Sing Sing Nights (December 15, 1934)
Released on December 15, 1934: A war correspondent is found dead with three bullets from three different guns. Professor Varney, a celebrated criminologists, searches for the one that really killed the man with his truth machine.
Directed by Lewis D. Collins
Written by Harry Stephen Keeler with screenplay by Marion Orth and Charles Logue.
The Actors: Conway Tearle (Floyd Cooper), Ferdinand Gottschalk (Professor Varney), Hardie Albright (Howard Trude), Jameson Thomas (Robert McCaigh), Berton Churchill (Governor Duane), Boots Mallory (Ellen Croft), Mary Doran (Anne McCaigh), Henry Kolker (Kurt Nordon), Lotus Long (Li Sung), Richard Tucker (the Attorney General), George Baxter (Sergei Krenwicz), Jack Casey (policeman), Jack Cheatham (guard), Gino Corrado (Latin-American General), Lester Dorr (reporter), Harry Harvey (New York cabbie), Edward Hearn (Governor's aide), Lloyd Ingraham (prison warden), Eddie Kane (Peters), Edward Keane (Chang), Lew Kelly (detective), Fred Kelsey (policeman), Bruce Mitchell (detective), Frank O'Connor (police desk clerk).
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There was an invention as early as 1895 that sought to tell by measuring blood pressure alone whether a person was telling the truth or a lie. In 1921 a medical student combined the measurement of systolic blood pressure and skin moisture, and thus was born the 'lie detector.' Today the results of a lie detector are not permitted in court cases because it is believed that some people can lie without being detected, but they are still routinely used in many private enterprises. In 1934 it was the stuff of exciting science fiction and it forms the basis for this murder thriller.
Our movie begins with the dead body of Floyd Cooper, who was a famous war reporter. Floyd was not only a war reporter, but when wars were hard to find, he encouraged new wars by trading guns and supplies to rebel groups. Shortly after Floyd's dead body was found, three different men turned themselves in to the police claiming to have killed Cooper. His body had three bullets in it, and any of them would have killed the man, so all three were tried and sentenced to death. Professor Varney, who built his own version of a 'truth machine,' declares that if the state kills all three men, it will be killing two innocent men.
So the Governor writes out two pardons, but doesn't fill in the names. Professor Varney takes the blank pardons and his truth machine to Sing Sing Prison to interview the three men. The Professor believes that his machine will discover which man really killed Cooper, so he interviews each of the men one at a time, and we flash back as each man describes his experiences with Cooper, and their motive for killing him. We will watch three tales of men and their ladies, and how Cooper manipulates the men and women to his ends, and why each man wanted badly to kill Cooper. Which man really killed Cooper, and which ones will go free. Which two men will get a pardon, while the other goes on to his death at Sing Sing Prison? Grab a bowl of freshly popped white kernel popcorn, none of that microwave stuff mind you, buttered and salted to your taste. Then sit down and enjoy a tale of old, and imagine the thrill that movie audiences saw in 1934, and imagine the heated discussions after the movie about whether this machine was real or not, and whether lies had been banished for all time because of this new truth machine.