steven-geray

Released February 6, 1947: BLIND SPOT, starring Chester Morris, Constance Dowling, and Steven Geray.  Directed by Robert Gordon (Black Eagle, It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Rawhide Trail).  Chester Morris is a penniless writer who refuses to compromise his integrity and write books with mass appeal.  He drowns himself in alcohol to numb the humiliation of begging his publisher (William Forrest) for some much needed cash.  There is no love lost between Morris and Forrest, and when Morris drunkenly barges into Forrest’s office, he interrupts a meeting between Forrest and Steven Geray, a popular mystery writer who is considerably more successful than Morris.  Forrest refuses to give Morris any money and chides him for not writing popular material like Geray.  Morris responds by demonstrating how trivial it is to write for the masses, and instantly comes up with an idea for a mystery in which a man is found stabbed to death in a room that is locked from the inside.  After this contentious meeting with Forrest, Morris continues to inundate himself in alcohol at a nearby bar.  He is subsequently joined by Forrest’s attractive secretary (Constance Dowling), and eventually shares his murder mystery idea with her.  Later that evening, Forrest is found stabbed to death in his office with the doors locked from the inside, just as Morris described in his story idea.  Although he didn’t commit the murder, Morris is the obvious suspect, and is hauled in by the police and interrogated.  The rest of the movie plays out like a classic whodunit, with Morris eluding the police while trying to determine who committed the crime.  Stylistically, the movie feels very much like a classic radio mystery show.  Morris’ frequent voiceovers propel the story in a similar manner to radio narrative, where much of the action needed to be spelled out for listeners in the absence of visuals, and indeed, the story itself has much in common with mysteries broadcast on shows like Suspense or I Love a Mystery.  The cast turns in an admirable, if largely generic, performance.  The chemistry between Morris and Dowling never manages to rise above a moderate simmer, while Geray’s heavy Eastern European accent often makes it difficult to understand some of his more intricate dialog.  The film’s biggest payoff is the ultimate revelation of how the locked-door murder was committed.  Blind Spot is a serviceable low-budget whodunit, in which the story, and not the cast, is its greatest strength.  We give Blind Spot 2.5 out of 5 fedoras.