Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stage Struck (1948)

** out of 5

This film begins with a slam-bang sequence that make you think for a few moments that maybe this will be better than the average Monogram noir, and for a little while it is, but there are several jarring shifts in tone (especially the music, which leaps wildly from tough, punchy stings to gently idyllic violin strains in a way that leaves the overall score sorely disjointed and unfocused),  The result is a quick collapse into an investigative drama that is unrealistically set-bound in a manner consistent with the standard of mediocrity for which Monogram achieved great renown.
It is unfortunate, as the cast contains several actors who are solid performers, and even turn in decent characterizations here.  Nagel particularly demonstrates the skills that made him so big in the silent era, with a refinement that shows he has managed to adapt well to sound over the intervening years.
This is not to say the film is a complete loss.  there are moments of genuine tension, and the resolution of the plot, if a bit forced, is satisfactory.

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