Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Bruce get top billing because they’re pretty, but the real star is Constance Collier, a famous stage performer making her talkie debut as a forbidding old battle-axe with a heart of gold. Ever since her fiancé died, she’s lived in her mansion like Miss Havisham, playing cribbage with her butler, peering through her lorgnette, and making biting comments. She refuses to step outside, but recently she’s been listening to the radio and watching films in her own projection room. When her nephew (Cortez), the ass, gets mixed up with an actress and presumed gold-digger (Bruce) who’s accused of murder, she finally crosses her threshold to investigate personally, and does a pretty fair job of it. She’s like a haughty Miss Marple who’s not above swilling champagne in a nightclub or trading barbs with flatfoots. The mystery’s okay, but the movie takes off when she’s center stage. It’s directed with pace by George B. Seitz, a serial pioneer who finished up helming Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy movies. This forgotten diversion is now available from Warner Archive.
// Notes from the Road
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