“Women are not expert enough to do a job of that kind. They kill rather crudely.”

James Sullivan (Jim Farley) is the new chief of police for a corrupt police department. He makes changes in an effort to clean up crime in the city. Some of the police officers are not happy with the changes he has made. Actually a lot of them hate the chief.

Lt. Dan Burke (Lloyd Hughes) is engaged to the chief’s daughter Diana (Claudia Dell). A bank robbery sends Burke and half the force out to nab the crooks. The car carrying the suspects goes over a cliff and the three men in the car are killed. One of the robbers turns out to be Dan’s half brother. The chief is not happy to have a son-in-law who has a criminal for a brother, half or not. At first Diana has concerns about Dan not telling her right away but after talking it out with Professor David Graham (Reginald Denny) she realizes that she is in love with Dan and wants to marry him anyway. Sullivan is still opposed to the marriage.

Professor Graham is a famed criminologist who has been brought in to conduct a lecture to the officers in the squad. He is also considered a friend of the family and was also interested in Diana. Add to the mix Sullivan’s secretary Kathleen Ryan (Barbara Bedford) is in love with her boss. The chief insists that everything is above board but Kathleen’s mother Mary doesn’t believe it. She threatens Sullivan if he does not marry her daughter.

Graham’s lecture is on the identification of criminals and their crimes. The lights are out and the entire squad along with Diana and Kathleen are concentrating on a parade of criminals being shown one by one in the line-up box. After the last suspect is discussed the lights go up and Sullivan is found dead. Graham believes the chief was poisoned by a dart. When the police surgeon bursts into the room and claims he has discovered the murder method, he immediately falls dead as well. Now there is a room full of suspects and a murderer is among them.

“Midnight Phantom” was released in 1935 and was directed by Bernard B. Ray. This is a bottom of the barrel poverty row film by Reliable Pictures. They didn’t make a lot of films to begin with and the ones they did, nobody ever heard of. I only know about 38 movies in their resume and a lot of them were westerns.

At only 59 minutes long you would think the movie would go by fast, but unfortunately it wasn’t until about 45 minutes that the murder occurred. Then at about 51 minutes the second murder occurs. At about 56 minutes the murder of both is solved and the killer revealed.

There’s a lot that went wrong with this movie. Except for Denny, the acting and the dialogue are kinda bad. The pacing is slow until the aforementioned last ten to fifteen minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a double murder with a minimum of two dozen suspects solved so fast. Even though most of the movie was allotted to character development there were so many suspects that you still didn’t know much about most of them and you really didn’t care about any of them. And why the title “Midnight Phantom” is another head scratcher.

Unless you are a sucker for all things mystery movie you might as well watch this one on you tube. It’s public domain and it’s free.