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Moonlight Murder

Moonlight Murder(1936)

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teaser Moonlight Murder (1936)

Since its completion in 1922, the Hollywood Bowl has been the epicenter of culture and higher art in the moviemaking capital of the world, a venue for orchestral performances, classical and operatic showcases, and a beloved exhibition site for popular music. (In her years as a student at Hollywood High School, Fay Wray was a volunteer usher.) No surprise then, given its prominence among locals and tourists alike, that the Bowl should have been employed by the major Hollywood studios as a filming location, as it has been in such films as A Star is Born (1937), Double Indemnity (1944), Anchors Aweigh (1945), and even the Looney Tunes cartoon classic Long-Haired Hare (1949). In MGM's economy whodunit Moonlight Murder (1936), cop Chester Morris must solve the murder of famed tenor Leo Carrillo, who died under mysterious circumstances during a performance of Verdi's Il Trovatore. The list of suspects and red herrings includes J. Carroll Naish (as a Phantom of the Opera style disgruntled composer), Pedro de Cordova (as a dodgy swami, who had warned Carrillo of his impending demise), and H. B. Warner and Duncan Renaldo (as cuckolds who had everything to gain by the late opera star's untimely passing). An A-class B-movie, Moonlight Murder was directed by Edwin L. Marin, a dab hand at whodunits (his first film was The Death Kiss, set in a Hollywood studio) and features an early example of forensic medicine being used (by a lady practitioner, no less) to solve the crime.

By Richard Harland Smith

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