Saturday, May 5, 2012
Joyce in Murder with Pictures (1936)
Joyce Compton's career in the mid- to late-1930s seemed to alternate between leads in poverty row productions and supporting parts in b-movies from the big studios (With a few bit parts thrown in. Why? Only Joyce herself could tell you.) Among the big studio efforts she appeared in was 1936's Murder with Pictures, a cliché-ridden comedy/mystery from Paramount starring a too-smirky Lew Ayres (above left) as a newspaper photographer who enjoys outpacing the police on various hot cases. He winds up becoming part of the story he’s covering when an alluring mystery lady (Gail Patrick, below left) enters his apartment seeking shelter from the pursuing authorities. The woman is a murder suspect, wrongly accused and desperate to clear her name. Ayres winds up helping her AND coming up with the incriminating photograph that proves who the real killer is. A rather silly, slight film that (at the very least) moves along at a brisk pace and has a glossy production unusual for a b-picture. The plot gets needlessly complex and Ayres is more annoying than good - but raven-haired Patrick is a knockout. So is Joyce, for that matter. She’s got a fairly decent-sized role here as Ayres’ jealous fiancee, looking swanky in fur-lined ensembles designed by Edith Head.
Murder With Pictures has slipped into the public domain and is commonly available to watch online (such as at Archive.org) although the print leaves something to be desired. The version that I saw is included on the Mystery Classics 50 Movie Pack DVD collection released by Treeline/Mill Creek Entertainment in 2009.