Susan Hart, assistant to private detective Russ Ashton, is given a camera concealed in a hat box and assigned to take a picture of a woman. A gun is accidentally hidden in the box and the woman is killed. Susan is charged with murder, but Russ and his less-than-useful associate, Harvard, get on the case and prove that the fatal shot was fired by the killer from across the street.
We think of television as beginning in the '50s, but that's simply not true.
This probably played in theaters as filler, but it is almost certainly a pilot for early television. There is no way else to explain the opening wherein the male lead introduces his supporting cast.
There are a number of pilots for unsold TV series still available, including a Sherlock Holmes pilot from the same era. There was even a brief series shot on film along similar lines (I think it was Boston Blackie). In any event, the interesting thing here is that some studios thought they could produce television shows the way they had produced theatrical B-movies. Of course, the broadcast network owners knew better (they knew that TV audiences had a lower "lowest common denominator" than film, and that less money could be spent accordingly).
AS a TV pilot, this is actually not so bad - cheap, quick with an interesting twist at the end. The actors are certainly trying their best, and - for television - it is more than competently made. This Poverty Row detective film is dreadful, but for a B-movie buff like me, still has moments of interest. While struggling detective Tom Neal is out of his office, his secretary/fiancée Pamela Blake takes on a case for him; a mysterious man with an obviously fake goatee says he wants her to get photographic evidence of his wife's adulterous activities. He tells Blake where to take the picture and even gives her a hat box with a hidden camera to use. However, when Blake goes to take the photo, it turns out that the box is rigged with a gun, and she shoots the wife. With equal parts help and hindrance from bumbling sidekick Allen Jenkins, Neal works to clear Blake. The plot is serviceable but with a weak script and a 45 minute running time, this ends up feeling more like a summary of a movie with most of the action and explanatory detail left out. I like both Neal and Jenkins (though the handsome Neal, only in his mid-30's, looks rather seedy here) and they both try hard, but the weak material defeats them. Blake is totally forgettable, though comic actress Virginia Sale gets some chuckles as a burger slinger and Jenkins' long-suffering gal. The most notable part of the film is at the very beginning, when the four leads introduce themselves directly to the camera, first in character, then with Neal giving their real names. a5c7b9f00b
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