November 24th, 2009

I KILLED THAT MAN (1941) **

While on his way to the electric chair, a death row murderer attempts to blow the whistle on the man who framed him.  Just as he’s about to open his trap though, he gets killed by a poison blow dart.  The District Attorney then locks the door and forces everyone in the room to strip so he can find the murder weapon.  He doesn't find dick and without concrete evidence, he lets the killer go free.  When more people wind up dead, the DA enlists the help of a snooping reporter to trap the master criminal.

 

I Killed That Man starts off with a bang.  The scene of the inmate getting whacked in plain view of several people unnoticed was cool but the flick grinds to a halt once the DA stupidly lets the murderer roam free.  Why did he do this?  Because if he didn’t, we wouldn’t have a movie, that’s why.  There’s also a dumb subplot about the reporter not being able to cash a check that slows the action down considerably.

 

As far as these cheapie Monogram murder mysteries go, I Killed That Man pretty middle of the road.  It’s got all the characters (chatty reporters, dapper detectives, well-dressed thugs, etc.) you’d expect from the genre and the short running time (69 minutes) is definitely a plus.  I Killed That Man is innocuous and forgettable but if you’re a fiend for this sort of thing I won’t stop you from checking it out.

 

Director Phil Rosen later helmed several Charlie Chan mysteries. 

THE INVISIBLE KILLER (1939) * ½

The District Attorney starts a war on the gambling rackets and arrests a small time casino owner.  He agrees to be a stool pigeon for the DA but is killed while talking on the telephone before he can spill the beans.  The DA’s reporter fiancé does some digging and learns that the murderer is sending soundwaves over telephone lines to bump off the people that stand in his way of controlling the gambling rackets.

 

This mundane murder mystery from “Poverty Row” studio PRC is derivative as Hell and boring as shit.  It’s also a bit of a cheat since the “Invisible Killer” is just deadly soundwaves; so don’t go into this thinking this is an Invisible Man movie or something.  On top of that, too much of the flick focuses on the annoying female reporter and her greasy detective fiancé.  Their idiotic banter will grate on your nerves PDQ.

 

Sam (The Terror of Tiny Town) Newfield films everything without a shred of style.  He does give us an OK car chase (for the time that is) but that’s about it.  I’ll cut him some slack because this is one of THIRTEEN movies he directed in 1939.  I guess when you churn out more than a movie a month; quality is probably the least of your concerns.

 

The dumb reporter chick gets the best line of the movie when she is nearly shot and quips, “That’s the first time I’ve been serenaded with lead!”