Mill Creek Musings: Murder with Pictures (1936)

Kent Murdock (Lew Ayres) is a newspaper man with a reputation of pulling the rug out from under his competition and beating them to get the scoop.

His latest story is that of Nate Girard (Onslow Stevens), the suspected boss of a crime ring. Girard’s lawyer, Stanley Redfield (Ernest Cossart), has decided to throw a party for the newsmen, a less-formal version of a press conference.

(Image via jamiemoffett.com)
(Image via jamiemoffett.com)

At the party, Murdock flirts with a mysterious woman named Meg (Gail Patrick) who later shows up at his apartment begging for his help as she runs from the cops. She’s suspected of killing Redfield, who was shot as some photographers from the party were taking photos of him and Girard.

A photographer caught Redfield’s death on film, but when the photo goes missing, Murdock agrees to help Meg search for it in order to clear her name and bring justice for the real culprit.

Charles Barton (Africa Screams) directs 1936’s Murder with Pictures. This public domain film, which appears in Mill Creek’s 50 Mystery Classics set, was written for the screen by George Harmon Coxe (The Hidden Eye) and Sidney Salkow (Twice-Told Tales) from a story by Jack Moffitt (Night and Day).

Murder with Pictures is a pretty fun and fast-paced little mystery. Clocking in at about an hour and ten minutes, the film is nicely-written, with plenty of wit injected into the characters of Meg and Murdock to keep the mood light despite the murder-mystery plot.

Gail Patrick and Lew Ayres are both incredibly underrated performers. This film should be viewed if for no other reason than for a greater number of people to be introduced to their talents. They make a very good screen pair and sleuthing team, as well as giving solid individual performances.

As for the story, it’s a pretty formulaic mystery, but there are a couple of surprising moments and successful red herrings thrown into the mix. It’s no ground-breaker, but it holds the viewer’s attention successfully, and those two fabulous leads make the story a whole lot of fun to watch even in its most typical moments. The score: 3.5/5

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