Sunday, April 17, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #10: The Thirteenth Guest
(August 9, 1932 - Monogram Pictures)
Run Time (approximate): 68 minutes.
Directed by: Albert Ray.
Produced by: M. H. Hoffman.
Scenarists: Frances Hyland and Arthur Hoeri. Dialogue: Armitage Trail.
Based on the novel by: Armitage Trail.
Also Starring: Lyle Talbot (as Phil Winston), J. Farrell McDonald (as Captain Ryan), Paul Hurst (as Detective Grump), Erville Alderson (as Uncle John Adams), Ethel Wales (as Aunt Jane Thornton), Harold Eagles (as Harold 'Bud' Morgan), Crauford Kent (as Dr. Sherwood), Eddie Phillips (as Thor Jensen), Francis Rich (as Marjorie Thornton), Phillips Smalley (as Uncle Dick Thornton), Lynton Brent (as Prisoner (uncredited)), Al Bridge (as Policeman (uncredited)), Bobby Burns (as Photographer (uncredited)), Allan Cavan (as Uncle Wayne Seymour (uncredited)), Adrienne Dore (as Winston's Date (uncredited)), Kit Guard (as Prisoner (uncredited)), Henry Hall (as Police Sergeant-Jailer (uncredited)), John Ince (as Uncle John Morgan (uncredited)), Robert Klein (as John Barksdale (uncredited)), Isabel La Mal (as Marie's Mother (uncredited)), Tom London (as Detective Carter (uncredited)), Charles Meecham (as Marie's Father (uncredited)), Tiny Sandford (as Mike the Jailer (uncredited)), and Harry Tenbrook (as Cabbie (uncredited)).
Ginger's Character(s): Marie Morgan AND Lela
Ginger 'Screen Time: Approximately 14 minutes and 14 seconds (21.0% of the movie)
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) (1-10): (7.0) - Ginger has a pretty substantial role, but a somewhat 'pedestrian' one... at no point does she really get her dander up, although there are obviously a few tense moments...in which she does a pretty nice job as the 'Damsel in Distress'.
Film Quality (1-10): (5.0) - This might be a bit generous... some quite noticeable 'skips', audio not too great - to the point of the track being 'muted' when no dialogue is occurring... and just lots of 'junk' you see on a 70+ year old film that has at best been wiped off, but NOT restored...it would be nice to see it done...a good enough movie to warrant it, Ginger's presence aside...
Available From: DVD (Alpha Video)
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Ginger's first 'suspense' movie is a low-budget affair, but does have some fair points. First off, it is Ginger's first 'top billing', so there's something... and, the supporting cast is solid. The tale itself, while a bit hard to figure at first, settles into a typical 'whodunnit', although a bit unorthodox. The yarn begins at the old Morgan Mansion (I GUESS that is what it is called...), where a dinner / inheritance party took place thirteen years ago, with (you guessed it) thirteen guests attending, primarily relatives. Miss Marie Morgan, who was present at the original party, is summoned to appear there at present day. The joint has been vacant since that night, as her father died suddenly during the dinner he was presiding over, and her mom immediately packed her kids up after pop's funeral and left the place 'as-is'...so of course it is pretty creepy...BTW, why do 'haunted/vacated houses' in movies always seem to put white sheets all over the furniture? Just askin'...
ANYWAY... Marie settles into her dining room chair (with all the rats hopping around the centerpiece...which seems a bit odd that she would sit down there after her initial shriek at the initial rodent sighting...) and opens up the envelope that directed her there on her 21st birthday - and although she is there to collect her dowry her pop left her, she begins to get the heebie-jeebies in this vacant joint, as she hears footsteps - and, sure enough, she walks into another room and whoomp! There it is... she is murdered...or is she? This is where it gets a bit weird, as it turns out there was a 'double' (named Lela...hmmmm...) that was also there, who was trying to scoop up the anticipated inheritance before the REAL Marie got there - so Marie must have entered the other room in time to see Lela get waxed..and she somehow found a place to hide until the murder dude left out. SO, all that to say that Marie is OK (good thing...the loss of Ginger would have been a bad thing in this film, of course... it was a bit weird when I saw this the first time a good while back, and she is 'apparently' waxed five minutes in....it's like, well, that's that! But she thankfully shows up again about 10 minutes later) - but the cops are all freaked out when she shows up after hiding out in the house for a few hours...see, they thought she was dead and all... yup.
Well, SOMEBODY (Lela) was waxed, so police Captain Ryan (J. Farrell MacDonald) rings up a 'private eye' who evidently is pretty good, since he is hard to contact and even harder to contract - Phil Winston (Lyle Talbot). Cap eventually gets him to the scene, and when Marie shows up, more questions than answers result. Meanwhile, The family lawyer, Mr Barksdale (Robert Klein) is also zapped...oh yes, as to the 'method' of murder...it's a phone deal, y'all... anyway, the body count is now two, each of whom were dinner guests 13 years ago... Winston deduces from speaking with Marie's brother that the pattern the murderer appears to be following is to line them all up one by one, in the order they were sitting thirteen years ago.
