The Missing Juror


1h 6m 1944

Brief Synopsis

A detective tries to stop whomever is murdering the jurors on a notorious murder case.

Film Details

Also Known As
Tomorrow We Die
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Nov 16, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,955ft

Synopsis

After Jason Sloan is strangled and his body left in his car to be crushed by an onrushing train, reporter Joe Keats becomes intrigued. Joe, who covered the infamous murder trial of Harry J. Wharton, believes that Sloan, a juror on the Wharton case, is the latest victim of Wharton's revenge from beyond the grave. After convincing his editor, Willard Apple, to run a series on the fatal mishaps that have befallen four other members of the jury, Joe launches his series with a recount of the trial: Found guilty of the murder of Marie Chapel, the mild-mannered Wharton is incarcerated to await his execution by hanging. Through months of appeals, Wharton watches as condemned man after condemned man meets his demise and by the time his last appeal is denied, Wharton has become deranged, obsessed by death. On the eve of Wharton's execution, Joe, who has always believed in his innocence, encounters George Sasbo, the private detective whose testimony convicted Wharton. Later, when Sasbo is gunned down in the street, he gasps with his dying breath that Wharton was framed. The next morning, the governor pardons Wharton, who, now insane, is institutionalized. One day, a member of the jury visits Wharton to make amends. Soon after, Wharton's room explodes into flames, and when Wharton's body is recovered from the ashes, it is burned beyond recognition. After completing the first installment of his story, Joe visits Alice Hill, a member of the jury, at her antique store. Alice has a date for tea with former jury foreman Jerome K. Bentley, whom she has not seen since the trial, and so answers Joe's questions brusquely and then departs. Returning to his office, Joe begins to have reservations about sensationalizing the story of the jury until news comes of the death of another juror. One evening, after Bentley orders a shipment of antiques to furnish his new house, Joe and Alice arrive at her apartment to find Bentley waiting inside. Stating that he mistakenly picked up Alice's key and has come to return it, Bentley leaves. Later that night, Joe finds Bentley waiting for him outside Alice's building. Bentley claims that he can identify the killer, and invites Joe to accompany him to see if his hunch is correct. At his health club, Bentley has his neck massaged by Cullie, the masseur, and then invites Joe to join him in the steam room. As steam pours into the room, Bentley sneaks out and secures the door with the sash from his robe, trapping Joe inside. Noticing an excess of steam, Cullie breaks open the door, rescues Joe and rushes him to the hospital. When Apple visits, Joe tells him that Bentley deliberately locked him in the steam room. After Apple discounts Joe's accusation, informing him that a man named Pierson has confessed to the murders, Joe becomes alarmed, fearing that the confession is only a ploy to make the jurors drop their guards. Hurrying to the police station, Joe tricks Pierson into admitting that he does not know the names of the remaining jurors. When the story of Pierson's confession hits the papers, Joe, fearing for the safety of the jurors, phones the home of Peter Jackson, one of the remaining five. After Mrs. Jackson informs him that her husband left to meet a man in the nearby town of Buckminster, Joe hastens to the address and finds Jackson's body swinging from a beam. Immediately proceeding to the sheriff's office, Joe reports the murder and phones Apple. When the deputies return to the house to retrieve the body, however, it is no longer there, and the sheriff, thinking that the reporter is trying to manufacture a story, jails Joe. Soon after, Alice receives a telegram from Joe, asking her to meet him that night in the town of Glen Lock. After Alice leaves for the train station, Apple phones her apartment and Tex, her assistant, answers. When Apple informs her that Joe is jailed in Buckminster, Tex realizes that something is amiss. While Alice unsuspectingly boards the train for Glen Lock, Tex and Apple speed to Glen Lock. Soon after, Jackson's body is found alongside the river and the sheriff releases Joe and issues a warrant for Bentley's arrest. Upon arriving at the Glen Lock station, Alice is met by Wharton, who has shorn the beard and discarded the glasses he wore to impersonate Bentley. Wharton forces Alice into his car, while Apple, unable to reach Alice at the depot, phones Joe and alerts him of her peril. At his house, Wharton pulls a noose from the beams and is about to drape it around Alice's neck when Joe shoots and kills him from the window. Joe then writes the final installment of his story, explaining that it was Bentley who visited Wharton on the day of the fire. After hanging the jury foreman in revenge, Wharton set fire to the room and assumed his identity, allowing him to wreak vengeance "from the grave."

