Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Destination Murder

TCM is showing a bunch of crime films made in 1950 tomorrow morning and afternoon. Most of them are decidedly B movies, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. As an example of how that's not bad, you can watch the interesting movie that opens the day's proceedings, Destination Murder, at 6:00 AM.

The basic plot is simple, but the way it unfolds is rather complex with a bunch of twists and turns. The movie starts off with a bang, almost literally. Jackie Wales (Stanley Clements) is at a movie with his girlfriend. During the intermission, he gets up, presumably to go to the restroom or the concession stand. In fact, he's picked up by a boss of sorts named Armitage (Albert Dekker). Armitage drives Jackie to a house where Jackie, having changed into a uniform worn by telegram delivery boys, rings the doorbell and shoots Mansfield, who answers! It's the perfect crime, except for one thing: during the getaway Mansfield's daughter Laura (Joyce Mackenzie) shows up having returned from boarding school or something. She sees Jackie, and can even identify him from a police lineup, but... nothing else happens!

What's a woman to do? Why, this woman decides that a little ingenuity might be a good thing. She strikes up a relationship with Jackie, who is apparently more than willing enough to dump the girlfriend he had at the movie theater in favor of Laura. Laura eventually learns that Jackie has some dealings at Armitage's nightclub, so Laura goes to the club along, looking for a job! Of course, her real reason is so she can get inside and try to get some inside information on what's going on with Jackie and Amritage so that she can get the people responsible for her father's death. After all, Jackie only pulled the trigger; certainly somebody ordered the hit.

What follows is a twisty plot with blackmail; a double-dealing moll (Myrna Dell); a vicious, scheming assistant (Hurd Hatfield); torture set to classical music; and some plot turns that you you should probably expect to exist because of the genre of film, but the specifics of which you may not see coming. The ending is one that conforms to the Production Code, so you know the bad guys are going to get theirs. And since we know from the beginning who the bad guys are, there's a bit less suspense than there otherwise might be. Overall, though, Destination Murder is a fun little B movie that entertains just fine, even if afterwards it may blend in with all the other B crime movies from the era.

Destination Murder has received a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive collection.

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