Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Shriek in the Night (1933)

This film stars Ginger Rogers - pre Fred Astaire - as one of a pair of rival reporters after the same story.  There are no prizes for guessing that the two newsies will be a couple at the end of the movie.

We begin with the death - whether accident, suicide, or muder is unclear - of a wealthy businessman with shady friends.  Reporter Pat Morgan has been investigating the dead man for some time, and has spent the last three weeks as his secretary in attempt to learn more of his connections to organised crime.  Unfortunately, her scoop gets snatched out from under her by her rival Ted Rand, and she loses her job.

This doesn't exactly endear Ted to Pat (nor to me, since it's a rather jerky thing to do), but it does later lead to a rather nice Gift of the Magi moment later in the picture, so I will retroactively forgive it.

Alas, shortly after the Gift of the Magi moment, the film - which until then had been moving along in a quite satisfactory manner, if one overlooks the rampant racism and slightly less egregious sexism - stalls pretty badly.  It just feels like the momentum drains away.  Which is a shame, because the actual story behind the businessman's death isn't a bad one when it is finally revealed.  Alas, the movie doesn't do a good job of sustaining interest until we got there.

If you want one of those comedy/drama 'rivals who become lovers' kind of films, there are plenty of better examples.  This is interesting only because it is an example of the early work of a woman on the verge of becoming a star (Rogers would first team up with Astaire later the same year).

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