Film Details

Also Known As
Tomorrow We Die
Genre
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
Nov 16, 1944
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
5,955ft

Articles

The Missing Juror - THE MISSING JUROR - A Rarely Seen Suspense Thriller from Director Budd Boetticher


The Missing Juror (1944) is a routine B mystery, a film that would likely be even more forgotten today than it already is were it not the work of a director -- Oscar Boetticher, Jr. -- who would go on to become, as Budd Boetticher, one of the finest and most influential directors of 1950s westerns. This little programmer was only Boetticher's second directing credit, and while there is little stylistically to tie the film to his later, more personal pictures, it does show a young filmmaker figuring things out and using the camera and lighting to create atmosphere that at some points elevates the all-too-obvious script -- not to the level of film noir, but at least up a few notches. Most of all, Boetticher's penchant for humor is on display as he emphasizes the comedy in several scenes and plays out bits of comic business, especially with the character played by Joseph Crehan, well beyond what is required. These little moments are quite enjoyable in much the same way that comic interludes steal the show in otherwise dramatic Boetticher westerns like Seven Men From Now (1956) or The Tall T (1957).

The Missing Juror casts Jim Bannon as a reporter who uncovers the existence of a serial killer. Several members of a jury that wrongfully convicted George Macready to death (a sentence that was overturned but still led Macready to insanity and presumably to his demise) have died in recent weeks, and for some reason that police haven't yet concluded that there's something fishy going on. Bannon gets a hunch, more jurors die, and soon enough the cops are on board and lovely blonde juror Janis Carter is next in line...

Boetticher first worked with Janis Carter on The Girl in the Case (1944), when Boetticher was assistant to director William Berke. While he had already worked as AD on other films, including The More the Merrier (1943) and Cover Girl (1944), the assignment of The Girl in the Case was meant by Columbia chief Harry Cohn to specifically prepare Boetticher to start directing his own features. Boetticher later wrote in his memoir that working with Berke was "a dream -- [he was] absolutely sensational with me. He didn't mind my nosing around on the set. And, he went out of his way to help me learn the art of making a full-length film in two short weeks. Believe me, it's not easy! But, a dreadful thing happened on that set. I developed a real crush on the leading lady."

That leading lady was Janis Carter, whom Boetticher described as "my first true love in the picture business. I'd never seen anyone that beautiful up close, not even Rita [Hayworth] or Linda [Darnell] from Blood and Sand. But, heck, almost everyone in Hollywood can fake looking great. It was more than that. She was just so darn nice and so much fun. And the fact that her legs made Betty Grable's legs look... Well, Miss Grable's legs just weren't as pretty."

It was an innocent infatuation -- Carter was married, and the two simply became good friends. In the meantime, Boetticher was assigned some uncredited directing work on Submarine Raider (1942) and U-Boat Prisoner (1944) before he finally got to direct his first full feature, One Mysterious Night (1944), and then The Missing Juror, both of which starred Janis Carter. Boetticher treated all these films simply as training. "Everything involved with my first five films at Columbia was a learning experience," he wrote. "These little black-and-white pictures were made in twelve days for one hundred thousand dollars. They were called 'fillers.' They filled the bill consisting of a major motion picture and a second feature... I suspect folks bought a lot of popcorn when my pictures came on.

"I really faked those first five [pictures] with a bundle of phony confidence," he added. Soon enough, the confidence would be genuine, and the movies would be much better. But The Missing Juror is not bad, and for fans of Boetticher, it's well worth a look. Sony's DVD-R, produced on demand, is a zero-frills but good-looking transfer.

