Sunday, October 14, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Missing Witnesses (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MISSING WITNESSES (1937) is one of a couple short Warner Bros. "B" crime films just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

MISSING WITNESSES is a fast-moving 61-minute film about Robert Lane (John Litel), a police inspector determined to end the organized crime racket in his town. The tendency of witnesses to recant or even die makes his job a challenge!

Lane comes up with a creative idea to help prosecute one case, filming a witness's testimony before the mob can pressure him into keeping his mouth shut, but it's still an uphill battle to bring down the whole crime ring.

Bull Regan (Dick Purcell), one of Lane's detectives, is a brash sort who tends to act before thinking, but his heart is in the right place...especially after he falls for Mary Norton (Virginia Dale, billed here as Jean), a secretary who comes to believe that her boss (Harland Tucker) is the head of the organized crime ring. Mary comes to Inspector Lane with her suspicions...and then finds herself framed for murder.

This film is nothing special, and yet it's just the kind of movie I like to sit down with at the end of a long day. It might have worked slightly better with a less obnoxious actor than Purcell, but Dale (in her first feature film) is lovely and charming and Litel the essence of honor and integrity.

It's also fun noticing faces like John Ridgely and Mary Treen around the edges of the frames. Supposedly Carole Landis is in it, I'll have to look for her next time!

MISSING WITNESSES was directed by William Clemens and filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox.

This movie won't be for everyone, but it's a fairly pleasant watch for those who enjoy short little WB crime films.

The Warner Archive just released another "B" film with John Litel, OVER THE WALL (1938), which I'll be reviewing shortly. (Update: Here is the review!)

The MISSING WITNESSES print is quite good, although the sound levels can be a little erratic, with some slight fuzziness when actors raise their voices. There are no extras.

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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