Sunday, March 4, 2018

'The Perfect Clue' is flawed

The Perfect Clue (1935)
Starring: Dorothy Libaire, David Manners, and Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher
Director: Robert G. Vignola
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A rebellious rich girl (Libaire) and a hard-luck ex-con (Manners) must rely on the help of her besotted friend (Gallager) when they are falsely accused and arrested for murder.

"The Perfect Clue" is a film with no clue about what it wants to be. It lurches back and forth from being a screwball comedy, to being a melodrama, to being a romantic comedy, to being a crime drama. To make matters worse, what's presented is a fair to awful example of those genres, and when it's at its best--in crime drama mode--it feels at times like we're watching scenes from an entirely different movie.

The acting ranges from standard for a film of this period and budget-level, to quite good. With the exception of one scene that feels like it was being performed for the stage, Libaire is excellent throughout. I've never been a big fan of Manners, but he is worse here than I've ever seen him; not only is he playing a fairly unpleasant character, but he's doing so with a manner that makes me wonder if he wanted to be anywhere but working on this picture. 

While Libaire and Gallagher elevate the film with their performances, everything else about it drags it down... and the Four-star rating I am giving it is on the brink of slipping to a Three.

By a curious coincidence, Libaire and Manners, who had been extremely busy and appeared in a number of successful films during the early 1930s, were at the end of their careers by the time the co-starred in "The Perfect Clue".  Libaire would only make two more films, Manning five more. 

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