To order The Missing Juror, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold
The Missing Juror - The Missing Juror - A Rarely Seen Suspense Thriller From Director Budd Boetticher

The Missing Juror - THE MISSING JUROR - A Rarely Seen Suspense Thriller from Director Budd Boetticher

The Missing Juror (1944) is a routine B mystery, a film that would likely be even more forgotten today than it already is were it not the work of a director -- Oscar Boetticher, Jr. -- who would go on to become, as Budd Boetticher, one of the finest and most influential directors of 1950s westerns. This little programmer was only Boetticher's second directing credit, and while there is little stylistically to tie the film to his later, more personal pictures, it does show a young filmmaker figuring things out and using the camera and lighting to create atmosphere that at some points elevates the all-too-obvious script -- not to the level of film noir, but at least up a few notches. Most of all, Boetticher's penchant for humor is on display as he emphasizes the comedy in several scenes and plays out bits of comic business, especially with the character played by Joseph Crehan, well beyond what is required. These little moments are quite enjoyable in much the same way that comic interludes steal the show in otherwise dramatic Boetticher westerns like Seven Men From Now (1956) or The Tall T (1957). The Missing Juror casts Jim Bannon as a reporter who uncovers the existence of a serial killer. Several members of a jury that wrongfully convicted George Macready to death (a sentence that was overturned but still led Macready to insanity and presumably to his demise) have died in recent weeks, and for some reason that police haven't yet concluded that there's something fishy going on. Bannon gets a hunch, more jurors die, and soon enough the cops are on board and lovely blonde juror Janis Carter is next in line... Boetticher first worked with Janis Carter on The Girl in the Case (1944), when Boetticher was assistant to director William Berke. While he had already worked as AD on other films, including The More the Merrier (1943) and Cover Girl (1944), the assignment of The Girl in the Case was meant by Columbia chief Harry Cohn to specifically prepare Boetticher to start directing his own features. Boetticher later wrote in his memoir that working with Berke was "a dream -- [he was] absolutely sensational with me. He didn't mind my nosing around on the set. And, he went out of his way to help me learn the art of making a full-length film in two short weeks. Believe me, it's not easy! But, a dreadful thing happened on that set. I developed a real crush on the leading lady." That leading lady was Janis Carter, whom Boetticher described as "my first true love in the picture business. I'd never seen anyone that beautiful up close, not even Rita [Hayworth] or Linda [Darnell] from Blood and Sand. But, heck, almost everyone in Hollywood can fake looking great. It was more than that. She was just so darn nice and so much fun. And the fact that her legs made Betty Grable's legs look... Well, Miss Grable's legs just weren't as pretty." It was an innocent infatuation -- Carter was married, and the two simply became good friends. In the meantime, Boetticher was assigned some uncredited directing work on Submarine Raider (1942) and U-Boat Prisoner (1944) before he finally got to direct his first full feature, One Mysterious Night (1944), and then The Missing Juror, both of which starred Janis Carter. Boetticher treated all these films simply as training. "Everything involved with my first five films at Columbia was a learning experience," he wrote. "These little black-and-white pictures were made in twelve days for one hundred thousand dollars. They were called 'fillers.' They filled the bill consisting of a major motion picture and a second feature... I suspect folks bought a lot of popcorn when my pictures came on. "I really faked those first five [pictures] with a bundle of phony confidence," he added. Soon enough, the confidence would be genuine, and the movies would be much better. But The Missing Juror is not bad, and for fans of Boetticher, it's well worth a look. Sony's DVD-R, produced on demand, is a zero-frills but good-looking transfer. To order The Missing Juror, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeremy Arnold

The Missing Juror


Jury service proves downright deadly in the 1944 B film noir The Missing Juror. You can tell it's from Columbia because of the on-screen presence of Janis Carter and George Macready, two studio mainstays during the '40s. But the film's chief point of interest is as the second directing credit for Budd Boetticher, best known for the Westerns he made with Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown in the '50s. Even this early in his career, he shows the economy and sense of pacing that would mark such classics as The Tall T (1957) and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). As a journeyman director, however, it's doubtful he had much input on the script, which lacks the psychological subtlety of his later works.

