(director: Fred Zinnemann; screenwriters: Guy Trosper/Howard Emmett Rogers/from the book Ode of Violets by Baynard Kendrick; cinematographers: Charles Lawton, Jr./Robert Planck; editor: Ralph Winters; music: Lennie Hayton; cast: Edward Arnold (Duncan Maclain), Ann Harding (Norma Lawry), Donna Reed (Barbara Lawry), Stephen McNally (Gabriel Hoffman), Katherine Emery (Cheli Scott), Allen Jenkins (Marty), John Emery (Paul Gerente), Stanley C. Ridges (Hansen), Reginald Denny (Stephen Lawry), Rosemary De Camp (Vera Hoffman), Horace McNally (Gabriel Hoffman), Mantan Moreland (Alistair, Duncan’s servant); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Chertok; MGM; 1942)

“Passable standard whodunit wartime B-thriller with an A-team cast.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s a passable standard whodunit wartime B-thriller with an A-team cast, whose gimmick is that the hero private detective is blind. It’s based on the novel Ode of Violets by Baynard Kendrick and written by Guy Trosper and Howard Emmett Rogers, who convert a routine story into something with a bit of a snap–making it better than it should have been. Austrian-born filmmaker, Fred Zinnemann (“Kid Glove Killer”/”High Noon”/”From Here to Eternity”), early on in his career, keeps the story line tight and gets good performances considering it’s such shoddy routine material.

Duncan Maclain (Edward Arnold) is a blind but physically fit judo expert and a middle-aged blind private eye in New York City, who is assisted by his smart German shepherd seeing-eye dog Friday and the not too swift human being Marty (Allen Jenkins). Norma Lawry (Ann Harding) is an acquaintance Mac has not seen for awhile, who seeks out his advice about her willful 17-year-old stepdaughter Barbara (Donna Reed). She’s an amateur actress dating Paul Gerente (John Emery), her middle-aged leading man in the community theater play. Norma knows from experience that the self-absorbed Paul is bad for her because he was her old flame. But Barbara is convinced that Norma’s jealous and that she married her wealthy and prominent scientist father, Stephen Lawry (Reginald Denny), only for his money. Mac advises that Norma talk to Paul. When she does so, she finds him bludgeoned to death in his flat. Barbara arrives for her date with Paul, and upon seeing Norma there she assumes that her stepmother is the killer and her not wanting the police involved is further proof.

Mac gets on the case, and he believes Norma is right in not going to the police–they’ll only turn things into a media circus. When Mac and his team illegally investigate the crime scene, there’s no corpse. Mac soon uncovers there’s a Nazi spy ring that infiltrated the scientist’s house and are scheming to steal his new secret weapon formula, and he puts his detective skills on the line to save the day.

REVIEWED ON 12/22/2008 GRADE: C+   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/