For Reel

The Roadhouse Murder (1932)
October 4, 2015, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: J. Walter Ruben
2.5 Stars
The Roadhouse MurderThe Roadhouse Murder anticipates Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Fritz Lang’s final American film, by more than thirty years. Eric Linden plays a struggling reporter who, along with his girlfriend (Dorothy Jordan), stumbles onto a murder scene and devises a plot to frame himself for the murder while stashing away evidence that will convict the real killer during his trial. Of course, things don’t go quite so smoothly, and Linden almost finds himself in the electric chair when his evidence goes missing. The early-goings of the film are quite satisfying, with Linden amiably playing the ne’er-do-well reporter who is wrought to be the joke of the paper. The arrival at the deserted roadhouse where the murders will take place is rendered memorably with a tonal shift into the old dark house genre, complete with a creepy and demanding caretaker (Gustav von Seyffertitz). In the film’s final stretch, however, it plays as both a standard courtroom drama and a detective thriller without the benefit of a legitimate mystery. The biggest problem is Linden’s conception of the leading man. He’s too spunky and sincere to concoct a scheme like this. His cynical performance in Young Bride would have been a more satisfying direction to take the role, where his angry, world-weariness and sense of entitlement would more plausibly lead him to such drastic measures.