Grief Street (October 1, 1931)
Released on October 1, 1931: The womanizing Broadway star is found strangled in his locked dressing room, and the answer may be buried in the plot of his last show.
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Written by Arthur Hoerl.
The Actors: Barbara Kent (Jean Royce), John Holland (Jim Ryan), Dorothy Christy (Mrs. Alvin Merle, aka Ethel Wynn), Crauford Kent (Alvin Merle), Lillian Rich (Pamela Gregory), James P. Burtis (Police Sergeant Jardine), Larry Steers (Ralph Burns), Lloyd Whitlock (Frank Murray), Lafe McKee (Michael, stage doorman), Creighton Hale (Ted), Raymond Largay (Police Captain Blake), Walter Brennan (Walt), Kenne Duncan (newspaper reporter), Henry Hall (Dr. Wattles, medical examiner), John Ince (Jean's doctor), Theodore Lorch ('Pop' Beacon, newspaper city editor), Murdock MacQuarrie (second theater doorman), Merrill McCormick (Sam, newspaper reporter), Fred Parker (waiter).
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Make a big bowl of homemade white kernel popcorn and pour on plenty of warm melted butter, because we have a murder on our hands, and plenty of suspects, and some pretty cool characters to enjoy. Two of the characters that I enjoyed the most are not the lead characters, but they had really great parts. Sergeant Jardine is a cop that just makes me chuckle every time he talks. And the old white haired stage doorman, Michael - his real name is Lafe McKee, and after this movie he appeared in more cowboy westerns than John Wayne and Roy Roger combined. Oh, and I almost forgot Walter Brennan. As a Bogart-Bacall fan, one of my favorite movies is the one that they met on, 'To Have and Have Not' - and Walter Brennan had a great part in that classic. In this one he is a stuttering reporter, a speech trait that he had for the first several years of his career. But lets get into this murder mystery and see what's going on.
First we meet a Broadway actor star who loves the ladies . . . I don't remember his name, but he'll be dead in a couple of minutes, so it doesn't matter anyway. His actress wife is also seeing another man, so you know right off that fidelity isn't a big theme of this one. Anyway, our wolf actor finishes the last show of the season and after treating our stage doorman like crap, he tells him to make certain that he isn't interrupted in his dressing room. He goes into his dressing room and locks the door. An hour later, when he hasn't come out yet, the stage manager goes looking for him because he didn't show up at the restaurant for the after-show party. It turns out that the actor is dead in his locked dressing room, strangled by a cord. The door is still locked, and the window has bars on it. No one could get in or out. Now we know that since he has a philandering wife, and he has many girlfriends and jealous husbands that might like to see him dead, there will be no shortage of suspects. But our attention quickly centers on our intrepid newspaper reporter and the devastatingly beautiful and wealthy Jean Royce, who gets notes predicting the death of the actor, and then the reporter. Neither of them is obviously the killer, but they are the key to unraveling this mystery of death and deception.