AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
A Night for Crime
Director: Alexis Thurn-Taxis (Dir)
Release Date:   18 Feb 1943
Production Date:   27 Jun--early Jul 1942
Duration (in mins):   75 or 78
Duration (in reels):   8
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Glenda Farrell (Susan [Cooper])  
  and Lyle Talbot (Joe [Powell])  
    Ralph Sanford (Hoffman)  
    Lina Basquette (Mona [Harrison/Marie])  
    Lynn Starr (Carol)  
    Donald Kirke (Hart)  
    Forrest Taylor (Williams)  
    Ricki Vallin (Arthur)  
    Marjorie Manners (Ellen Smith)  
    Edna Harris (Telephone operator)  
  Columnists: Jimmy Starr (Himself)  
    Erskine Johnson (Himself)  
    Edwin Schallert (Himself)  
    Harry Crocker (Himself)  
    Ruby Dandridge (Alice)  
    Joseph M. DeVillard    
    Niels Bagge    
    Florence O'Brien    
    Robert Frazer    

Summary: One night in Hollywood, Joe Powell, the publicity director of Motion Picture Associates Studio, visits his girl friend, reporter Susan Cooper, at her apartment, and arrives during a blackout. When they hear a woman's scream, they go across the hall and find neighbor Ellen Smith strangled to death in her apartment. The building's switchboard operator tells policeman Hoffman that Ellen tried to phone the police but never finished her call. Later, Joe and Susan go out looking for studio star Mona Harrison, who has recently disappeared. When Mona's disappearance makes newspaper headlines, Joe and Susan meet with producer Hart, who is worried about the large investment he made in the film that Mona was working on before her disappearance. Police chief Williams calls a meeting at Mona's of all the people who had been at her home the night before for a dinner party. After Williams interviews maids Alice and Louise, who had quit just before dinner following an argument with Mona, and chauffeur Arthur, who has an alibi, Hart recalls events of the evening: Hart arrives at Mona's with Susan, Joe and an actress named Carol. Mona is anxious to introduce him to Ellen Smith, an ingenue, but is rude to Carol and Susan. As the servants have quit, Mona offers to take everyone to dinner at the Mocambo, and arranges to meet them there. However, neither she nor Ellen show up. After Hart concludes his story, Williams dismisses everyone, but Susan stays behind to search Mona's bedroom and finds a safe behind her vanity. Susan hides in the closet when a man enters and takes papers from the safe, then after he leaves, she is nearly strangled to death by an unseen assailant, who escapes when Hoffman enters. Hoffman arrests Susan for breaking and entering, and Hart secretly arranges to shoot the final scenes of the film out of town. To secure her release from jail, Susan tells Williams and Hoffman that Mona's disappearance is a publicity stunt and gets Joe to post her bail. Shortly after, Joe and Susan meet Hart at his office, and learn that Mona has been found strangled to death in Topanga Canyon. Joe and Susan's curiosity is piqued when unidentified film reels are delivered to Hart, and he locks them in his office closet. Later, the coroner brings in a crowd of Hollywood personalities to identify Mona's body. The police determine that although Ellen was murdered by a man, Mona was killed by a woman. Joe and Susan sneak into Hart's office and screen the secret reels, which show footage of Mona, alive, in the final scenes of her film. The usually combative Joe and Susan decide to work together, and remember that Mona had a twin sister. Joe is nearly strangled to death by an unseen assailant as he checks his office files for the sister's name. Susan grows impatient waiting for Joe and leaves, but Joe revives and tells Hart that he has seen the film. Hart admits that he found Mona in Reno, Nevada, and Joe realizes that Susan must be headed there. Concerned about Susan's safety, Hart, Carol and Joe head for Reno, and are followed by Hoffman and Williams. Susan, meanwhile, is nearly driven off the road by Arthur, who then crashes. Before dying, he tells Susan the whole story. She then goes to the hotel and when Joe, Carol and Hart arrive, she presents a signed confession from Arthur stating that he murdered Ellen and Mona's twin sister Marie. Susan, however, insists that it was Mona who has been murdered and proves that the woman claiming to be Mona is really the psychopathic Marie, after which Marie becomes violent. In her fury, Marie accidentally falls to her death from the hotel window, and Williams and Hoffman agree that Susan has once again solved a case. Susan reveals she used a fake confession to force Marie into exposing herself. Hart admits that Marie had called him from the railroad station after Mona's disappearance and asked him to take some letters from the safe, in exchange for which she agreed to appear in the final scenes of the film. Susan then calls the story in to her editor: Arthur was married to Marie for years and they were blackmailing Mona. When she refused to continue paying, Marie choked her to death and Arthur killed Ellen, a witness to Mona's murder, to protect Marie. Joe and Susan return to Hollywood just as another blackout is announced. Susan resists Joe's marriage proposal until she learns that he has enlisted in the Army. 

Production Company: Lester Cutler Productions  
Production Text: Leon Fromkess in Charge of Production
Distribution Company: Producers Releasing Corp.  
Director: Alexis Thurn-Taxis (Dir)
Producer: Lester Cutler (Prod)
  C. A. Beute (Assoc prod)
Writer: Jimmy Starr (Orig story)
  Arthur St. Claire (Scr)
  Sherman Lowe (Scr)
  John Vlahos (Addl dial)
Photography: Marcel Le Picard (Dir of photog)
Film Editor: Fred Bain (Film ed)
Music: Lee Zahler (Mus dir)
Sound: Ben Winkler (Sd)
Production Misc: Edith Baldwin Watkins (Dial dir)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Producers Releasing Corp. 12/2/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP11769

PCA NO: 8631
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Mystery
Subjects (Major): Amateur detectives
  Motion picture producers
  Women reporters
Subjects (Minor): Blackmail
  Blackouts in war
  Confession (Law)
  Falls from heights
  Hollywood (CA)
  Motion picture actors and actresses
  Motion pictures
  Proposals (Marital)
  Reno (NV)

Note: Columnists Jimmy Starr, Erskine Johnson, Edwin Schallert and Harry Crocker, who portray themselves in the film, were listed separately, apart from other cast credits. A Night for Crime marked Lina Basquette's first film appearance since 1938, when she appeared in Twentieth Century-Fox's Four Men and a Prayer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1458). Basquette retired from the screen after her appearance in this film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   13 Mar 1943.   
Daily Variety   3 Jul 1942.   
Daily Variety   22-Jul-42   
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jun 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jul 42   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jul 42   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   1-Aug-42   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   1 Aug 42   p. 809.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Sep 42   p. 903.
Variety   10 Mar 43   p. 23.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.