Friday, February 03, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Case of the Black Parrot (1941) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

William Lundigan plays a newspaper reporter working to solve THE CASE OF THE BLACK PARROT (1941), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

As the movie begins, reporter Jim Moore (Lundigan) has recently met and fallen in love with Sandy Vantine (Maris Wrixon, HIGHWAY 13).

During a trans-Atlantic ship crossing mysterious things begin to happen surrounding a cabinet Sandy's Uncle Paul (Charles Waldron) is bringing from Europe to America.

Once they're back home in the U.S., bodies start turning up, and Uncle Paul's mansion is soon filled with everyone from the police (Joseph Crehan and Emory Parnell) to strange women (Luli Deste and Phyllis Barry) to...the murderer.

The movie was based on a novel and play, but it plays a bit as though it might have originally been slated to be an entry in Ronald Reagan's Brass Bancroft Secret Service series; Reagan's comic sidekick Eddie Foy Jr. is on hand in this, and the film was directed by Noel M. Smith, who also worked on two of the four Bancroft movies. However, while the movie has a similar feel, I'm not sure how the Secret Service would have been involved!

Unfortunately, while it's reasonably watchable, given my liking for Lundigan combined with a short 60-minute running time, it's not especially interesting. The screenplay is by Robert Kent, who also wrote the humdrum FIND THE BLACKMAILER (1943), reviewed here last month.

The cast tries to breathe some life into the movie, but the script meanders a great deal for such a short film, and much of it's not very interesting. I agree with Steve at Mystery File who wrote that the film has "too much story in too short a time, too many characters doing too many strange things." Well stated.

Look for William Hopper of PERRY MASON among the ship's crew. The cast also includes Paul Cavanagh, Cyril Thornton, Leyland Hodgson, and Ernie Stanton.

The movie was filmed in black and white by Ted D. McCord.

The Warner Archive print looks and sounds fine. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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