Lola (Nellie Hill) is a woman with a gaggle of admirers. She’s got not one, but three men wrapped around her finger. A criminal, a musician and a journalist all vie for her attention.
But when one of Lola’s men turns up dead, she and her other beaus become suspects.
Song and dance surround the murder mystery in 1941’s appropriately titled Murder with Music, which appears in Mill Creek Entertainment’s 50 Classic Musicals box set. Mill Creek’s print of this film runs at about 57 minutes. IMDb lists the original run-time as 59 minutes.
The story that Murder with Music tells is diverting, but it leaves quite a bit to be desired. Despite the criminal title, the film doesn’t have a strong sense of mystery. I wish it did, because I love mystery-comedies and mystery-musicals. The murder actually occurs quite late in the film, and though the earlier portion isn’t completely wasted, the film would have benefited from the crime occurring much earlier.
Luckily, there’s a whole lot of wonderful music packed into the film’s short running time to make up for what the script lacks. I lost track of the musical numbers while watching, but IMDb lists nine songs. Nellie Hill’s vocals are fantastic. The “more music, less story” method is pretty common in the films that appear in this set — they were all minor releases, sometimes put together to showcase the musical talents of their stars, and sometimes created for pure, light entertainment.
One thing I did love about this film’s story is that it’s told in flashback structure. A potential boss speaks to a man who wants to become a reporter on the jazz club circuit. The interviewer warns his interviewee of the dangers of working in the clubs by telling the story of another reporter, who was one of Lola’s suitors.
There are a couple of good performances in terms of acting that keep the film afloat as well. I really enjoyed Marjorie Oliver’s performance as the secretary (she’s full of charisma) and Bob Howard’s performance as the cautionary newspaper editor.
Murder with Music is nothing stellar, but I didn’t mind watching it in the least. It isn’t one of the strongest films in the set, but it isn’t one of the weakest either. The score: 2.8/5