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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Murder by Aristocrat (1936)

Here we have another Sally Keating mystery movie. Okay actually I suppose I need to explain that the character’s name was switched around from Sarah Keate to Sally Keating. Why? I don’t have a clue, but it is based on the same character that appeared in While the Patient Slept which I’ve already covered here. This one has our favorite crime solving nurse being called to take care of a patient who may or may not have accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun. Spoilers… it wasn’t an accident.

The movie opens with the members of the Thatcher family sitting in the great room of their mansion. One of them, Bayard, is demanding that the others give him twenty five thousand dollars. If they don’t, he will reveal the family secrets including a very illegal bit of banking. The rest of the family doesn’t seem all that pleased with him, but he isn’t bothered by that. Though later in the night when someone takes a shot at him that might be a different matter.

The shot only winged him so the family calls a doctor who also brings along his nurse, Sally, to take care of their patient. She stays that night to keep an eye on him and watches as he continues to antagonize the family. He even lets her know that he wasn’t cleaning his gun, which is the story the family gave everyone, but was shot by someone else. The next morning Sally is sent to sit out in the yard and watches as folks come and go. This is important as she is able to collect some clues to help solve the mystery as to who shot Bayard (they didn’t miss this time) when is body is found. The rest of the movie is a belligerent District Attorney who is also a family friend not listening to her before finally realizing she has it all sorted out.

This is a very simple and entertaining movie. Clocking in right at an hour the story establishes the absolute heel that our victim Bayard is and sets the plot into action right away. The actor, William B. Davidson, chews up some scenery making no doubt to the fact that he will eventually die and how those responsible are sort of justified by that. This works well when we do finally see who the killer is as they should be sympathetic. No worries though since I’ll not be spoiling the good stuff here in this review.

Once he is shot and Sally shows up there is an appropriate amount of skulking around the old house at night with a thunderstorm blowing outside. I was enjoying the heck out of that, but then the next day when the killer succeeds it is a beautiful and sunny day. The atmosphere is a bit lacking, but I suppose it was clever to do it that way. Certainly not what I expected. The movie also does a wonderful job of giving us enough clues so that in hindsight I realized I could have guessed correctly at who the murderer was. Just in case you were wondering I was completely wrong. Though for me that is part of the fun of watching an old flick like this, getting fooled.

There isn’t much more I can say about this movie other than it is worth checking out. Being in the public domain it is easy to find online. I think I may have enjoyed this one even more than the previously mentioned While the Patient Slept. I recommend it if you are in the mood for a good murder.


© Copyright 2024 John Shatzer

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