Saturday, December 21, 2013

miss pinkerton - 1932

miss pinkerton
from a story by mary roberts rinehart

in a career that spanned about a half century, mary roberts rinehart wrote a number of popular mysteries, among other things. included in her mystery output were five books that chronicled the adventures of nurse and amateur detective, hilda adams. the first of these, the buckled bag, appeared in 1914 and the last, the secret, in 1950. among the others was miss pinkerton, which was published and adapted for the big screen in 1932.

if you like your mystery with a good dose of "old dark house" mixed in for effect then be sure to add this one to your must see list. most of the action takes place at a gloomy old dump whose owner's nephew has just shot himself - or so it would seem. said owner is so distraught that a nurse (guess who?) is called in to help take care of her. she, in turn, is pressed into service by the police to help them gather evidence.

it's joan blondell, as adams, and george brent, as inspector patten, who keep things moving along here. the tone is light and upbeat, in spite of the gloomy surroundings and the grumpy old butler and cook, who spend most of the movie moping around and looking severe. the interaction between adams and patten was quite lively and i couldn't help being reminded of stuart palmer's hildegarde withers and oscar piper, another fictional/celluloid crime-solving duo from this era - though rinehart's characters are considerably younger.

as for the plot, well, it's nothing to knock your socks off, but it's passable. overall, i found it quite watchable and a great example of the light comic mystery movies that seemed to be all the rage in the thirties and forties.

this contemporary new york times reviewer though the story was a bit old-fashioned, even back then. which is a fair enough criticism. here's a decent overview of hilda adams, if you need to know more. apparently miss pinkerton was remade, for whatever reason, as the nurse's secret, just nine years later. here's the imdb entry.