Sunday, November 24, 2013

the unguarded hour - 1936

the unguarded hour
from a play by ladislas fodor

the deardens - lady helen and sir alan - are throwing a party one night for a host of well-heeled guests when, unbeknownst to them, someone crashes the party. he makes his way to lady dearden and proceeds to blackmail her over some past indiscretions her husband was involved in. given that sir alan is about to move up in the world from his position as a successful barrister to attorney general, lady dearden figures it's best to capitulate.

however she later finds that a man is being tried for killing his wife and that something she saw on the day when she dropped off the blackmail money could clear his name. but she can't come forward without sullying her husband's name. coincidentally (perhaps a bit too much), her husband is the prosecuting attorney trying this case.

and it gets even more muddled from there, with one thing leading to another and sir alan himself being charged with another crime. which is about all i can give away about this one, except to say that, given the small circle of characters, it's no great shakes to figure out who the real culprit is.

but it's a somewhat entertaining piece of work nonetheless, with strong performances from loretta young and franchot tone as the deardens and some mild comic relief from roland young, as their wisecracking friend, bunny. no great shakes as a whodunit but worth a look even so. trivia fans should note that henry daniell, who plays the bad egg here, later went on to play moriarty in the woman in green, one of the basil rathbone sherlock holmes films. director sam wood also did the honors for the marx brothers in a night at the opera and a day at the races.