Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ellery Queen is on the case
in a fast-paced who-dunnit

The Mandarin Mystery (1936)
Starring: Eddie Quillan, Wade Boteler, Charlotte Henry and George Irving
Director: Ralph Staub
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Ellery Queen (Quillan), a young amateur detective and magazine publisher sets out to help his police inspector father (Boteler) solve the mystery of a valuable stamp that is stolen as its impoverished owner (Henry) is about to sell it to a wealthy collector (Irving). However, when the thief is found shot to death in a room that is locked from the inside, the mystery quickly expands and convolutes in deadly ways.

"The Mandarin Mystery" is a fast-paced, locked-room murder mystery that's light in tone and rich on witty banter. While the murder mystery is interesting, the best parts of the film are those dealing with the friendly rivalry between the elder and younger Queens, and the constant flirtations and banter between the young lead and the beautiful crime victim whose skirts he devotes more effort to chasing than to solving the mystery.

This is a charming little film with a decent cast. It's not a masterpiece, but it's not a bad way to spend an hour if you enjoy lighthearted mysteries.

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