Murder at Midnight (1931)

Article 2088 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2006
Posting Date: 5-1-2007
Directed by Frank R. Strayer
Featuring Aileen Pringle, Alice White, Hale Hamilton

When a game of charades results in the murder of a rich man’s secretary, the police are called in to investigate, only to find several more murders being committed in succession.

A spooky opening sequence gives it a touch of horror, and a couple of murder gimmicks add a bit of science fiction to this mystery, giving it its only fantastic elements. You know, this early talkie is so stiff and so stagey that it almost exudes a certain fascination, and this will hold you about fifteen minutes before the dreariness sets in. Well, even if the production is creaky, the story does have some good things about it to help you along. Here are four good things about this movie.

1) The presence of Brandon Hurst as the butler. Brandon Hurst appeared in a number of early horror movies, and though his name isn’t well known, his presence is always felt and appreciated by me.

2) After the butler finds the will, he hides it one of the better hiding places I’ve seen in a movie like this.

3) The identity of the murderer is a definite and unexpected treat.

4) The comic relief character has one simple but annoying (and amusing) bad habit. One of the better laughs I had in this movie was that this bad habit was also used to give murder suspects the third degree.


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