Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Alternate Title: Hot Spot
USA, 1941. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Dwight Taylor, based on the novel by Steve Fisher. Cinematography by Edward Cronjager. Produced by Milton Sperling. Music by Cyril J. Mockridge. Production Design by Richard Day, Nathan Juran. Costume Design by Gwen Wakeling. Film Editing by Robert L. Simpson.
Carole Landis has turned up dead on the eve of her modeling career transitioning to Hollywood stardom, and suspicion has fallen on her promoter and boyfriend Victor Mature. Laird Cregar is terrific as the obsessed detective who hounds Mature at every step, asking him questions that flash back to Mature’s first meeting Landis at a grimy diner where she works as a waitress, which leads him to transform her into a classy society dame before putting her photo in every major magazine in the country. Questioning the dead woman’s grieving sister (Betty Grable), we learn more about the couple’s volatile relationship and, in particular, Mature’s frustration when Landis announced she was leaving him both personally and professionally to pursue her goals. Creger has no compunctions about following Mature into his own apartment to catch him admitting his guilt, which is not helped when the romantic angle assumes the shape of a triangle involving Grable and prompts our possibly wronged man to go on the lam and do some investigating of his own. A very big box office success at the time it came out, this is reportedly the first major noir film to come from Twentieth Century Fox, a lavishly photographed rendering of a B-movie plot with a stellar cast and a plot that keeps twisting even after the culprit has been revealed.