Shadow of Doubt


1h 14m 1935
Shadow of Doubt

Brief Synopsis

Murder charges threaten an actress's marriage plans.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Feb 15, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Shadow of Doubt by Arthur Somers Roche (New York, 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Despite objections from his wealthy Aunt Melissa, New York advertising man Sim Sturdevant intends to marry motion picture actress Trenna Plaice. Melissa insists that Trenna and her lot are "the riffraff of theatre and radio," and admits that she has had the actress investigated and has learned that she is penniless. While Trenna's career is waning, Sim proposes to her and offers her a New York radio job, which she finds insulting. Trenna maintains that she is still as popular as ever and boasts that producer Len Haworth has offered her a film contract and has proposed to her. Sim, who knows that Haworth is an unscrupulous womanizer, becomes angered at the news and informs Trenna that Haworth is already engaged to debutante Lisa Bellwood. To prove Sim wrong, Trenna calls Haworth and informs him that she will accept both the contract and the marriage proposal. Lisa, who overhears her fiancé's telephone conversation with Trenna, later calls Trenna to tell her that she will be marrying Haworth the next day. That evening, Haworth takes Lisa to the Merry-Go-Round Club, where singer Inez Johnson is performing. When the drunken Haworth begins to pick a quarrel with Sim, Sim punches him. Witnessing the row is Reed Ryan, a newspaper columnist, whom Sim bribes to keep the story quiet. Lisa thanks Sim for giving Haworth what he deserved. Before leaving the nightclub, Haworth vows to take revenge on Sim, a threat overheared by the cigrette girl, who promptly relays the news to Sim. While Haworth walks back to his apartment, Trenna beats him there, relieves Ehrhardt, his butler, and then waits for Haworth to return. When Trenna realizes that Lisa has accompanied him home, she hides. Soon after arriving home, Haworth loses consciousness, and when Ehrhardt returns, he finds his boss dead of a gunshot wound. Because of his brawl with Haworth at the Merry-Go-Round that night, Sim becomes the prime suspect in the murder. It is soon learned, however, that Trenna and Lisa were in Haworth's apartment at the time of the murder. Especially concerned about the news is Lisa's millionaire father, Morgan Bellwood, who offers Ryan $10,000 to keep his daughter's name out of the papers. Ryan rejects the bribe, however, explaining that he will not betray his friend Sim. Later, Ryan finds an old newspaper clipping announcing the actress' receipt of a Luger pistol as an award for her fine marksmanship on the set of one of her films. After Trenna explains to Sim that she went to Haworth's to break off their engagement, Ryan, under the pretense of trying to protect her from police questioning, asks Trenna about her Luger, which she insists is back at her Hollywood apartment. At that moment, Ehrhardt calls Trenna and tells her that he knows who the killer is and will tell her in private at Germanti's Cafe. Trenna goes to the cafe, but Ehrhardt is murdered before he can tell her the killer's identity. Meanwhile, Aunt Melissa, who has decided to leave her home for the first time in many years, goes to Trenna's to settle matters with her. There, the distraught actress soon changes Melissa's opinion of her and convinces Melissa that the Luger either remains at her Hollywood home or has been stolen by her butler Rufus Parker. While detective Fred Wilcox searches Trenna's apartment and questions her, Melissa, who has found the Luger in Trenna's bureau, conceals the gun and leaves. Banking on the only lead she has to possibly vindicate Trenna, Melissa seeks out Parker, who, it is learned, last worked for the Bellwood's and is presumed dead. Having discovered that Ryan bought the Luger from Parker and killed Haworth out of jealousy over Haworth's attentions to Inez Johnson, with whom Ryan was infatuated, Melissa sets up an elaborate trap at the Merry-Go-Round in order to snare the killer. After Ryan is shot in the ensuing chase, he confesses to the murders.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Feb 15, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Shadow of Doubt by Arthur Somers Roche (New York, 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Shadow of Doubt


Having solved the mysteries of The Maltese Falcon (1931) and The Phantom of Crestwood (1932), popular pre-Code leading man Ricardo Cortez leaves the sleuthing to dowager aunt Constance Collier (making her sound film debut) in Shadow of Doubt (1935), a feature film adaptation of the Colliers serial by Arthur Somers Roche. MGM production values elevate this twisty whodunit, set against the backdrop of the Manhattan nightclub scene, whose supporting cast is rich in familiar faces. Virginia Bruce (The Invisible Woman), Arthur Byron (20,000 Years in Sing-Sing), Regis Toomey (Guys and Dolls), Samuel S. Hinds (Young Dr. Kildare), Isabel Jewell (The Seventh Victim), and future Westinghouse Electric mouthpiece Betty Furness are suspects in the murder of a shady film producer, while Paul Hurst (Island of Lost Souls), Bert Roach (Murders in the Rue Morgue), and Ed Brophy (the voice of Timothy Mouse in Disney's Dumbo) represent the forces of law and order. Director George Seitz got his start in Hollywood writing chapters for the silent serial The Perils of Pauline (1914) and capped his career helming entries of MGM's Andy Hardy franchise. Star Cortez would later inherit from Warren William the role of Erle Stanley Gardner's crusading defense attorney Perry Mason in Warner Brothers' long-running series.

By Richard Harland Smith
Shadow Of Doubt

Shadow of Doubt

Having solved the mysteries of The Maltese Falcon (1931) and The Phantom of Crestwood (1932), popular pre-Code leading man Ricardo Cortez leaves the sleuthing to dowager aunt Constance Collier (making her sound film debut) in Shadow of Doubt (1935), a feature film adaptation of the Colliers serial by Arthur Somers Roche. MGM production values elevate this twisty whodunit, set against the backdrop of the Manhattan nightclub scene, whose supporting cast is rich in familiar faces. Virginia Bruce (The Invisible Woman), Arthur Byron (20,000 Years in Sing-Sing), Regis Toomey (Guys and Dolls), Samuel S. Hinds (Young Dr. Kildare), Isabel Jewell (The Seventh Victim), and future Westinghouse Electric mouthpiece Betty Furness are suspects in the murder of a shady film producer, while Paul Hurst (Island of Lost Souls), Bert Roach (Murders in the Rue Morgue), and Ed Brophy (the voice of Timothy Mouse in Disney's Dumbo) represent the forces of law and order. Director George Seitz got his start in Hollywood writing chapters for the silent serial The Perils of Pauline (1914) and capped his career helming entries of MGM's Andy Hardy franchise. Star Cortez would later inherit from Warren William the role of Erle Stanley Gardner's crusading defense attorney Perry Mason in Warner Brothers' long-running series. By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The novel on which this film was based appeared serially in Collier's Magazine between October 13, 1934 and January 5, 1935. A Daily Variety pre-production news item listed Chuck Reisner as director. The picture marked Constance Collier's sound film debut. Daily Variety noted that M-G-M contracted Collier for "Marie Dressler-type" roles following Dressler's death. Although a Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item noted the addition of Rosalind Russell to the cast, she did not appear in the released film. Hollywood Reporter production charts indicate that actors Alice Lake and Harvey Stephens were in the cast, but their participation in the released film has not been confirmed.