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The Lady in Scarlet (October 20, 1935)

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Reginald Denny in The Lady in Scarlet

Released on October 20, 1935: A private detective is hired to discover the killer of a wealthy antiques dealer, and finds blackmail and more in this noir detective mystery.

Directed by Charles Lamont

The Actors: Reginald Denny (Oliver Keith), Patricia Farr (Ella Carey), Jameson Thomas (Dr. Phillip J. Boyer), Dorothy Revier (Julia Sayre), James Bush (Arthur Pennyward), John St. Polis (Jerome T. Shelby), Claudia Dell (Alice Sayre), John T. Murray (Albert J. Sayer), Lew Kelly (Police Inspector Lewis Trainey), Jack Adair (F.W. Dyker), Frank LaRue (medical examiner), Al Thompson (Mr. Quigley), Lloyd Whitlock (Charlie Mitchell).


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It was Harry Belafonte who wrote these words as part of a song, "If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, Never make a pretty woman your wife. So from my personal point of view, Get an ugly girl to marry you." Ahhh, then you never need to worry about whether she is cheating on you or not. Unlike our murder victim in today's mystery.

This detective murder mystery begins with a scene of the Sayre home. Mr. Sayre is an older, very wealthy art collector who has married a young beautiful blonde who was an actress on Broadway before becoming his wife. Mr. Sayre is terribly jealous of his young wife, and is convinced that she is cheating on him with the family doctor. He has a private detective following her and documenting the times that they meet. Sayre also has a pretty, young daughter who is also about Mrs. Sayre's age. His daughter is going to marry Pennyward, Sayre's young assistant. Sayre doesn't like that, and has promised to cut his daughter out of his will if she marries Pennyward. Now the table is set for our murder, and we must meet our brash, know-it-all detective.

We watch a brunette gal enter a nightclub and make her way to the bar where she meets her employer, private eye Oliver Keith. They exchange a bit of droll banter letting us know that they have a close relationship . . . close enough that they speak in a very sarcastic, smart-aleck way to each other. They are discussing what the name of the Broadway production was that they saw on their first date. It turns out that it was a production of 'The Lady in Scarlet,' and just as they are discussing it, Mrs. Sayre walks over to them and confirms the play, and she was the star of that particular production. She then asks Keith if he will investigate her husband a bit. She thinks that her husband is in some sort of trouble, as he is not acting like himself lately, and she is worried. Keith escorts her back to the Sayre mansion where they find old man Sayre dead on the floor, with an antique knife stuck through his right hand. And thus the mystery begins.

Both the wife and the daughter, and the daughter's new husband Pennyward, Sayre's assistant, seem to be prime suspects. Mostly the wife, as there is also a detective that can document her possible infidelities. But our intrepid detective is on her side, and even though the lion's share of the evidence points to the wife, he will of course uncover the real killer, who is just about the last person that we might suspect. Who dunnit? Make a big bowl of fluffy white kernel popcorn and drizzle on plenty of real melted butter, and enjoy a wonderfully written and acted crime noir detective mystery about The Lady in Scarlet.