Jim Bannon stars as a reporter whose coverage of a murder leads him to discover the victim had served on the jury for a notorious murder case, and that four other jurors have died under mysterious circumstances. Coincidentally, he had earlier discovered that a key witness' perjury had led to the convicted man's release from death row to an insane asylum, where he was driven mad waiting to be hanged for a crime he hadn't committed. As more victims turn up, he befriends a female juror (Carter), who has struck up an acquaintance with the jury's foreman (Macready). In the course of 66 minutes, the noose tightens, quite literally, with Bannon racing to save Carter from becoming another victim.

Boetticher had only recently entered the movies after a peripatetic career that included jobs as a cowboy and a bullfighter, both of which led to his first movie credits. In 1939, he served as a horse wrangler for Of Mice and Men, then two years later signed on as technical advisor for the bullfighting drama Blood and Sand (1941), starring Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth. During the latter film, he watched director Rouben Mamoulian carefully and also sat in with 20th Century-Fox editor Barbara McLean. That convinced him to pursue a Hollywood career, and before long he landed a job at Columbia. There he started as an assistant director before moving into directing B films, starting with One Mysterious Night (1944), which also starred Carter. Although he would later deride his earlier low-budget films, scholars have begun noting elements of his style in them.

Leading man Bannon was the star of radio's I Love a Mystery. He made three films based on the series at Columbia and then went on to play Red Ryder at Eagle-Lion. Carter was an aspiring opera singer whose nervousness ruined her Metropolitan Opera audition. Instead, she wound up on Broadway, where Darryl F. Zanuck spotted her. He signed her for 20th Century-Fox, where she lasted two years before moving to Columbia for most of the '40s.

The real star of The Missing Juror, however, was Macready, though for reasons that can't be revealed without giving away the ending. The Missing Juror was only his third film at Columbia, the studio where he would play his most famous roles, most of them villainous. Macready was born to be an actor; in fact he was a descendant of the legendary British Shakespearean actor William Charles Macready. After a Broadway career in which he appeared with such stars as Katharine Cornell and Helen Hayes, he turned to Hollywood in his forties, making his film debut at Columbia in 1942's Commandos Strike at Dawn. He would become a studio mainstay, playing everything from Nina Foch's deranged spouse in My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) to French writer Alfred DeMusset in A Song to Remember the same year. His most famous role, however, was the maniacal casino owner involved with Rita Hayworth and, possibly, Glenn Ford in Gilda (1946). Cultured villains were his stock in trade, partly because of his mellifluous, deep voice but also because of the scar on his cheek from a car wreck when he was 20. Off-screen, the only thing he shared with those roles was his sense of culture. A longtime art collector, he and good friend Vincent Price ran a Hollywood gallery whose clients included Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Macready was always philosophical about his typecasting as a villain, claiming that it often brought him better roles than the leads. "I like heavies," he once said, "I think there's a little bit of evil in all of us."

As with many B movies, The Missing Juror offered bit roles to actors who would become more famous later in their careers. Quick-eyed viewers will spot Mike Mazurki as a masseur the same year he scored his breakthrough role as Moose Malloy in Murder, My Sweet (1944), and Ray Teal, best-known as Sheriff Roy Coffee on the TV series Bonanza, as a police detective.

Producer: Wallace MacDonald
Director: Budd Boetticher
Screenplay: Charles O'Neal
Based on a story by Leon Abrams and Richard Hill Wilkinson
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Art Director: George Brooks
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Cast: Jim Bannon (Joe Keats), Janis Carter (Alice Hill), George Macready (Harry Wharton/Jerome K. Bentley), Jean Stevens (Tex Tuttle), Joseph Crehan (Willard Apple aka Falstaff), Milton Kibbee (Joe), Mike Mazurki (Cullie), Ray Teal (Chief of Detectives at Line-Up).
BW-66m.

