Grand Central Murder (1942)

grand_central_murder Grand Central Murder (1942)

Run time: Approved | 73 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Writers: Peter Ruric, Sue MacVeigh
Stars: Van Heflin, Patricia Dane, Cecilia Parker
Tagline: Screamingly funny! Screamingly thrilling!
Storyline
Who killed show girl Mida King (Patricia Dane) in a private railway car in New York’s Grand Central Station.  “A slick fast-moving whodunit.”
Fun Facts
1. 
Donna Reed, Reginald Owen, Gertrude Short, ‘Dick Rich’ and Gayne Whitman were originally cast, but none of these actors appeared in the film.

4 Comments

  1. tfsadmin

    March 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

    When a not so sympathetic victim (Patricia Dane) is murdered in a private side car at Grand Central Station, detective Van Heflin and a crusty inspector (Sam Levene) join forces to solve the case. A neat little mystery yarn, this was an above average B-picture from MGM that gave us an early glimpse of Van Heflin, a young actor who was certainly blessed with enormous talent. Virginia Grey, Stephen McNally, Samuel S. Hinds, Connie Gilchrist, Tom Conway and Millard Mitchell are fine in supporting roles and the ending comes as a satisfying, if not probable, conclusion.

    This is the sort of film that played the lower half of a double bill when released in 1942, but even then it was praised as an above average thriller. It moves at a swift pace and is guaranteed to hold your interest.

  2. tfsadmin

    March 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Van Heflin in an early starring role is a private detective with a gorgeous assistant who happens to be his spouse. A gold-digging actress who ran through men as fast as the hapless detective inspector gulps one bottle of "pop" after the other is found dead in a private railway car in Grand Central Station (usually known as Grand Central Terminal).

    Many movies have been set in or feature New York’s beautiful rail station. In this wartime film, a studio set substituted for the very busy and vital rail center. The sets aren’t too convincing – this film was done on a small budget but so what?

    Murder is usually serious but the antics of the inspector and his lackluster squad as they try to figure out whodunit make this film, with some sprightly dialogue and good character roles, very humorous. This is a real 1930s-40s view of police as folks who can’t find a murderer on a bet (which is also part of this story) without the aid of an outsider, here the indefatigable and comedic "Custer," Van Heflin.

    A short film running less than an hour and a half, "Grand Central Murder" is a good party movie. Van Heflin shows the acting ability that led to his appearances in far more serious films.

  3. IMDBReviewer

    March 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Not a bad murder mystery with an interesting slant, gathering the usual suspects together in one place to flush out the guilty one takes place at the beginning of the film rather than at the end as would normally be the case. This enables the story to unfold in flashback fashion as told by each of the suspects. Van Heflin shines in one of his early roles. He seems a bit brash in places but otherwise is excellent. Patricia Dane in one of her few cinema appearances does well as the nasty gold digger who is murdered. Sam Levene made good money playing the dumb police inspector in several films of the period including two Thin Man’s. So he knew his part by heart. And it’s good to see veteran actor Millard Mitchell in one of his early roles.

    When I first watched "Grand Central Murder," I reasoned it was taken from a play because that is how it runs. There are a few action scenes involving trains, especially at the end, but otherwise it could all have taken place on stage. This makes the movie very talkative and is a major weakness. I was surprised to see that the screenplay was adapted from a novel by Sue MacVeigh. So director S. Sylvan Simon must be to blame. The script is well-written with many witty lines. Not a bad way to spend 73 minutes.

  4. tfsadmin

    March 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Excellent 1940’s era comedy/who-done-it played out as a series of flashbacks in response to the detective’s questions. Good dialog is complemented by unusual use of lights and interesting shots of characters in and amongst trains. Everyone had a motive, most everyone the opportunity, but only the private detective knows how murder was committed. The killer is trapped into revealing him/herself.

    Unusual casting. Van Heflin and Virginia Grey appear to be playing Nick and Nora Charles – she only gets one good set of lines and he is nowhere as dapper as William Powell. Connie Gilchrist is excellent as the maid. Tom Conway is miscast but casting of police is excellent. No wasted time in this tight mystery. Highly recommended.

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