As the old saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” so you can’t judge this next movie by its film title (or its original poster art, which was used for the recent Blu-ray release, for that matter). It’s the 1937 screwball mystery Murder In Greenwich Village, starring Richard Arlen and Fay Wray!
One evening, photographer Steve Havens Jackson Jr. (Richard Arlen) spies Kay “Lucky” Cabot (Fay Wray) climbing down a fire escape in someone else’s pajamas. He brings her back to his apartment, where he introduces her to his friends (and models) Flo Melville (Wyn Cahoon), Larry Foster (Scott Colton), “Angel Annie” (Mary Russell) and the Senator (Raymond Walburn). Steve takes a picture of Kay for one of his advertising ideas in exchange for some clothes for her to wear home. The next day, it is revealed that another photographer, Philip Morgan, had been murdered, and that it was his apartment Kay had been leaving the night before. Kay comes back to Steve, hoping to have him pose as her fiance in the hopes of providing herself an alibi. He is reluctant, but he does so when the police arrive. However, the two find themselves hounded by Philip’s brother, racketeer Rusty Morgan (Marc Lawrence), who wants to find his brother’s murderer. In return for Steve’s help, Kay turns to her friend Rodney Hunter (Leon Ames) to help get Steve a job in the advertising department at International Chromium Corporation. She helps Steve try to take some photos to help him get the job, but he loses out when one of his models, Larry Foster, is found murdered, and the police question Steve about it. While they have been falling for each other, Kay and Steve still find themselves at odds. Can they come together and see the murder solved?
As I said in my quick intro, this is a movie that, upon seeing its title or original poster, you would be thinking it would be a murder mystery or a film noir, but it isn’t. Now, before the recent Blu-ray release, I hadn’t even heard of this movie, so when it was announced, I looked it up to read a little about it. The moment I saw it described as being a “screwball” movie, I knew I wanted to see it! Especially now, during this pandemic, comedies appeal SOOOO much more to me than dramas (although not as much as musicals, but I’ll still take a good comedy when given the opportunity). So, in that regard, this movie did its job. It’s not going to be remembered for its mystery, which is barely there, with its main connection being the constantly intruding (or maybe I should borrow his mis-pronunciation and say “pro-truding”) detective Henderson (played by Gene Morgan). I mean, the murder does get solved, but it almost seems to come from nowhere, especially since the two main characters are not actively trying to solve it.
Like I said, though, the comedy worked. I know I enjoyed watching Raymond Walburn as the Senator (so-named because of his eloquence and not because of an actual job title). Richard Arlen’s character’s habit of dramatizing for his photographs (and when the police are snooping around) is also a lot of fun. And I guarantee that I’m going to remember the scene in the department store for quite a while! So, again, watching this movie is all about managing your expectations. If you’re looking for a film noir or a good murder mystery, based on the title, you will be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a good comedy,then the possibility of enjoying it is there. I liked it, and for that reason I would indeed recommend it!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment through their manufacture-on-demand (MOD) line. As far as the transfer goes, this movie looks and sounds fantastic! On that regard, I couldn’t ask for better! This release is bare-bones, with no extras or menu (which is fine). The only complaint I have (and it’s a minor one) is lack of subtitles. As I said, the audio is good, and I can understand everything clearly. But, I am young yet, and not all their audience for this release will still have the ability to hear clearly. I understand that to have subtitles certainly costs money, especially for a movie like this one that has no prior release on home video (like DVD) where they would have been done. But I know that Warner Archive Collection (Warner’s MOD division) has subtitles on all their Blu-ray releases, whether they are upgrades of titles put out on DVD by their retail division (Warner Home Video) that had subtitles, upgrades of WAC DVD releases (which didn’t any) or titles that made the jump straight to Blu-ray (and all their releases cost less, too). If Sony’s MOD division can change that, then they are heading in the right direction (and I still recommend this release if this movie appeals to you)! The movie is one hour, eight minutes in length.
My Rating: 8/10
Coming Up Shorts! with… Lumberjack And Jill (1949)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!
(Length: 6 minutes, 30 seconds)
Lumberjacks Popeye and Bluto fight over the new camp cook, Olive. While still formulaic, it’s nice to find another cartoon where Popeye and Bluto don’t start out as enemies. A few fun gags here and there making use of the lumberjack setting. Nothing big that’s new for the series, but it’s still worth a few laughs!
And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!