by Frank Miller

The Missing Juror

Jury service proves downright deadly in the 1944 B film noir The Missing Juror. You can tell it's from Columbia because of the on-screen presence of Janis Carter and George Macready, two studio mainstays during the '40s. But the film's chief point of interest is as the second directing credit for Budd Boetticher, best known for the Westerns he made with Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown in the '50s. Even this early in his career, he shows the economy and sense of pacing that would mark such classics as The Tall T (1957) and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). As a journeyman director, however, it's doubtful he had much input on the script, which lacks the psychological subtlety of his later works. Jim Bannon stars as a reporter whose coverage of a murder leads him to discover the victim had served on the jury for a notorious murder case, and that four other jurors have died under mysterious circumstances. Coincidentally, he had earlier discovered that a key witness' perjury had led to the convicted man's release from death row to an insane asylum, where he was driven mad waiting to be hanged for a crime he hadn't committed. As more victims turn up, he befriends a female juror (Carter), who has struck up an acquaintance with the jury's foreman (Macready). In the course of 66 minutes, the noose tightens, quite literally, with Bannon racing to save Carter from becoming another victim. Boetticher had only recently entered the movies after a peripatetic career that included jobs as a cowboy and a bullfighter, both of which led to his first movie credits. In 1939, he served as a horse wrangler for Of Mice and Men, then two years later signed on as technical advisor for the bullfighting drama Blood and Sand (1941), starring Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth. During the latter film, he watched director Rouben Mamoulian carefully and also sat in with 20th Century-Fox editor Barbara McLean. That convinced him to pursue a Hollywood career, and before long he landed a job at Columbia. There he started as an assistant director before moving into directing B films, starting with One Mysterious Night (1944), which also starred Carter. Although he would later deride his earlier low-budget films, scholars have begun noting elements of his style in them. Leading man Bannon was the star of radio's I Love a Mystery. He made three films based on the series at Columbia and then went on to play Red Ryder at Eagle-Lion. Carter was an aspiring opera singer whose nervousness ruined her Metropolitan Opera audition. Instead, she wound up on Broadway, where Darryl F. Zanuck spotted her. He signed her for 20th Century-Fox, where she lasted two years before moving to Columbia for most of the '40s. The real star of The Missing Juror, however, was Macready, though for reasons that can't be revealed without giving away the ending. The Missing Juror was only his third film at Columbia, the studio where he would play his most famous roles, most of them villainous. Macready was born to be an actor; in fact he was a descendant of the legendary British Shakespearean actor William Charles Macready. After a Broadway career in which he appeared with such stars as Katharine Cornell and Helen Hayes, he turned to Hollywood in his forties, making his film debut at Columbia in 1942's Commandos Strike at Dawn. He would become a studio mainstay, playing everything from Nina Foch's deranged spouse in My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) to French writer Alfred DeMusset in A Song to Remember the same year. His most famous role, however, was the maniacal casino owner involved with Rita Hayworth and, possibly, Glenn Ford in Gilda (1946). Cultured villains were his stock in trade, partly because of his mellifluous, deep voice but also because of the scar on his cheek from a car wreck when he was 20. Off-screen, the only thing he shared with those roles was his sense of culture. A longtime art collector, he and good friend Vincent Price ran a Hollywood gallery whose clients included Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Macready was always philosophical about his typecasting as a villain, claiming that it often brought him better roles than the leads. "I like heavies," he once said, "I think there's a little bit of evil in all of us." As with many B movies, The Missing Juror offered bit roles to actors who would become more famous later in their careers. Quick-eyed viewers will spot Mike Mazurki as a masseur the same year he scored his breakthrough role as Moose Malloy in Murder, My Sweet (1944), and Ray Teal, best-known as Sheriff Roy Coffee on the TV series Bonanza, as a police detective. Producer: Wallace MacDonald Director: Budd Boetticher Screenplay: Charles O'Neal Based on a story by Leon Abrams and Richard Hill Wilkinson Cinematography: L. William O'Connell Art Director: George Brooks Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff Cast: Jim Bannon (Joe Keats), Janis Carter (Alice Hill), George Macready (Harry Wharton/Jerome K. Bentley), Jean Stevens (Tex Tuttle), Joseph Crehan (Willard Apple aka Falstaff), Milton Kibbee (Joe), Mike Mazurki (Cullie), Ray Teal (Chief of Detectives at Line-Up). BW-66m. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Tomorrow We Die. This picture marked the screen debut of Jean Stevens, a former dancing coach whose real name was Peggy Carroll.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 16, 1944

Released in United States Fall November 16, 1944