A Shriek in the Night (1933)

Article #1406 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-19-2005
Posting Date: 6-18-2005
Directed by Albert Ray
Featuring Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot, Harvey Clark

When a man falls to his death from his penthouse, police and reporters try to figure out whether it was murder or suicide.

The presence of future Fred Astaire partner Ginger Rogers in the cast makes this forgotten horror one in which there is a certain novelty value, and though I sense that she didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the spunky reporter role, she gives a spirited performance. And even though the horror elements are slight (the murder victims all receive an ominous card heralding their deaths), there are other interesting points to this one. For one thing, it doesn’t take place in an old dark house. The villain is somewhat unexpected. The movie is also filled with some slightly oddball comic relief, though the fact that it features a scared black woman instead of a scared black man doesn’t alleviate the stereotype much. Still, the plot is over-complicated (it takes almost two minutes of dialogue at the end of the movie to explain the plot, and that’s way too long), and the direction is painfully static. The best moment comes near the end, when the meek, cowardly assistant to the inspector faces off against the murderer. It has its moments, but it is a bit of a chore to watch at times.


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