Movie Review: Tomorrow at Seven (1933)

Synopsis: Crime author Neil Broderick is writing a book about the Black Ace, a killer known for warning his victims in advance by giving them an Ace of Spades. He visits wealthy Black Ace expert Thornton Drake in Chicago, befriending Martha, the daughter of Drake's secretary Austin Winters, on the train ride there. When the Black Ace leaves a warning message in a puzzle, the group, along with two police officers, take a private plane to Louisiana. However, the threat wasn't meant for Drake and during a blackout on the plane, Winters is murdered instead.

Who's in it? The movie stars Chester Morris, Vivienne Osborne, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins and Grant Mitchell.

Review: I came across this movie on Paramount Plus early this morning and, while the description left a lot to be desired, the short runtime made it a good choice before heading into the office. Overall, I'd have to say it exceeded my expectations.

I am a big fan of "locked room" mysteries and there isn't a better locked room than a private plane in the air. Counting the crew, it left just seven suspects. On top of it, there was the mystery about why Winters (Mitchell) was the one who was murdered other than his employer. Was it just a mistake or was he the primary target? He had a letter claiming to know the killer's identity but, since it was stolen before it was read, there was no way of knowing if he actually did know.

I don't know if the movie really needed the comic relief from the bumbling officers, Dugan (Jenkins) and Clancy (McHugh), though it did add an additional element I found I enjoyed. This was partly because they were a little too incompetent and it made me wonder if one (or both) was actually the killer. It's not as though anyone took the time to verify their identities.

I also liked how even the main protagonist Broderick (Morris), was portrayed in a way that didn't leave him above suspicion. Much like the police officers, we aren't given a lot of information about him, including any sort of proof he really was Neil Broderick. It kept the door open for a surprise twist, especially when Broderick starts behaving suspiciously and a car is revealed to be waiting for him in Louisiana.

My biggest complaint about the movie is, while it reveals who the killer is, it neglects to give a motive for his killing spree, just Winters' death. The movie was fine without it, but it was just one of those details that would have made it a lot better, at least in my opinion.

Final Opinion: The ending is a bit rushed and leaves out some pertinent information about the killer but overall, I still enjoyed watching what was a decent mystery.

My Grade: B+


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