Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Miss Pinkerton (1932)

MISS PINKERTON is a mildly amusing "old dark house" mystery starring George Brent and Joan Blondell. It's part of Warner Archive's Forbidden Hollywood Volume 5 pre-Code collection.

The movie is based on a novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Blondell plays Nurse Adams, who gets a break from her usual hospital routine by attending to a shaken elderly lady (Elizabeth Patterson) in a mansion where a murder has just occurred.

Young Police Inspector Patten (Brent), working his first big case, asks Miss Adams to keep her eyes open for anything suspicious going on in the house. He jovially dubs her "Miss Pinkerton," after the famous detective agency.

Blondell is perky, Brent is cute, and their scenes together are charming. That said, it's a fairly creaky storyline, with far too many creepy-looking people sneaking up and down stairs and in and out of doorways, accompanied by screams and gunshots galore. Poor Nurse Adams is knocked to her feet a couple three times before it's all done. If I were her I would have high-tailed it out of the house, but of course if she'd done that there wouldn't have been a movie!

The Warner Archive DVD is said to have been remastered, although unfortunately the information seems to be missing from the Warner Archive page. The disc itself does have the "marquee" menu card which is supposed to be indicative of remastering.

The print is downright beautiful at times. I was particularly wowed by an early scene with Lyle Talbot, in a bit part as a newspaperman; the picture's sharpness in that scene was quite impressive, with gorgeous blacks. There are some equally beautiful scenes later in the film, and on the whole it looks very good.

In addition to Talbot, look for a very young Walter Brennan as a police dispatcher in an early scene.

The cast also includes Ruth Hall, C. Henry Gordon, John Wray, and Mary Doran. The film, directed by Lloyd Bacon, runs a quick 66 minutes. Cinematographer Barney McGill includes some shots taken at unique angles; a scene where Blondell sees Brent approach in a bathroom mirror is especially striking.

This film has also been shown on Turner Classic Movies; the trailer is here.

Update: I've also reviewed a remake of MISS PINKERTON, THE NURSE'S SECRET (1941).


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