Reporter Michael Denis (George Murphy) is packing for a trip to Paris. He and his dog Jones (Corky) are going on vacation. A last minute walk with the dog ends up at the local pub. Bill (Eddie Quillan) is waiting outside for his girlfriend Bessie (Virginia Field). When Michael tells Bessie that Bill is waiting she rushes outside.
Bill and Bessie are sitting on a bench in the fog in front of the shop Bill works at. They hear Bill’s boss, Casey, inside having an argument with another man. Suddenly a man wearing a black overcoat and with an open black umbrella comes out of the shop and hurries away. Thinking something is wrong they call a patrolman to break down the door. No one is in the shop. Inspector Jefferson (George Zucco), from Scotland Yard is called.
Michael, being intent on his vacation, leaves it to Scotland Yard to investigate. As he is walking away he sees a man with a black overcoat and an umbrella sneak into a first floor window of the residence of Sir Arthur Herrick (Montagu Love). Following him in, Michael tackles the man, which rouses a couple servants and Sir Arthur’s daughter Patricia (Rita Johnson). It turns out the man is a servant who forgot his key and didn’t have permission to leave the house so he tried to sneak in. Patricia recognizes the reporter. They end up in a conversation about the man with the umbrella as well as doing some flirting. Being a rather bored socialite Patricia wants to help Michael investigate.
Michael is still intent on his vacation until he receives a threatening note written in red chalk telling him to stay out of the investigation. Patricia is still eager to help Michael. Michael tries to get Patricia to go away believing that if she continues to hang around him she could be in danger. After a constable is murdered and another man goes missing, danger seems to find them. Then Bessie is killed by the Umbrella Man and Sir Arthur receives an extortion note threatening to hurt Patricia if he doesn’t cough up 10,000 pounds.
“London by Night” was released in 1937 and was directed by Wilhelm Thiele. It is based on Will Scott's play, "The Umbrella". As far as I know the play was never published and never performed. It is one of MGM’s “B” movies. Although it is set in London the movie was made on the MGM back lot.
The film is a mystery with a light comic air to it. It’s only 68 minutes long so it’s fast paced. It’s not an “A” film but a filler for the bottom half of a double feature. It’s an MGM style RKO or Monogram type picture. It was pretty decent. I enjoyed it.
The rapport between Michael Denis’ and Patricia Herrick’s characters is witty and snappy. George Zucco plays a good guy so that’s a treat. Leo G. Carroll does well. The dog that plays Jones is probably most people’s favorite actor anyway.
Virginia Field plays Bessie, the well meaning, fly headed, barmaid. She’s addicted to penny dreadfuls and finds killers in every corner. This is different from what I normally see her play. She’s an over the top comic relief so you either love her or hate her. What saved her character for me was that she was cute so I let slide my normal feelings about comic relief characters. The film seemed to have more of them than murders anyway.
George Murphy was elected to the U.S. senate in 1965. He was the California senator from 1965 to 1971.