Midnight Manhunt (1945)

Midnight_Manhunt_(1945)‘A Weird, Whacky “Who-dun-it” in a Wax Museum!’

A missing gangster returns to the U.S. with a fortune in stolen gems. Unfortunately, the first visitor to his hotel room is George Zucco.

This is a very derivative, little crime thriller, no more than a ragbag of tired ideas and clichés thrown together without much care or attention. To begin with our hero and heroine are feuding newspaper journos with a romantic history. Unfortunately, they are no Nick and Nora Charles. William Gargan is the wise cracking big shot star reporter, Ann Savage the girl sidelined to the society pages and longing for a real story. They fight and bicker but obviously belong together. This is fine, if predictable, only there’s no real chemistry between them and the interplay and dialogue comes straight out of Screenwriting 101.

The Savage character lives above the local wax museum(!) run by old fussbudget Charlie Halton and smart alec Leo Gorcey, regurgitating the same comedy schtick he’d been peddling for years as one of the East Side Kids. The gangster turns up croaked but without the jewels and Savage discovers him on the stairs. She moves the body into one of the museum exhibits to make sure she gets an ‘exclusive’ (really!?) but it’s hijacked again after Halton and Gorcey stumble across it. They hide it in a boxcar at the freight yards (as you obviously would). Zucco hangs around a bit and threatens people. The local forces of law and order are as bewildered and lost as usual.

'Tell my agent to find me some better projects or else!'

‘Tell my agent to find me some better projects or else!’

Plot and credibility are stretched so thin at times as to approach breaking point and the wax museum setting is completely wasted. Performances are professional, if uninspired, and Gorcey’s clowning is rather wearing. Zucco is given little to work with and what little action there is confined to one fist fight and some minor gunplay. The final resolution is simple and predictable. It’s exactly what you’ve been expecting after the lack of invention and ideas that have gone before.

It’s hard to imagine a more standard programmer than this; a bland 60 minute b-movie crime thriller with very few points of interest.

Zucco deserved better!

Buy ‘Midnight Manhunt’ here

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