Today’s QUICK REVIEW: Another Chesterfield quickie whodunit like THE DARK HOUR which I wrote on yesterday, but this one is better and moves faster.
This time it’s a rich grandfather who gets murdered, after arguing with his granddaughter Shirley Grey about her extravagant spending and cuts her out of the will. He’s murdered on the night of a costume party at the mansion, and also the same night Grey takes off to elope. Too bad her BF went and cut all the phone lines and wires in all the guests’ cars (!) sure does make them look guilty of more than elopement. The suspects include the old man’s financial whiz, his wife, a maid and an old friend from the past who knows a secret relating to the death of Grey’s parents and how she ended up under her grandfather’s thumb. The costume party isn’t just for laughs, it ends up providing the killer’s opportunity and an important clue. The outfits do add fun to the first half of the movie, people are in clown and leiderhosen getups, and it was also a handy trick to keep all the players straight and easily identifiable as you get to know who’s who. Charles Starrett pictured above, plays a mystery writer who happens to be at the party and hangs around annoying but guiding the police a la Castle or Jessica Fletcher. Former football player Starrett, who was here still new to film and not yet the huge cowboy star he would become within a few years, hams it up but is very hunky and charming as he towers over the detectives both physically and mentally, and playfully hands them the clues he’s gathering, while rushing up to his remington and using the investigation to bang out his next novel.
The plot is pretty basic B/pulp mystery and was based on a British novel, but the proceedings are enlivened through surprisingly high production values, impressively creative camera setups and angles, ambitious use of deep focus. For example, the reading of a key letter, which could have been really boring, is helped a great deal by the editing, slow zooms in and out and pans across the large room to include the reactions of about a half dozen players. Little wonder it seems helmed by a sure hand, because the director was Richard Thorpe, not a first-tier name, but a reliable and productive worker who did a number of period epics, westerns and all manner of films for MGM, including work on the Wizard of Oz and Ben Hur. Green Eyes is a typical B mystery, with an easy to follow and logical solution, nothing essential but fun for buffs, and well done for its ilk.
Read more about the cast and watch the movie at IMDB