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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The White Cockatoo (1935)

In a rather shabby hotel off the coast of France, a young girl (pretty Jean Muir) awaits a visit from her brother in New York. But there's something strange and ominous about the hotel's occupants and staff so it's not surprising when several murders occur. This whodunit should be more fun than it is. It has all the necessary trappings: a large sinister hotel with locked doors and secret rooms, constant howling winds, lights going out at inopportune moments, plenty of suspects etc. but it lacks wit. If only Nick and Nora Charles had popped in, it would have helped immeasurably. Instead we get a rather unappealing Ricardo Cortez as an American visitor to unravel the mystery. The actors overdo it, they all act guilty and when one character says something, we get reaction shots of the other characters darting their eyes! Still, I'm a chump for these 1930s B&W murder mysteries so I gave it plenty of slack, others may not be so charitable. Directed by Alan Crosland (THE JAZZ SINGER). With Ruth Donnelly, Minna Gombell, John Eldredge, Walter Kingsford, Addison Richards and, of course, the white cockatoo of the title who gives the best performance in the film.

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