Cast & Crew
B. B. Ray
Lieutenant Dan Burke bursts into the office of Police Chief James Sullivan to ask for the hand of his daughter, Diane, and Sullivan acquiesces, although he would have preferred that she marry the eminent criminologist Professor David Graham. Dan is later dispatched to pursue a gang of bank robbers, and when their car crashes, he discovers that his half-brother Johnny was in on the job. Before dying in Dan's arms, Johnny explains that he was broke and didn't know what he was getting into when he joined the gang. Dan makes an attempt to cover up Johnny's identity; however, he is found out and Sullivan demands that Diane break off the engagement. Sullivan later invites Professor Graham to police headquarters to lecture on the science of criminology, and Captain Bill Withers, who has been ordered by Sullivan to prevent Dan from obtaining a marriage license, introduces Graham to the police force. At the midnight lecture in a darkened room, various convicts are brought before Graham, who diagnoses their criminal tendencies with surprising accuracy just from their appearance. When the lights go back on, it appears that Sullivan has had a heart attack and Police Surgeon Kelly, who had recently given Sullivan a clean bill of health, is called in. Graham asserts that Sullivan was murdered with a rare jungle poison affixed to a dart, and suspicion falls on a number of people present at the lecture. Sullivan had recently reorganized the department, eliminating graft and corruption, and a number of police officers had been disgruntled. Mary Ryan, a tough policewoman, had been angry at Sullivan because she believed that he had allowed her daughter Kathleen, who worked as Sullivan's secretary, to become too attached to him, and she subsequently threatened him with a scandal. Dan has a clear-cut motive because Sullivan had forbidden his daughter to marry him, and, in addition, Sullivan had been receiving strange and threatening anonymous phone calls. A needle is eventually found in the room, but as Kelly is about to explain why it could not have been the instrument that killed Sullivan, he collapses to the floor, dead. Graham declares that Dan killed the two men by blowing the poisoned darts out of his cigar, and he explains that Dan's tendency to crime is a hereditary trait which he shared with his half-brother. However, Dan cleverly traces the murder weapon to Graham, and Graham is arrested for the murders. Six months later, while Dan and Diane share a picnic, they read of Graham's execution in the newspaper. Graham confessed in prison that he had diagnosed himself as a criminal, and when he realized that he could not win Diane, he became obsessed with committing the perfect crime.
B. B. Ray
Al St. John
Although the picture's onscreen credits include a copyright statement, its title was not found in the copyright register. A Spanish-language version, El crimen de media noche, was shot simultaneously.