Winston decides to tote Marie with him to his apartment (good move, dude...) - to protect her, of course... :-] He also begins to round up the other folks who were guests that fateful evening, and promptly throws them all in the cooler, primarily to protect them... at least for one night. Well, from there, it all sources back to the house, which of course they all seem to be drawn to...another chump gets the juice, and of course Marie gets nabbed, but not murdered, of course (see the 'note' a few paragraphs back regarding Ginger's importance in the film...) ...and that's where I'll leave it, although, as usual, it's pretty dang predictable as to the final arrangements...
Not a bad film...would benefit from a cleansing and improvement to its soundtrack... but hey, we could ALL benefit from that, right? :-]
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, Ginger does not have a 'Classic Gingery' moment in this one, but overall turns in a pretty solid performance, as usual...the overriding 'theme', which I really didn't notice until I started doing screen caps, is the inordinate amount of time Ginger spends on the phone...which in this movie is a risky preposition...
...Marie's (or is this Lela?) first visit back to the old homestead... ...Ginger looking quite 'sleuthy', albeit with a VERY pronounced varmint draped around her gorgeous little neck... "...hmmm - when did they put this tele in? It wasn't here when we vamoosed thirteen years ago... wonder what kind of coverage they have out here..." ...The letter is opened...is this a safe combination? Most likely...although it COULD represent the number of phones used in this production, as you shall soon see... ...Marie realizes she may be in peril...or at least one of her impostors could be... ...OK...Marie meets Winston, who is quite gruff with her... a good dose of SassyGinger would have been nice here...BTW, not that I really notice the dudes much in ANY of these movies, but...this cat would be a dead ringer for Warren Beatty in Dick Tracy... would that make Ginger 'Madonna'? Well, the Material Girl DOES mention Ginger in 'Vogue', so that's something, I guess... not that I know ANYTHING about what 'Voguing' is, or whatever... OK, back to the review, y'all... :-] ...Barksdale has been zapped and placed at his chair...funny, dude looks NOTHING like Beatty here...forget I mentioned it, y'all... ...and here we go with the phone again...Girl, you better put that puppy down before the dude in the wall gets cranked up... "...So, if I go with the unlimited package, where do my rollover minutes go?" "...really? Does that include weekends and holidays?" "...and it's all on one billing, right? No matter how many lines I have?" "...Yes, I want to get the unlimited minutes plan with the electrocution protection package, please..." "...hope they don't have any roaming charges here..." "...Wait until you hear this...there's at least THREE phones in this shack...we need to find out who their carrier is here..." "...What's that? Some additional fees may be incurred?" "...hmmm... what's this 45 minute charge from Hoboken about? I don't even KNOW anyone in Hoboken..." "...Listen, I'm telling you people for the LAST TIME... I'm on the National 'Do-Not-Call' List!!!
"Armitage Trail, the author of Scarface, wrote this mystery thriller, which, though far-fetched, is fairly well worked out on 'creepy creepy' lines. Ginger Rogers and J. Farrell MacDonald head the cast. Fair Entertainment." -Film Weekly
"Ginger Rogers is the girl and looks very cute." -Los Angeles Times
From "Ginger: My Story": "I made The Thirteenth Guest, a suspenseful little murder mystery co-starring Lyle Talbot, for Monogram Studios; it was good experience, but it didn't seem to be leading anywhere."
...The English title was "Lady Beware".
...This is the first film that Ginger has 'Top Billing' on the credits - pretty good one for a future GingerTrivia Round.
...So, Ginger plays two characters, one of which is named 'Lela'...hmmm...coincidence?
...Winston wears a wedding band throughout, although he is unmarried.
...According to IMDb, this movie is one of only five from Ginger's catalogue that did not get a 'proper' review by the New York Times. The others? Well...OK - Rafter Romance, Beautiful Stranger (Twist of Fate), The First Traveling Saleslady, and The Confession (Quick, Let's Get Married!) - seems like those movies with multiple titles are not as well-received...well, along with other 'issues' with them, unfortunately...
#6 of TEN Reviewed to date...
GingerFilm Rankings through TEN Reviews:
#1: The Tenderfoot;
#2: The Tip-off;
#3: Queen High;
#4: Young Man of Manhattan;
#5: Carnival Boat;
#6: The Thirteenth Guest;
#7: The Sap from Syracuse;
#8: Suicide Fleet;
#9: Follow The Leader;
#10: Honor Among Lovers.
Up Next: "Hat Check Girl"...um...yeah. Well, I'll gather what we have on it, and at least set up a 'placeholder' for it, when it is finally brought back home to us Gingerologists... or is it 'we' Gingerologists? Kori? :-]