Steven Kester (Claude Gillingwater) is hosting a costume party. It is time for the unmasking but the host and his granddaughter Jean Kester (Shirley Grey) cannot be found. The guests, all dressed up in their costumes, search the house. The body of Steven Kester (Claude Gillingwater) is found in his bedroom closet wearing his costume, a green eyed paper mache Chinese character mask. Kester was stabbed in the back. The police are summoned.
Inspector Crofton (John Wray) takes charge. Jean and her fiancé Cliff Miller (William Bakewell) are nowhere to be found. The cars of the guests have been disabled and the phone lines cut. Crofton orders an all points on Jean and Cliff who are off eloping. Meanwhile the party goers are sent home except for the house guests and the servants. Jean and Cliff are stopped and returned to the Kester estate. Still at the house are Michael Tracy (Charles Starrett), he writes detective stories, Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard (Stephen Chase and Dorothy Revier), Mr. Pritchard is Kester’s secretary, and Roger Hall (Arthur Clayton), an old family friend from Mexico.
Jean and her grandfather have been arguing lately. Kester doesn’t like the men she has been seeing. He wants to decide who she will marry. He cut off her allowance and was planning on changing his will before he was killed. Jean also believes that her grandfather ruined her mother’s life the same way. Jean isn’t the only one who hated Kester. Even the servants disliked him. Pritchard had been embezzling for years and Roger Hall had a hatred for Kester that began in Mexico before Jean was even born.
Even Tracy didn’t like the guy but he’s more interested in figuring out who the killer is and in harassing Inspector Crofton. The first so he can write a book about it and the second because he just likes to harass cops.
“Green Eyes” was released in 1934 and was directed by Richard Thorpe. It is a pre-code poverty row film by Chesterfield Pictures. The movie is based on the 1931 book “The Murder of Steven Kester” by Harriette Ashbrook.
This is another badly titled movie. The significance of the title “Green Eyes” is minor and not even disclosed until the end. It could easily be missed in all the other clues and red herrings. The movie itself was alright but a little confusing. There seemed to be too much misdirection and lots of lying by suspects that really didn’t need to lie. The ending was a bit of a twist but it still left me thinking I was on a merry-go-round for no reason. Even the smart mouthed detective writer tossed in a few red herrings. They were probably to just screw with the cops but they didn’t help the plot.
The main character of the film is a reoccurring character of several of Harriette Ashbrook’s novels. Her character Phillip “Spike” Tracy is the brother of New York D.A. Richard “Dick” Tracy. Yes, that Dick Tracy. In the movie Spike’s name is changed to Michael Tracy. The only reference in the movie to his brother is when Inspector Crofton asks him “which Tracy?” he is. “The Murder of Steven Kester” was Ashbrook’s second Spike Tracy novel.
The story’s main claim to fame is that there could be two possible solutions and you don’t know which one is the final choice until the end. Whereas the movie “Clue” 1985 had interesting characters, “Green Eyes” does not. I have a feeling that the book is much better than the movie.