A scene from THE TRANS-ATLANTIC MYSTERY, directed by Joseph Henabery for Warner Bros.

The Trans-Atlantic Mystery (1932, Joseph Henabery)

The Trans-Atlantic Mystery is an early thirties mystery reduced to two reels. Gone is personality for the protagonist, gone is any humor between protagonist and sidekick; forget about a romantic interest or even any actual investigation.

Instead, it’s some scenes of criminal plotting, some violent activities, introductions to the suspects and then a little bit of suspense.

And, until the finale—when the detectives catch the criminal—it works really well.

But Trans-Atlantic has the benefit of good production values (though director Henabery is mediocre) and some excellent performances. Ray Collins is a vicious criminal who cajoles a victim’s valet into his criminal enterprise. Walter Kingsford is great as the valet (after the first “act,” he has more to do than Collins).

As the detectives, John Hamilton and Donald Meek are too tepid. They—and the rushed resolution—ruin the finale.

It’s too bad, it was rather neat.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Joseph Henabery; screenplay by Burnet Hershey, based on a story by S.S. Van Dine; director of photography, Edwin B. DuPar; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Ray Collins (Waite), Walter Kingsford (Dodge), Betty Pierce (Daisy), John Hamilton (Inspector Carr), Donald Meek (Dr. Crabtree) and Harry T. Morey (Ship’s Captain).

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