Shadow of Doubt (1935)

Shadow of Doubt (1935)

‘Sim’ Sturdevant (Richard Cortez) and ‘Len’ Hayworth (Bradley Page) are two show businessmen competing for the same talent and women. Sim also happens to be the nephew of rich woman Melissa Pilson (Constance Collier) who never leaves her home and assumes everyone is after her money. While at home she either plays her organ or cribbage for “money” with her butler Morse (Ivan Simpson) who “owes” her $78000 after 20+ years of service. Sim is in love with an actress Aunt Pilson doesn’t know but nonetheless doesn’t approve of Trenna Plaice (‘Goldwyn Girl’ Virginia Bruce) who he’s also trying to sign to a radio contract so she can stay in New York instead of returning to her Hollywood film career. Producer Len who’s currently being seen with wealthy socialite Lisa Bellwood (Betty Furness) has already proposed to Trenna though she’s yet to answer him.

After spurning Sim’s business offer and affections Trenna allows him to hear her phone Len and accept his offer of dinner that night and marriage so Sim then leaves. However Lisa who’s in Len’s apartment also overhears the conversation and phones Trenna back saying she’ll be dining with him tonight. Later when Sim goes to the nightclub expecting to find Trenna with Len he instead sees he’s with Lisa. A society reporter friend Reed Ryan (the familiar Regis Toomey) joins Sim at his table. A slightly inebriated Len decides to start something with Sim who quickly decks him “like Max Baer”. Sim who is later congratulated by Len’s date Ms. Bellwood must then pay Reed $200 to keep this “scandal” out of the papers.

Later that same evening Trenna arrives at Len’s apartment and is allowed to wait for him alone because his butler Ehrhardt (Bernard Siegel) must go out for a while. A now fully drunk Len and Lisa arrive shortly thereafter though Trenna does not let her presence be known. The next scene we see is one of Len lying back on his couch clutching a bottle of champagne with a bloody bullet hole in his chest … he’s been murdered!

Sim is awakened in the middle of the night by Reed who informs him of Len’s murder and suggests that the police are probably on their way to his house right now. Sim asks Reed to call his lawyer (the recognizable Samuel Hinds) and to tell him to be prepared to represent Trenna too if she needs it. Sure enough Lieutenant Wilcox (Edward Brophy) and another officer arrive and take Sim to Trenna’s apartment where another Lieutenant Sackville (Paul Hurst) has been questioning her. Reed and a couple of other members of the press are there as well. When Sackville begins to try to bully Sim into answering some questions knowing his rights he refuses. Right on time Sim’s lawyer shows up and Sackville prompted by Wilcox decides to leave.

The next day after a visit from Sim Ms. Pilson decides it’s up to her to solve the case. So she decides to leave her home for the first time in decades in order to pay a visit to Trenna whom she’s convinced is the guilty party. After a while however when convinced that Trenna really does love her nephew Sim Ms. Pilson is convinced of her innocence even though there is evidence to the contrary. The plot gets rather convoluted (and unbelievable) at this point though there are some funny scenes stolen by Collier (Pilson) reminiscent of Edna May Oliver which make one’s viewing of this short 74 minute film worth the time it takes.

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