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HOLLYWOOD MYSTERY (aka: HOLLYWOOD HOODLUM) (director: B. Reeves “Breezy” Eason; screenwriters: John T. Neville/story by William Bloecher; cinematographer: Ernest Miller; editor: Jeanne Spencer; cast: June Clyde (Doris Dawn), Frank Albertson (Daniel Patrick Ryan aka Dan), José Crespo (Tony Capello), Tenen Holtz (Benjamin Vogel), John Davidson (Sigfried Sonoff), Stanley Price (Joe Romano); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; Alpha; 1934)
“This poverty-row thriller is so dumb you swear Ed Wood Jr. created it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This poverty-row thriller is so dumb you swear Ed Wood Jr. created it. B. Reeves “Breezy” Eason (“Heart Punch”/”Revenge at Monte Carlo”/”Sergeant Murphy”), who is actually more of a hack than Wood, directs as if he stepped into a bucket of manure. This quickie releases its hokum story in a short 54 minutes and the story climaxes before we can get too excited about its gimmicky plot. It’s scripted by John T. Neville from a story by William Bloecher.

Frank Albertson stars as the cocky fast-talking Dan Ryan, the PR man for a Poverty Row studio called Supreme Pictures that’s headed by the nervous money-grubbing sleaze Benny Vogel (Tenen Holtz). To save his job Dan cooks up a dangerous scheme for the studios next release, a gangster film called The Racketeer that will supposedly star a real-life gangster. Foreign director Sigfried Sonoff (John Davidson), a pretentious artiste, likes the idea thinking it will give the film the realism he demands. Dan takes the director and his actress girlfriend Doris Dawn (June Clyde) to a roadhouse inn, a spot where gangsters hangout, in order to sign a real gangster to a contract. The real gangster chosen is actually an unknown, out-of-work, hammy actor named Tony Capello (José Crespo), who fakes being a gangster to impress the director. In a staged fight, he mistakes a real gangster, tough mob boss Joe Romano (Stanley Price), for the actor he was supposed to deck, and breaks the mobster’s jaw with a punch. The revenge-driven Romano takes Capello and leading lady Dawn hostage, and it’s up to the harebrained but quick thinking Dan to rescue them.

Its attempt at comedy was futile. Its attempt to tell a lucid story was even more futile. Its attempt at acting was the most futile thing of all about the film. The only mystery is how could such a sloppy amateur production, a film that would most likely be rejected by any film school, get released as a Hollywood film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”