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 byRobert Florey
Produced byHarold Hurley
CinematographyKarl Struss
Edited byJames Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 28, 1936 (1936-02-28)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

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.


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