No Exit (1936)

  |  Mystery

No Exit (1936) Poster

For a bet a man attempts to hide his friend for a month. The police soon believe he has murdered him.


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9 June 2016 | wilvram
| Playing at Murder
Leslie Perrins is a successful author of crime novels and plays. His close friends are Billy Milton as a wealthy man about town, and Valerie Hobson, a sophisticated young woman married to a much older man (Henry Oscar). Following suggestions that he downplays the intelligence of the police in his work, he makes a wager; Milton will disappear for four weeks, with Perrins deluding the police that he's been murdered. Things are bound to go wrong.

The plot is now a familiar one, most famously in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, but would have been fresh at the time; this was originally a successful play. Pity it has to be padded out with some desperate comic relief including Margaret Yarde as a tipsy housekeeper and Ronald Simpson as a ludicrous reporter for a local rag who's seen too many American crime films. On other occasions the humour is more subtle: "You make a good villain - you should be in movies" quips Milton to Perrins, a man who played more bad guys in British films of the period than anyone else.

Robert Cochran, as the detective on the case, is seen early on taking an identically immaculately dressed villain into custody, which has nothing to do with anything but does showcase the stylish fashion of the times; otherwise there's a bit too much of the other woodenly-played Scotland Yard men. Valerie Hobson, not yet twenty but already a star with Hollywood experience, is alluring and polished in the lead, though her character is hardly consistent. She supposedly married Henry Oscar because she "felt sorry for him" but there's nothing in her demeanour to suggest she's the sentimental type as she openly flirts with Milton and Perrins.

Photography is generally superior to the script and direction, and the print on the recent Network DVD is excellent.

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