Movie Review: A Strange Adventure (1932)
Synopsis: The wealthy but unwell Silas Wayne summons both his heirs and two police officers to his den with the intention of having one of his family members arrested. He is somehow stabbed in front of all the witnesses, leaving behind an un-signed will. Everyone in the room is a suspect and Detective-Sergeant Mitchell must figure out who committed the murder and how. He has help from an ambitious female reporter, 'Nosey' Toodles.
The movie is also known as The Wayne Murder Case.
Review: I came across this movie a couple weeks ago and, despite not much information from the description, added it to my library for when I wanted to watch a movie and didn't have a lot of extra time (the film is only about an hour in length). I honestly didn't expect too much from the film, but it ended up being a halfway decent murder mystery.
I think the thing I liked most about this murder case was how Silas (William V. Mong) was murdered in front of nine witnesses, including two police officers. And it wasn't even something simple, like him being poisoned, he was stabbed in the heart (something that is later confirmed as the cause of death) while everyone else was seated.
The fact everyone in the room, with the exception of maybe the police officers, had motive for killing him was also a nice touch. At first, it seemed like you could narrow it down to just the people who benefitted from his will not being signed but, when the document's details are revealed later, it was clear Silas had no intention of leaving anyone money by creating conditions the heirs wouldn't or couldn't meet. It also helped that nobody in that room actually deserved that money and were verbally admitting they would prefer to be at his funeral.
The addition of a cloaked figure stalking some of the heirs was also intriguing. Part of me wondered if maybe Silas faked his death (which would explain a lot) and was getting revenge "from beyond the grave." I also briefly thought maybe his butler, Jeff (Toones), was behind it until it became apparent he was just in the movie for comic relief.
Another thing I liked about this movie was the chemistry between Mitchell (Toomey) and Toodles (Clyde). They played off well, both as potential romantic partners and as rivals and their fast-paced conversations/flirtations did keep the movie lighthearted and fun, though there were times it did feel a bit like this was a sequel and I should already be familiar with the characters (as far as I can tell, that isn't the case).
One thing I was a bit disappointed about was Toodles actual involvement in solving the case. The movie does a great job of showing her as a cunning woman and even makes it seem like maybe she's onto something when she adds a question during Mitchell's interrogation and is confident she'll solve the case before him. However, that didn't end up being the case and, other than accidentally discovering the cloaked figure, she doesn't even factor into the murder mystery's solution. As someone who is a fan of strong female characters, I do feel like the movie wasted her a bit by having Mitchell do all the work in the end.
Final Opinion: I wasn't expecting much but this movie turned out to be an entertaining murder mystery with a fun romantic subplot between the two leads. It's worth taking the time to watch it on a rainy day.
My Grade: A-