Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Death from a Distance (1935)

A prominent astronomer Professor Einfeld (Lee Kohlmar) is giving a lecture in a planetarium, while everyone's gaze is on the heavens a shot rings out. One of the audience has been killed.

Detective Mallory (Russell Hopton) is on the case and begins the investigations, reporter Key Palmer (Lola Lane) was present at the show and is keen to stay on the inside though her relationship with Mallory is rather fractious (though obviously they will get together in the end).

Despite the planetarium being sealed immediately and thus the murderer being one of the audience members the case is baffling and Mallory has to rely on a number of tricks to solve the crime. It is a decent but not startling film with the usual cliches including the dopey assistant detective (Lew Kelly) and various red herrings. Despite the low budget the film looks good, the observatory setting is the best part of the film. The dialogue is pretty snappy, the two leads giving good performances. Apparently this was the first ever film broadcast on US TV in 1941.