Lloyd Nolan and Marjorie Weaver in Just Off Broadway (1942)


(director: Herbert I. Leeds; screenwriters: based on the idea of Jo Eisenger/ based on the character created by Brett Halliday/Arnaud D’Usseau; cinematographer: Lucien Andriot; editor: Louis Loeffler; music: Leo Robin; cast: Lloyd Nolan (Michael Shayne), Marjorie Weaver(Judy Taylor), Janis Carter (Lillian Hubbard), Alexander Lockwood(Count Edmond Telmachio), Joan Valeri (Rita Darling ), Don Costello (George Dolphin), Richard Derr (John Logan), Grant Richards (DA), Ken Christy (Sheriff), Leland Hodgson (Randolph), William Haade (Nightwatchman), Tim Ryan (Chinatown tour guide), Oscar O’Shea (Pop), Chester Clute (Sperty); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating:NR producer: Sol M. Wurtzel; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1942-B/W)

It’s a breezy crime programmer that’s efficiently made and acceptably acted.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This on-going Shayne private eye comedy-crime series from Fox was its seventh and penultimate one. Director Herbert I. Leeds (“The Cisco Kid and The Lady”/”Mr. Moto in Danger Island”) keeps it fast moving and more comical than tense. Writer Arnaud D’Usseau keeps the plot implausible but fun. It’s based on an idea by Jo Eisenger.

At a NYC murder trial, where the jury has been sequestered for 2 weeks, Michael Shayne (Lloyd Nolan) is the wise guy private detective on jury duty who believes the accused Lillian Hubbard (Janis Carter) did not kill her womanizer fiancee Harley Forsythe and that the key witness, a club singer named Rita Darling (Joan Valeri), is lying. When a butler (Leland Hodgson) witness who can clear things up is killed with a knife thrown by a professional knife thrower (Alexander Lockwood) while giving testimony, Shayne smells a rat and flees from the locked hotel jury room that night and teams with a young newspaper reporter, Judy Taylor (Marjorie Weaver), to track down the killer or killers. When the trial continues the next day Shayne is allowed to take over the trial by cross-examining the defense attorney (Richard Derr), who is secretly in love with his client from their childhood days.Among the suspects left, after the knife thrower is killed, are the sexy nightclub singer Rita Darling, the gruff owner of the club where she works George Dolphin (Don Costello), and the secretive defense attorney.

For added comedy Phil Silvers pops up as a hustling freelance photographer who gets in Shayne’s way.

It’s a breezy crime programmer that’s efficiently made and acceptably acted.


REVIEWED ON 6/18/2018 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/