Monday, 7 August 2017

The Riverside Murder - 1935 film

Having recorded The Riverside Murder when it was screened by Talking Pictures, I was astonished to find, once I got round to watching it, that the source material was S.A. Steeman's excellent novel Six Dead Men. It has to be said that the script alters the storyline very considerably, and not just because the action is switched to England. But the writing is pretty slick, and that's no surprise, considering that the writer was a good crime novelist in his own right, Selwyn Jepson.

A wealthy financier is murdered by a mysterious gunman, and it soon becomes clear that present at the scene were (at least) two men with a very good reason to kill him. The tontine that features in the original story is, here, turned into a "pact", which means that a number of individuals have motives for murder.

The official detective work is undertaken by affable Inspector Winton (Philip Sydney), aided and abetted by Sergeant McKay (none other than Alastair Sim - apparently this was his first film appearance). But their investigation is interrupted by an intrepid and cheeky young woman who wants to make her name as a crime reporter - this isn't the only film of the 30s to feature such a character, and here she's played by Judy Gunn. Quite a few familiar crime story tropes make an appearance (the threat to take a cop off the case, leading to him to plead for just a few more hours, etc.) But they are handled in a light, entertaining way.

The suspects include one character played by Tom Helmore, who almost a quarter of a century later would make quite an impact as Gavin Elster in Hitchcock's classic Vertigo. The body count rises rapidly as Jepson's script breezes along to a pleasing conclusion. I must say I found it all very enjoyable: a real find.

3 comments:

Lucy R. Fisher said...

Kingsley Amis's tribute to 30s detective fiction is called the Riverside Villas Murder. Write-up at Tipping My Fedora.

Cary Black said...

This movie is available to watch on youtube.com

Martin Edwards said...

Lucy, Gary, thanks for your comments.