The best part of this light thriller is the first 10 minutes. Low key lighting and cinematography by Nick Musuraca lend great atmosphere as the film opens with a close up of Walter Abel looking dazed and confused; there’s blood from a cut on his forehead as he stumbles in the gloomy night air into an eerily quiet park and sits down on a bench.
Initially he doesn’t see Margot Grahame who is sitting on a bench near him. Both are moved on by cop, Ward Bond.
They both move further into the park and sit down opposite each other again. He says to her, “What city is this?” When she looks bemused, he adds,”I mean it. I don’t even know who I am.It’s a nasty feeling,not knowing your own name.”
She is intrigued and decides to help him. His hat has the initials, ‘R.D’ in it. He has two theatre stubs and a book of matches from ‘The Blue Room’. The only clues.
They leave the park and find a nearby police station but don’t go in when they see a newsboy with a paper which has the headline,”Richard Denning Murdered !”. The article identifies Denning as the producer of ‘The Dark Menace’, the play for which Abel has ticket stubs.
Abel then finds $500 in an inside pocket – the exact amount the paper says was stolen from the murdered man!
The mystery of who Abel is provides the plot.Not a new idea but it’s quite well done.
It was a pleasure to see Alan Hale as a police inspector with no comedy patter and showing he should have been given more straight roles.
Eric Blore and Erik Rhodes add nothing to the plot and of course bring the dark tone to a crashing stand still.
A young Erin O’Brien-Moore impressed as the star of the play.
Walter Abel gets by in the lead but I was again impressed by Margot Grahame who has a nice breezy style. Shame she disappeared for about 20 minutes of the film.
The film was remade in the 40s as Two O’Clock Courage. The 30s version suits me better.