“You’re in no position to be dicking around like this. You’re in trouble.”
Elizabeth Hawthorn (Natalie Moorhead) goes to see Detective Chief Henry Barton (Conway Tearle). Barton is in love with Beth but she is in love with Van Kempen (Robert Frazer). Van Kempen, on the other hand, is messing around with Miriam King (Dorothy Revier). Miriam King is a gold-digger.
There is a list of people that she is messing around with. She has made a career of it. Her MO is to seduce men and get them pay her expenses and then to propose to her. When they come to their senses she blackmails them by threatening to sue them for breach of promise. The ones that are already married she just blackmails.
Of course someone manages to put the squeeze on her. Phillip Scott (Maurice Black) needs $5000. He goes to Miriam for the money. She doesn’t have it. He threatens her. She tries to get it from Van Kempen. Being a chump as well as a louse he just laughs at her and pats her on the head.
It’s not surprising that Miriam is found dead. The method of murder is poison. Given her shady way of making a living there is a list of potential suspects. Figuring it all out is Detective Barton’s problem. Tagging along on his investigation is Miriam’s most recent lover Van.
Barton gets to find the person who killed his rival’s lover. It’s a little convoluted but Barton does his job and is civil to both his rival and the woman who spurned him so she could pine away waiting for Van. In my opinion Elizabeth is an idiot.
“The King Murder” was released in 1932 and was directed by Richard Thorpe. This is a poverty row pre-code movie produced by Chesterfield Motion Picture Company.
The movie was done while talkies were still feeling their way. Because of this I’m going to give the movie some slack. The acting is wooden and you can see the actors looking off screen to read their lines. I am going to attribute some of that to some of the actors trying to get use to having more lines than will fit on a title card.
I wasn’t surprised at who the murderer was, just at the method of murder. Granted the method was outdated but it managed to smack me in the head.
Despite its flaws the movie was interesting enough. Not great, but as long as you can find a copy that isn’t too old you can follow along. This is an oldie and finding a print that is in good shape may be a little hard. It’s obscure enough to not have gotten much in the way of upgrades. If you’re looking for it, try to stay away from Alpha Video and Mill Creek.
The movie is supposedly based on a true story. The unsolved 1923 murder of Dorothy King. King was either a model, a showgirl and/or a nightclub hostess and is believed to also have been a blackmailer. Similar to the character in the film, Dorothy “Dot” King was both a blackmailer and was being blackmailed. She is also reported to have been having affairs with at least two rich men, both married. There are a couple other films that were inspired by the murder “The Canary Murder Case (1929) and “The Naked City” (1948).