Eddie Lang (Chester Morris), a decent family man making $27.50 a week, borrows fifty-dollars from Richard Farra (Leo Carrillo) in order to take his wife, Mary (Helen Mack) and two small ... See full summary »
Bill Crane, a private detective with no weakness as an investigator but large ones for blondes and straight-whiskey, gets a call from his attorney friend, Charles Frazee, with a request to find evidence that will free Robert Westland, who is under death sentence for murdering his wife. Crane immediately runs into a barrage of machine-gun fire, and a blonde, Agatha Hogan, only slightly less dangerous. After a night of wine, women and song, Crane picks up a clue that may aid Wstland. With the help of a deep-sea diver, a stop watch, and a taxicab driver, he is sprinting after the real culprit...just as Westland is starting his last mile to the electric chair.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was the third of four Universal Crime Club features to be telecast on New York City's Dumont Television Station WABD in November-December 1946, marking the first breakthrough of major studio films being telecast in the postwar era; this actually came about because, by this time, they had fallen into the hands of Astor Pictures Corporation, who had been distributing them theatrically for the past four years. It was preceded by The Black Doll (1938) and The Lady in the Morgue (1938) and was followed by Danger on the Air (1938). It would not be until ten years later that Universal itself, and the rest of the majors, opened their vaults to their longtime rival, television. In Washington DC it first aired Monday 28 July 1947 on WTTG (Channel 5), in Boston Friday 11 June 1948 on WBZ (Channel 4), in Chicago Saturday 10 July 1948 on WGN (Channel 9), in Atlanta Saturday 27 November 1948 on WSB (Channel 8), in Detroit Thursday 7 July 1949 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Cincinnati Friday 2 September 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11), in San Francisco Tuesday 20 September 1949 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Albuquerque Sunday 2 October 1949 on KOB (Channel 4), and in Los Angeles Thursday 29 December 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5). See more »
1937's "The Westland Case" began the regrettably short-lived series of Crime Club mysteries from Universal, clearly superior to their Inner Sanctums but more difficult to find. Of the 7 official entries, 3 starred Preston Foster as hard drinking, perpetually sleepy Detective Bill Crane, and Frank Jenks as his wisecracking sidekick Doc Williams; such was the case with this first one, as Robert Westland (Theodore von Eltz) has only six days left to live, convicted of murdering his wife, whom he was in the process of divorcing. Crane and Williams are summoned when someone sends Westland a note promising to alibi him, but every time a new lead becomes promising, the subject winds up dead. The dead wife was discovered locked in her room, her key still lying on the table beside the body, and her husband in possession of the only other key, plus his gun has seemingly disappeared after the murder. Foster and Jenks excel in their tailor-made roles, not dissimilar to the "I Love a Mystery" duo, Jack Packard (Jim Bannon) and Doc Long (Barton Yarborough), who also did 3 features in 1945-46. Russell Hicks and George Meeker make a decent pair of suspects, and Ward Bond plays Westland's fellow death row inmate Connors, who puts him onto the right lawyer to get him out, played with great relish by scene-stealing Clarence H. Wilson (frequently seen opposite Charlie Chase in 2 reel Hal Roach comedies). The other Bill Crane titles are "The Lady in the Morgue" (bringing back Thomas E. Jackson and Barbara Pepper) and "The Last Warning" (both 1938). Editor Otis Garrett graduated to director with the next Crime Club, "The Black Doll," missing out on just one, "The Last Warning."
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