Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where is Jane Doe?

RKO never had the sheen that MGM had. In its last years, as I mentioned recently, the studio was putting out "Screenliner" shorts that looked low-budget compared to what the other studios had been doing a decade or more earlier. While MGM had been running the Crime Does Not Pay series in the 1930s and 1040s, RKO's attempt, Where Is Jane Doe, comes up well short in comparison. You can see for yourself at 1:45 PM this afternoon on TCM.

The short starts off with police finding clothes suitable for a young woman on a bridge and looking for that young woman. Did she jump off the bridge? Wsa she kidnapped? Or is she trying not to be found? Oh, the answers to those questions will come quickly enough. Unlike the Crime Does Not Pay shorts, Where is Jane Doe? is only a one-reeler, so the police have to crack the case more quickly. Apparently, the girl had an interest in modeling that her parents didn't know much about, but the girl was much too homely to succeed as a model. So the girl, despondent, jumped off the bridge. It's obvious. Well, maybe not so obvious, although this short would have been much more shocking if it ended with them fishing her body out of the river and a close-up shot of the bloated, drowned body. (Alternatively, she could have jumped off the Empire State Building.)

Sadly, the resolution of the case is rather more prosaic. And it's all presented in a way that makes the cops seem so wonderful and dedicated and virtuous and flawless. So at least Where Is Jane Doe? is interesting enough to generate a few laughs, even if they were not intended by the people making this short.

No comments: