Murder by the Clock (1931)

Article #753 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-7-2003
Posting Date: 9-4-2003
Directed by Edward Sloman
Featuring Lilyan Tashman, William Boyd, Regis Toomey

An old woman is strangled, and the primary suspect is her brutish but dim-witted son.

These early talkies can be a bit of a chore; in order to ensure decent sound, the films were shot in a fairly static way, the pace was often quite slow, and actors were required to be slow and careful in the way they articulated their lines, and this was not conducive to good acting. Between these elements and the rather obvious dialogue in the screenplay, one might be tempted to completely dismiss this forgotten horror that initially seems like your standard “Old Dark House” murder mystery. However, the story starts taking an unusual direction when you realize that in place of the usual romantic leads, you have a weak, drunken man and his manipulative wife who eventually proves to be a femme fatale of the first degree. In short, this forgotten horror may actually be an early form of film noir, and plotwise it plays out as such, which gives it a higher degree of interest value than it might otherwise have. That’s Irving Pichel as the dimwitted brother, and Regis Toomey actually manages to land some good comic lines as an Irish cop.

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