Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Grand Central Murder (1942)

GRAND CENTRAL MURDER is an MGM "B" movie which is a fast-paced whodunit with an excellent cast and polished cinematography. Van Heflin plays Rocky Custer, a private investigator who inadvertently is also a suspect in the murder of an actress at Grand Central Station. Virginia Grey plays Rocky's wife and assistant, Sue, and Sam Levene (Lt. Abrams in two of the THIN MAN films) is the soda-addicted police inspector trying to crack the case.

The film has a superb supporting cast of pros including Connie Gilchrist, Samuel S. Hinds, Cecilia Parker, Patricia Dane, Millard Mitchell, and Frank Ferguson. The police stenographer is played by an actor named Roger Moore; this Roger Moore was not the eventual 007, but it's interesting to note that he was the older brother of actor Robert Young. Moore had a long career in bit parts dating back to the silent era.

Virginia Grey had a long romance with Clark Gable in the '40s and was said to be heartbroken when he married another woman. Grey never married.

GRAND CENTRAL MURDER runs 73 minutes and was directed by one of MGM's best "B" directors, S. Sylvan Simon. Several of Simon's films have been reviewed here previously, including SPRING MADNESS, FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE, THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS, and DANCING CO-ED.

My husband and I admired the film's photography, which included interesting upward-looking angles and background characters going in and out of focus. I looked it up and discovered the movie was filmed by George Folsey. Folsey had worked shooting films since the silents and in this period was mostly filming MGM's "B" movies and black and white films such as the musical SEVEN SWEETHEARTS (reviewed here in January). Shortly after GRAND CENTRAL MURDER Folsey would move into color cinematography of "A" films such as MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE HARVEY GIRLS, and ZIEGFELD FOLLIES. In the '50s he shot SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. Over his long career Folsey was nominated for 13 Oscars; in two years he was simultaneously nominated for two films.

GRAND CENTRAL MURDER can next be seen on Turner Classic Movies on June 1, 2007, as part of "A Night at Grand Central Terminal." The other movies airing that evening are NORTH BY NORTHWEST and GOING HOLLYWOOD. Fans of THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! might remember the clip of Bing Crosby and a cast of hundreds singing the title song "Going Hollywood" in the Grand Central terminal (as re-created at MGM).

Vote here for GRAND CENTRAL MURDER to be released on DVD.

The trailer can be seen here.

March 2012 Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.


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