For Reel

Moonlight Murder (1936)
July 7, 2014, 1:06 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Edwin L. Marin
4 Stars
Moonlight MurderA surprising programmer that involves a few refreshing departures from usual mystery conventions, Moonlight Murder stars Leo Carrillo as a womanizing opera singer who is told that if he sings at his next performance he will die. Because the inevitable happens much later than one might expect, for a short while the audience is left questioning whether or not a game of misdirection is being played. Enter detective Steve Farrell (Chester Morris) and scientist Toni Adams (Madge Evans) to crack the case. The picture has no shortage of potential suspects and will manage to surprise even seasoned mystery consumers. More striking than the reveal itself is the way that it’s handled–absent is the familiar scene in which the detective marches around a room filled with suspects who respond by glancing at each other suspiciously while the case is spelled out in all of its details. Rather, it’s an unusual narrative in that the focus seems to shrink smaller and smaller in scope as it continues, culminating in one of the most intimate and sympathetic confessions one could expect of the genre. Director Edwin L. Marin worked on some underrated B-pictures, and here he takes some artful risks along the way. Immediately following the murder, an extended amount of time is given to watching the continued opera performance, as if performing a eulogy for the fallen singer while several funeral processions of sorts happen concurrently.

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