MURDER IS MY BEAT(director: Edgar Ulmer; screenwriters: story by Martin Field/Aubrey Wisberg; cinematographer: Harold E. Wellman; editor: Fred R. Feitshans Jr.; music: Albert Glasser; cast: Paul Langton (Ray Patrick), Barbara Payton (Eden Lane), Robert Shayne (Bert Rawley), Roy Gordon (Abbott), Tracey Roberts (Patsy Flint), Selena Royle (Mrs. Abbott); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Aubrey Wisberg; Warner Bros.; 1955)
“Packs some punch.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A low-budget film noir directed with skill by Edgar Ulmer (“The Black Cat”). It’s inspired from a story by Martin Field and scripted by Aubrey Wisberg. Its slight narrative is enhanced by the edgy performance of Barbara Payton, who never tips her hand if she’s guilty or innocent as she remains an ambiguous figure.
The body of a Mr. Frank Deane is found with his head in the fireplace, his features burned beyond recognition. Homicide detective Ray Patrick (Langton) and his superior officer Bert Rawley (Shayne) are assigned to the brutal murder. They soon arrest a nightclub singer, Eden Lane (Barbara Payton), for the crime, and she is convicted.
On the way to prison, Eden sees a man through the train window, identifying him as the Deane she was convicted of murdering. This causes Patrick and Eden to jump from the train to search for the man. Days pass while they futilely search. But Patrick finds Patsy Flint (Roberts), Eden’s old roommate registered under a phony name at a hotel. Things take a twisty turn when Patrick returns to his motel and discovers his now lover Eden gone and his partner Rawley waiting to arrest him. Patrick pleads for 24 more hours to clear his name, and Rawley agrees. In a series of continuing plot twists involving another dead body and the locating of a plant owner named Abbott (Gordon), who we learn was Eden’s jealous boyfriend, the real murderer is found.
Ulmer uses flashbacks and elliptical editing to set the suspenseful mood and weaves a noir environment of chaos and unsettling mis-en-scenes, using Payton’s convincing performance as femme fatale and Langton’s uncertainty of her guilt to bring about a chilling tension.
Though not as powerful as Ulmer’s sparkling Detour, Murder Is My Beat packs some punch.
REVIEWED ON 6/3/2004 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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