Saturday, September 4, 2010

Perhaps the butler actually did it this time!

Sinister Hands (1932)
Starring: Jack Mulhall, Crauford Kent, Mischa Auer, Phyllis Barrington, Louis Nathaeux, Gertie Messinger, Fletcher Norton, Phillips Smalley, Lillian West, and James P. Burtis
Director: Armand Shaefer
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A millionaire is murdered at a seance where EVERYONE (including the bulter) could have done it, and had reason to do it. It's up to homicide detective Herbert Devlin (Muhall) to sort through the suspicious characters and find the killer.

"Sinister Hands" is a decent little mystery that plays like an outline of an Agatha Christie novel. The first half sets up the future victim and all the people with reasons to kill him, and the second half is devoted mostly the detective interrogating the suspects as he tries to discover who did it, or trick the killer into revealing him- or herself.

There will be no great surprises in this film if you pay attention as it unfolds and if you've read/seen at least two or three other detective movies. (In fact, one of the things I found most interesting is completely trivial and not even related directly to the movie. It appeared that the characters were wearing unisex bathing suits at the pool party scene. I'd never noticed that men and women's swimwear was that close in style and appearance during the late 1920s and early 1930s. I also found it noteworthy that one of the suspects is a fake spiritualist named Yomurda. With a name like that, he can't possibly be the killer, can he? :D )

This is an entertaining little mystery film that is probably only of interest to big fans of the genre (like me) or those with a deep love of low-budget films from this era (which I also qualify as). It might also be a suitable second feature for a Bad Movie Night, because, while not exactly a bad movie, it is a film that time has passed by and which can give rise to much levity in the right company.