JUST OFF BROADWAY, Lloyd Nolan's penultimate film appearance as Detective Michael Shayne, is a middling entry in the series, enlivened by leading lady Marjorie Weaver.
This time around Shayne is serving on the jury in a murder case when a key witness is suddenly killed by a knife hurled across the courtroom. Naturally, Shayne decides he needs to become involved in solving not only the courtroom murder but in clearing the defendant (Janis Carter), as he believes she's innocent.
The jury is sequestered in a hotel, but Shayne drugs his roommate (Chester Clute) and sneaks out, then gets to work on the case with perky newspaper reporter Judy Taylor (Weaver). Meanwhile, Shayne has to stay one step ahead of annoying news photographer Roy Higgins (Phil Silvers), who wants to prove the juror is out on the town instead of locked up in the hotel.
JUST OFF BROADWAY is mildly amusing, though it requires a complete suspension of disbelief, as Shayne breaks countless rules governing the proper conduct of jurors. He even secretly directs the prosecutor's conduct of the case!
This was Weaver's third and final appearance in the Shayne series, each time playing a different character. She's a fun actress whose presence is always welcome.
Other actors appearing in the film include Mary Field, Ken Christy, Mae Marsh, Joan Valerie, Richard Derr, Grant Richards, Don Costello, and Francis Pierlot.
JUST OFF BROADWAY runs 65 minutes. It was directed by Herbert I. Leeds.
While the first five Shayne films had DVD releases, Nolan's last two entries in the series, JUST OFF BROADWAY and TIME TO KILL (1942), did not. JUST OFF BROADWAY has been shown on Fox Movie Channel, but TIME TO KILL has proven much more elusive. I'd love to find it so I can finish off watching this series!
Four years after TIME TO KILL, Hugh Beaumont resurrected the character in a five-film series for Producers Releasing Corporation. Shayne was later played by Richard Denning in a 1961 TV series.
Previous reviews of films in the Michael Shayne series: MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE (1940), SLEEPERS WEST (1941), DRESSED TO KILL (1941), BLUE, WHITE AND PERFECT (1942), and THE MAN WHO WOULDN'T DIE (1942).