December 6th, 2014

MYSTERY LINER (1934) **

Captain Holling (Noah Beery) has a nervous breakdown on the eve of his ship’s maiden voyage. Aboard the boat is a top secret device that can control other ships via remote control. Naturally, this invention could be deadly if it fell into the wrong hands. Once the ship sets sail, people starting getting bumped off, and the concerned crew try to find the murderer.

Based on a story by Edgar Wallace, Mystery Liner suffers from some dull performances and stagy direction. The plot is somewhat interesting, but director William (Mr. Wong, Detective) Nigh is unable to infuse the film with very much energy. The pacing is also pretty draggy, although the set-up isn’t all that bad.

The problem is that all the rigmarole with the passengers on the boat eats up a lot of screen time and gets in the way of the investigation. The scenes with the crotchety old lady and her henpecked grandson are especially annoying and go on way too long. The various red herrings and the accusations of guilt amongst the crew are handled rather indifferently too.

The good news is that it’s only an hour long. The bad news is that it feels a lot longer. As far as these creaky murder-mysteries from the ‘30s go, you can definitely do worse.

AKA: The Ghost of John Holling.