|The one-sheet (above) for GRAND CENTRAL MURDER (1942) (which I watched yesterday with my buddy Kelly Greene) makes the claim that the film is "screamingly funny" and "screamingly thrilling." That's a lie. It's neither.|
What this MGM B-movie (it was made in 22 days) is, is a comedy murder mystery that simply doesn't work. It's not funny at all. The "comedy" bits consist of overacting and mugging by Sam Levene who plays a soda-pop addicted and incompetent police detective. He's gathered a cast of suspects to investigate the murder of gorgeous Broadway diva/gold digger Patricia Dane. Included in this assemblage is Van Heflin, a young, smarter-than-the-police (you know he's bright, he smokes a pipe) private detective and his lovely wife Virginia Grey. Next to the very young and overly animated Van Heflin, Patricia Dane and Virginia Grey are the best things about this dreary film. They were both very attractive ladies.
The questioning continues, interspersed with flashbacks. At one point, director S. Sylvan Simon seems to have suddenly decided that all of this talk was pretty damn boring and a fist fight between Heflin and suspect Tom Conway was called for in order to liven things up. It doesn't work. All of the suspects are finally gathered in the private rail car where the murder occurred and Heflin reveals the killer. Yawn.
There are many other films out there that meld mystery and comedy much more successfully than is done in GRAND CENTRAL MURDER. If you're a die-hard MGM devotee or a fan of any of the players, you might enjoy this one. Otherwise, GRAND CENTRAL MURDER gets a thumbs down.