Cast & Crew
Veda Ann Borg
When accountant Johnny Jones delivers $100,000 in securities to the office of broker Oliver Wentworth, he asks Kitty O'Day, his sweetheart and Wentworth's secretary, to have dinner with him. Wentworth, who is planning a trip to Boston, asks Kitty to pick up his train tickets and deliver them to his home that evening, forcing her to break her date with Johnny. Outside the office building, Johnny complains to Kitty that Wentworth is monopolizing her time and boasts that he would like to kill him. Johnny's threat is overheard by the cab driver who takes Kitty to the Wentworth house. Kitty arrives to find the house in total darkness because of a power failure, and is greeted by Charles, the butler, who directs her to wait in the study while Wentworth finishes showering. Noticing that it is getting late, Kitty knocks at the bathroom door and finds Wentworth dead, hanging from a rafter. The police are summoned, and Inspector Clancy declares that Wentworth was drowned and then hanged to make his death appear a suicide. As Clancy questions Kitty and Robert Jeffers, Wentworth's attorney, who had come to deliver some papers, the inspector's assistant, Mike Storm escorts Johnny into the room. Johnny, who has followed Kitty to the house, claims that someone knocked him out and left him lying in the grass, unconscious. Soon after, Mrs. Georgia Wentworth and her lover, Harry Downs, return from the theater and learn of Wentworth's death. After Kitty accuses Mrs. Wentworth of infidelity, the two women argue and Mrs. Wentworth leaves to spend the night at her apartment at the Fenton Arms. The next day, Kitty decides to solve the murder herself, and presses the reluctant Johnny into helping her. After visiting the police station to apprise the inspector that Downs and Mrs. Wentworth probably committed the murder, Kitty and Johnny proceed to the Fenton Arms, home to both Mrs. Wentworth and Downs. Outside the building, the two argue about the murder, and once again, the same cab driver overhears them. After ascertaining that neither Downs nor Mrs. Wentworth are home, Kitty and Johnny sneak past the desk clerk and disguise themselves as maid and porter. Soon after Kitty and Johnny slip into Mrs. Wentworth's apartment, Mrs. Wentworth returns home. Hiding her face with a feather duster, Kitty shoves Johnny behind the couch and begins to clean furiously. Downs, meanwhile, has discovered that his apartment has been burglarized and notifies the inspector. Deciding to leave the building, Mrs. Wentworth and Downs hand the inspector their keys and then depart. When the inspector opens Mrs. Wentworth's door, Johnny and Kitty climb out the window and along the ledge to Downs's apartment. After spotting them through the window, the inspector sends Mike after them. Climbing onto the roof and down the fire escape, the couple sneaks into Downs's apartment and then hides in the bathtub. The inspector trails them there, and when he pulls open the shower curtain, they find Downs's body, stabbed to death. Mrs. Wentworth arrives soon after and informs the inspector that Downs's real name was Jerry Benson and that he was using an alias because he had a police record. After Kitty accuses her of murder, Mrs. Wentworth fires both Kitty and Johnny and the inspector then dismisses them all. Kitty and Johnny next search Wentworth's office, where they find the securities in the safe and the butler's body in the closet. Notified about the intruders by the night watchman, the inspector arrives, and Kitty locks him in the closet and flees with Johnny. Upon reading in the morning paper that they are wanted for murder, Kitty decides to hire Jeffers to represent them. When Jeffers lights his cigarette with the lighter that disappeared on the night of Wentworth's murder, Kitty realizes that he is the murderer and attempts to leave. Pulling out his gun, Jeffers forces Kitty and Johnny into a cab and takes them to his apartment, where his gang is waiting. The driver recognizes Johnny as the man he overheard discussing murder, and sends the inspector to Jeffers' address. As the thugs demand that Kitty turn over the securities, the inspector arrives and arrests them. Kitty then explains that Jeffers was really a thief who was in league with the butler and Benson to steal Wentworth's securities. She continues that after murdering Wentworth, who was dealing in stolen securities, Jeffers decided to eliminate his accomplices. Climbing into the waiting cab, Kitty then extracts the securities that she had hidden under the seat and hands them to the inspector.
