Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #16 - A Shriek in the Night
Run Time (approximate): 66 Minutes
Directed by: Albert Ray.
Producer: M. H. Hoffman.
Scenarist: Frances Hyland.
Based on a Story by: Kurt Kempler.
Photography by: Harry Newman and Tom Galligan.
Art Director: Gene Hornbistel.
Edited by: Leete Renick Brown.
Sound Recorder: Homer C. Ellmaker.
Music Supervisor: Abe Meyer.
Costume Design: Alfreda.
Production Management: Sidney Algier.
Assistant Director: Wilbur McGaugh.
Also Starring: Lyle Talbot (as Ted Rand), Harvey Clark (as Peterson, the Janitor), Purnell Pratt (as Police Inspector Russell), Lillian Harmer (as Augusta, the Housekeeper), Arthur Hoyt (as Wilfred), Louise Beavers (as Maid), Clarence Wilson (as Editor Perkins).
UNCREDITED CAST: Maurice Black (as Josephus Martini), Jim Farley (as Detective Jim Brown), Cyril Ring (as Eddie the Morgue Attendant), Dick Rush (as Policeman in Hallway), and Tiny Sandford (as Detective Eddie).
Ginger's Character: Pat Morgan.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 35 Minutes and 57 Seconds (54.5% of the film).
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 7.0 - Although heaps of 'face time' for Ginger, the role just doesn't lend itself to a lot of 'sassy' input, save for a few nice spots here and there...Ginger's character is pretty 'straightforward', and is ultimately 'corralled' by the leading man, in pretty nondescript fashion - I mean, he doesn't actually even REALLY save her from the endgame peril.
Film Quality (1-10): 6.5 - That may be generous for the copy I have...there are multiple 'editions' of this one out there, but not sure if they are all from the same 'source film'... but there are a few scenes cut short (where you hear dialogue but the screen is black) - not enough to really affect anything, but...it DOES earn negative points for the overall film condition. The 'caps' I made did end up pretty fair, but those were in-betwixt a lot of dust-spots-fuzz on certain frames. Also, the sound is not the best...dialogue is OK, but in 'lull' areas, there is a constant 'crinkling' sound, like it's raining...the first scene you think, 'well, maybe it's supposed to be raining, as it is at night and you really can't tell... but the next scene in the penthouse clarifies, as typically rain does not occur within a penthouse (unless the fire sprinklers go off...which they most likely did not even have back then...)
Available From: Various DVDs available..
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Ginger's fifth film of 1933 finds her back in the 'murder/mystery/suspense' genre, this time as an undercover newspaper reporter (...actually, in 1933, I believe that's the only type of reporter there was...but I digress...) by the name of Patricia Morgan. She has been 'planted' as the secretary of a financial big dawg that goes by the name of Mr. Harker... who is on screen about 3 seconds, in the form of a mannequin tossed down from his penthouse. In other words, whoever played Harker most likely didn't make union scale for his acting efforts.
ANYWAY, Pat was investigating Harker's possible link with mob member Joe Martini (yes, there's at least one 'dry martini' joke during the proceedings...) She has gathered enough info to piece together possible reasoning behind Harker's demise, and calls it in to her paper...except the call is 'intercepted' by a rival reporter on the scene, Ted Rand (Lyle Talbot), who takes the info and runs with it...to HIS newspaper.
When Pat's editor discovers all the info about the case (which only she could have known by her 'inside' position) sprawled on the front page of the competitor, he promptly fires Pat.
Well, when Pat figures out Ted was the one who stole the info, she was JUST a bit miffed (not to the point of throwing things, however....) ...and confronts him on the matter. This is where we learn these two have a 'past', which eliminates the need for developing a relationship from scratch on the screen (this one clocks in at just over an hour, y'all...). Well, Ted does pretty fair damage control, and soon the relatively happy couple, along with Inspector Russell (Purnell Pratt) are in concert regarding the investigation. Along the way, a few more folks get snuffed out, one of which was a 'prime suspect' (ain't that ALWAYS the case?). Pat does a bit of 'snooping' in Martini's apartment, with no tangible results. Before long, however, Pat receives a letter with a card enclosed...reading 'You Will Hear It', with a coiled snake on it...a la 'Don't Tread On Me'... this was found on each of the previous victims, which, of course, labels Pat as a future victim! Well, that's about all I'll go over here, in order to let you discover the end of this 'whodunnit'... but it's not that big a mystery that Pat and Ted have a happy ever after, y'all.
Ginger and Talbot have a better overall chemistry in this one than in Thirteenth Guest, which is a natural progression upon subsequent 'pairings' with each other.
Some folks have suggested that this very movie was the 'inspiration' for 'The Thin Man' series...not sure about THAT, but there are some similarities in the interactions between the couples... but the plot, while a murder mystery, isn't nearly as 'complex' as any of the Thin Man films.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Ginger is pretty much 'straight role' in this one, so her 'trademark' moves are all in this one...it's fun to pick up on all the different ones developing, such as the eyebrow raise, becoming close to perfected in this one... among others, as shown in the many caps to follow...
"Chief among the attractions of this diversion is the Rogers-Talbot characterizations of newspaper persons. They come very close to being life-like, and that is pretty miraculous for Hollywood...All in all, considering the title, an agreeable surprise." - New York Times
"It holds you all the way. Cast is far above average." -Hollywood Filmograph
"Ginger Rogers is exceptionally well-cast as the girl reporter." - Hollywood Screen World
From GINGER: My Story: This is the only film I am aware of that Ginger does not mention in her bio...probably because of the impending collaboration with gooberhead Lew that is soon to follow, as she has a LOT to write about that timeframe...
--- Although the production was from Allied Studios, the movie was actually shot on the RKO lot (well, ONE source notes this, so don't quote me on it...).
--- The black maid, portrayed by Louise Beavers, was erroneously noted in the opening credits as 'Louise Beaver".
--- Ginger's second teaming with Lyle Talbot, the first being The Thirteenth Guest, another 'low-budget' murder mystery.
--- Ginger's character in both this one and The Thirteenth Guest are named 'Morgan'.
--- And, a pretty COOL feature from IMDb... the entire movie free for download! Check it out at this link:
A Shriek in the Night video feed
GingerFilm Ranking: #09 of 17...At the end, this one is just a bit better than 'The Thirteenth Guest', in terms of sheer Ginger 'face time', so it's just over that one in the rankings... her role is solid, but...'pedestrian' (i.e., minimal Sassyness).
After Fourteen Reviews:
#01 - Professional Sweetheart
#02 - 42nd Street
#03 - The Tenderfoot
#04 - The Tip-Off
#05 - Queen High
#06 - Young Man of Manhattan
#07 - You Said A Mouthful
#08 - Carnival Boat
#09 - A Shriek in the Night
#10 - The Thirteenth Guest
#11 - Broadway Bad
#12 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#13 - The Sap From Syracuse
#14 - Suicide Fleet
#15 - Follow The Leader
#16 - Honor Among Lovers
#17 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Don't Bet on Love..Ginger stars with future gooberhead hubby Lew Ayres in a 'basic' rom-com about a dude who can't stop gambling...while trying to hang onto Ginger. Of course, this one is of interest to G-ologists, if only to observe how these two hit it off...
Until then, as always...