blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Murder at Glen Athol (1936, Frank R. Strayer)

John Miljan and Irene Ware star in MURDER AT GLEN ATHOL, directed by Frank R. Strayer for Chesterfield Motion Pictures Corporation.

Murder at Glen Athol should be just a little bit better. The script has a number of twists, with Strayer handling them ably, but it’s just too short as it turns out. The film runs under seventy minutes, which would be fine for a B mystery, but Glen Athol (the title is problematic–Glen Athol is never said in the film) has a lot more going on.

First, just because it opens the film, there’s detective John Miljan and his sidekick, James P. Burtis. Miljan’s a debonair detective of the Nick Charles variety and Burtis is a rough and tumble ex-prizefighter. There’s some really funny bickering between them at the beginning and some throughout the film (Burtis’s performance isn’t quite good enough to make it work as well as it should), but once Irene Ware shows up as Miljan’s love interest… her effect on the hetero life mates isn’t really explored.

Second, the murder investigation reveals a complicated situation of blackmail and cover-up. Since the murder occurs twenty plus minutes into the film, there’s not much time for Miljan to make discoveries. Instead he does it mostly in summary–he explains the entire solution without the audience having seen key features on screen.

Strayer keeps a tight pace, so I doubt he would have needed more than ten more minutes to fill the story out.

Still, it’s a decent mystery; Miljan turns in a great performance.

Speaking of Strayer, he does wonders with a visibly tiny budgeted production.



Directed by Frank R. Strayer; screenplay and adaptation by John W. Krafft, based on the novel by Norman Lippincott; director of photography, M.A. Anderson; edited by Roland D. Reed; produced by Maury M. Cohen; released by Chesterfield Motion Pictures Corporation.

Starring John Miljan (Bill Holt), Irene Ware (Jane Maxwell), Iris Adrian (Muriel Randel), Noel Madison (Gus Colleti), Oscar Apfel (Reuben Marshall), Barry Norton (Tom Randel), Harry Holman (Campbell Snowden), Betty Blythe (Ann Randel), James P. Burtis (Mike ‘Jeff’ Jefferies), Lew Kelly (Police Sgt. Olsen), Wilson Benge (Simpson) and E.H. Calvert (Dist. Atty. McDougal).


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