Veda Ann Borg
Detective Kitty O'Day
Detective Kitty O'Day
Poverty Row Theatre Collection on DVD
I guess the main question about this DVD is if it includes any Monogram buried treasures akin to PRC's Detour and Eagle-Lion's T-Men or, conversely, if it would be nothing but schlock. The result is something in between. There is definitely no buried treasure to be had, but the inventory goes something like this: one interesting genre-blender, one competent programmer, one groaner.
Let's get the groaner out of the way first. Private Snuffy Smith, based on the Barney Google and Snuffy Smith comic strip, is about as bad as comedies get. Maybe it's redundant to call this movie cartoonish, considering its source material, but this tale of Great Smoky Mountains hillbillies makes the Ma and Pa Kettle series seem sophisticated and witty by comparison. Bud Duncan, who plays the bulbous-nosed title character, seems to have less comic flair than Dick Cheney, and this moonshiner avoiding a revenuer (Edgar Kennedy), joining the army and then finding that - gadzooks! - his sergeant is the revenuer, is just a drag that can't get over soon enough. Kennedy and his "slow burn" are both favorites of mine, but I don't think the perpetually flustered actor should ever be the most restrained thing in a movie. It's hard to believe director Cline made this just after the W.C. Fields picture Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. It's even harder to believe it spawned a sequel.
Next, there's Detective Kitty O'Day, the movie of the three that is probably most representative of a poverty row studio's output. Since the advent of film, a big part of B-movies has been knocking off hit formulas. That's what this comic thriller does. With Jean Parker as a meddlesome secretary who investigates the murder of her boss, the premise resembles previous series like the Torchy Blane and Maisie movies. Not surprisingly, Beaudine directed two of the Torchy movies starring tough cookie Glenda Farrell. There's nothing at all special here, and everything is by-the-numbers, from the Irish detectives to the pampered rich widow. But Parker (Little Women) plays the part to the hilt, and this is certainly on a par with the studio B-movies it mimics.
That leaves Club Paradise, which doesn't rate a full-fledged recommendation but is a very unusual mix of bleak film noir and musical. Young heroine Julie (Doris Merrick) begins the story working in a factory and living with her stressed-out extended family. But she's kicked out of the house after she and musician boyfriend Ray (Eddie Quillan) get snared in a raid in an illegal gambling club. With the broke boyfriend off to jail for 30 days because he can't pay his fine, Julie turns her attention to Danny (Robert Lowery), a shady hunk who helps her land on her feet - he gets her a job as a dancer at the titular club - but turns out to be bad news. Lowery, who played Batman in the abysmal, cut-rate 1949 Batman and Robin serial, is hardly Dan Duryea as a noir cad, but the movie's women are more interesting, especially Mae (Isabell Jewel), the club's past-her-prime singer, who warns Julie that "When you get stuck on a guy you leave yourself wide open for punishment."
While dance numbers provide occasional levity, Julie finds little solace in flitting between the two men in her life. Smitten Ray is around to offer himself whenever Danny disappears without telling Julie where he's gone, but she just can't get rid of her itch for Danny. In the most stunning development, Julie sleeps with a thug to settle Danny's debts to him, an act that sends her on a path to despair. Punishment, indeed.
Club Paradise surely isn't the coherent, brooding noir it might have been, but it's the cream of the Poverty Row Theater DVD, and it surely makes you wonder how it might have been with Robert Siodmak (Phantom Lady) directing Ella Raines and Duryea in it. Unlike the other two movies on the disc, the supporting cast in Club Paradise includes many familiar faces, from Quillan (The Grapes of Wrath) and Jewel (The Seventh Victim) to Preston Sturges regular Dewey Robinson and Vince Barnett (Scarface). All three movies, which have presumably long ago slipped into the public domain, are marred by missing frames and many splices. The DVD includes a disclaimer warning about the splices, and explaining that the transfer is from the best available sources. If you grew up on old movies on UHF TV, the experience will actually be a little nostalgic.
For more information about Poverty Row Theater, visit Image Entertainment. To order Poverty Row Theatre Collection, go to TCM Shopping.
by Paul Sherman
Poverty Row Theatre Collection on DVD
The working titles of this film were Accusing Corpse and Detective Kitty Kelly. Although the character played by Tim Ryan is listed as "Inspector Miles" in the Variety review, he is called "Inspector Clancy" in the film. Similiary, Douglas Fowley's character is named "Anton Downs" in the Variety review, but in the film he is called "Harry Downs." In 1945, Columbia produced a sequel to this film titled The Adventures of Kitty O'Day.