Monday, July 4, 2016

The Rogues' Tavern, A Deadly Night

A gang of ruthless jewel thieves? A mad scientist? An oddball fortune teller? A suspicious invalid? A wild animal? Which one is the killer?  Or perhaps the fiend's identity is a bit more ominous. From 1936, "The Rogues' Tavern."  This 70 minute gem may best be described as a no frills Agatha Christie type mystery.  With lots of quick wit and very politically incorrect exchanges, this film is not only a fast-paced mystery, but lots of fun to view.
Jimmy (Wallace Ford) and his beautiful fiance, Marjorie (Barbara Pepper) arrive at the Red Rock Tavern believing a Justice of the Peace is there who can marry them.  He's not.  In attendance at this quaint inn, on a very dark and very stormy night are some very suspicious individuals.  By the way, Jimmy is a police detective and his bride-to-be is department store detective.  Perfect, because in no time at all, the murders begin.  Two schmucks have their throats ripped out by a wild animal...or so it appears.  Gloria (Joan Woodbury) tells fortunes with her deck of cards and she keeps drawing the Ace of Spades (death card).  Suspects?  A dog, of course, and a bunch of peeps that look like they are due back for questioning.
Why is everyone at this inn?  Most of the guests were summoned by letter by a chap named Wentworth (Arthur Loft). When Wentworth arrives we learn that he has no knowledge of those letters.  Uh oh again....more murders.  Our detective tandem is smart.  Jimmy figures out the dog is innocent, and Marjorie learns more about the guests....and the seemingly sweet proprietors.  As the storm continues to rage, the doors and windows of the place all escape.  Oh yes, a weird scientist peers in at them as a little boy spies on his ant farm.  When the jewel thieves realize Jimmy is a detective, he and Marjorie now must survive a murderer and a bunch of thugs who don't want to go back to prison.
Who is the killer?  Why are these peeps being offed?  Will Marjorie and Jimmy ever find their Justice of the Peace and begin their life as husband and wife?  The dialog is risque for 1936, and at one point Marjorie utters, "I feel so poetic, I could make love to a snowman."  I'm not sure what that means, but it reminds me of one of my favorite lines when Jason Statham, after receiving a fruity drink with lots of garnishing, says "You could make love to an orangutan in this." Available on YouTube, directed by Robert F. Hill, this is one that still entertains 80 years later.  

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