July 3, 2008
There’s a murder at a masquerade party and everyone is a suspect. 1933 film is very talky and long-seeming, even at 70 minutes. Charles follows the detective around as he interviews everyone, and ends up solving the crime himself, much like he did in “Murder on the Campus” (see blog entry) the year before.
Charles role here is, hands down, the most unlike the Durango Kid role of any I’ve seen. He’s a glib nut, even more so than the carefree cad he played in “One in a Million” (see blog entry.)
He’s Michael Tracy. We meet him dressed as a yodeler (lederhosen, stockings, little hat, the works) hanging around the body of the murder victim. The detective asks him if he has a police record. “Yes, I’ve been arrested eh seven or eight times. Four times for creating a disturbance while under the influence of alcohol, three times for socking a cop in the nose, and once, once for murder. I was exonerated for that, though. You see, I only commit murder with pen and ink.” He’s a detective fiction writer and has an accent that fluctuates from lower class to sophisticate at whim.
He’s a smart ass: when the police can’t find the murder weapon, a knife, he quips over his shoulder on the way out of the room, “maybe the murderer was a sword swallower.”
He’s frisky: changing into his pjs in front of the cop, mock-slapping his feet off the bed, and bragging about his physique.
He’s girlish: poking his head into the kitchen, “Hello Gluttons! Save some rice pudding for me!”
He’s languid: always lounging around, smoking cigarettes, flipping through books, cooly discovering evidence.
With Steve/Durango, one always sees him wearing the mantle of masculinity, with varying degrees of success.
Here he’s not even trying. And it’s pretty refreshing.