23 June 2016 | AlsExGal
Twas a dark and stormy night.
Count Peter Alvinczy (Paul Cavanaugh) has just been appointed to an important post, and normally this would make his wife, Madalaine (Karen Morley) happy. Unfortunately, Madalaine's dead husband is not a suicide, as has been believed for several years, after all. He is alive and blackmailing her, threatening her with the scandal of being a bigamist, which would be especially bad considering her husband's high social position. Now Maddy's first husband faked his suicide to avoid jail, so my question was, if he causes a scandal isn't he just opening himself up to the jail term he was avoiding given his newly alive status? Well, as in most of these types of films where a woman who married into high society to a good man and finds her past haunting her through no real fault of her own, Maddy does not tell her husband and continues to let this jackal of a first husband threaten and manipulate her. Unlike most of these films, her loyal private maid goes to the second husband and tells him all of Maddy's problems with the inconveniently undead first husband. Meanwhile, in a cheap rooming house, Maddy's first husband is simultaneously packing and ghosting on his current vaudeville partner on both the business and romantic front. She does not take it well. There are several other people who have reasons to dislike this guy, and then he turns up dead. Enter Edmund Lowe as Police Captain Karl Torok, out to solve the crime.
Edmund Lowe is methodical yet elegant in this part. He knows how to handle a grimy crime scene, and yet stops by the Count and Maddy's ball and trips the light fantastic for awhile. In contrast is Police Lt. Gabor (Gene Lockhart) who never saw a plate of food he didn't like, and doesn't know how to approach suspects with any kind of subtlety.
This could easily have been an 8/10 film if not for one thing. After a well moving first half, the last half of the film gets bogged down a bit in the kind of cinematic claustrophobia that marked the early talkies five and six years before. Plus the police have placed all of the suspects in one or two rooms of the boarding house where the murder took place, so you feel like you know one of five or six people did this crime, removing the anticipation of a surprise ending or one with a twist. I'll let you watch and find out as to whether or not that lack of anticipation is justified.
I don't regret watching this as it was entertaining enough, I just feel I wouldn't want to pull it out for a repeat view for any other reason than Edmund Lowe's smooth and dashing performance.