Suave, lip-reading DA Thatcher Colt plans to get away from the big city for a while. So he and his secretary, Miss Kelly hop on a train for an Upstate NY town called Gilead. They expect a ...
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Suave, lip-reading DA Thatcher Colt plans to get away from the big city for a while. So he and his secretary, Miss Kelly hop on a train for an Upstate NY town called Gilead. They expect a calm oasis, but when a small time circus rolls into town they soon find themselves caught up in a sordid tale of marital infidelity, murder, cruelty to animals, and cannibalism.Written by
Cameron Majidi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1933's "The Circus Queen Murder" was Columbia's second adaptation of an Anthony Abbot Thatcher Colt novel, in this case 1932's "About the Murder of the Circus Queen," a followup to the previous year's "The Night Club Lady." Back as the lip reading Colt is Adolphe Menjou, happily teamed again with gorgeous Ruthelma Stevens as faithful secretary Miss Kelly, as savvy and sassy as ever. This time around, there's precious little mystery, with Colt taken out of his native New York City milieu, watching over suspicious activities in a traveling circus far from home. It does evoke Tod Browning's "Freaks," with such pre-code details as cannibalism adding to the doom laden atmosphere, not really a mystery as defined in the title, the circus queen only meeting her fate in the final reel. Fortunately, we have Dwight Frye's Flandrin commanding attention, and in a larger role than usual he's definitely in rare form, better in dangerous mode than his bland hero from 1935's "The Crime of Doctor Crespi." Both Thatcher Colt features have remained stubbornly elusive over the years, while one of Columbia's four picture Steve Trent series has suffered the indignity of actually disappearing without any trace. There would be one revival for Colt, in 1942's "The Panther's Claw," casting dependable Sidney Blackmer as Colt, his fate on screen ending just like his inspiration Philo Vance, at Poverty Row's PRC.
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