Friday, January 11, 2013

No Hands on the Clock (1941)

I’m not sure how much tinkering Hollywood did with the source novel, the title refers to a clock face outside a mortuary in Reno that has a pendulum that the characters pass by, but I like that the writers stripped the film down so that it’s a solid little missing person/ murder mystery. As with most program pictures it ain’t high art, but it is damn entertaining.

The plot of the film has detective Chester Morris interrupted on his honeymoon in Reno by his boss. It seems that his boss has a rich client who wants to know where his son is. Morris balks at taking the case, after all he is on his honeymoon, however the boss promises his new wife a mink, so he takes the case figuring it’s going to take a day or so to crack. However things are much more complicated with a dysfunctional family, gangsters, the police, the FBI and love of glasses of milk getting in the way. There is no way to easily summarize it, just understand that how it all plays out will entertain you.

For me one of the strongest joys is the cast Which has Morris joined by Grant Withers, Rod Cameron, Dick Purcell, Jean Parker, Keye Luke (uncredited), and many others chewing the scenery. To be certain these are all roles they’ve played before but at the same time they know how to hit the marks and sell the parts. I had a blast. In a weird way the film feels like one of the Boston Blackie series which Morris started at about the same time this was released. I’d be very curious if this film had a hand in getting Morris the Blackie role.

I really liked it. It entertained the hell out of, and what was supposed to be a film I fell asleep to became a film I was up until 1230 in the morning watching.

Worth tracking down.

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