The Preview Murder Mystery
The Preview Murder Mystery is a 1936 American mystery-comedy, directed by Robert Florey and shot in the Paramount studio. The plot follows a studio public relations man who attempts to trap a killer using television technology, allowing on-screen glimpses of technicians like Florey's cinematographer Karl Struss.
|The Preview Murder Mystery|
|Directed by||Robert Florey|
|Produced by||Harold Hurley|
|Edited by||James Smith|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Reginald Denny plays the suave head of PR for a movie studio, a role more often given to brassy actors such as Lionel Stander. He is a devoted fan of a mysterious actor who developed a cult following during the silent era. It is widely believed that it is a tragedy that he died before sound movies became the standard and there are people who see the idea of remaking his films as sound productions as bordering on sacrilege. From his description, this actor reflected elements of Rudolph Valentino and Lon Chaney, Sr.; he was an exotically handsome leading man and a master of disguise who appeared in many intense, weird roles.
When an attempt is made to remake one of his starring vehicles as a musical, the effort seems cursed, with many accidents happening inexplicably. In time it becomes apparent that a murderer is lurking in the studio, possibly in the fashion of The Phantom of the Opera, and police quarantine the studio. Executives decide that work should continue on films as the night wears on. Denny and a technician hide in a sound editing room and eavesdrop on productions. There is an "iris out" effect whenever they tune in to a soundstage and the audience sees the films being shot. One is a horror film about a mysterious caped character called "The Batman".
The film is noteworthy in that numerous suspects with credible motives are developed in the course of the story despite its short running time.
- Reginald Denny as Johnny Morgan
- Frances Drake as Peggy Madison
- Gail Patrick as Claire Woodward Smith
- George Barbier as Jerome Hewitt
- Ian Keith as E. Gordon Smith
- Rod La Rocque as Neil DuBeck/Joe Walker
- Conway Tearle as Edwin Strange
- Jack Raymond as George Tyson
- Colin Tapley as Studio Manager
- Jack Mulhall as Jack Rawlins
- Bryant Washburn as Carl Jennings
- Franklyn Farnum as James Daley
- Lee Shumway as Chief of Police
- Spencer Charters as Watchman Jones