Anthony's Film Review
Dressed to Kill (1941)
Dressed to Kill is not an extraordinary murder mystery, but it still moves along nicely...
The 1941 mystery film Dressed to Kill amazingly tells an entertaining story within a short running time of 74 minutes. Some might call this movie a B-movie because of how it does not strive to be a masterpiece. I don't know. I wouldn't say it's a B-movie, because it doesn't give the impression that it's below average to just plain horrible. I think it's an interesting movie. It does help to note, though, that Dressed to Kill is one of seven films starring Lloyd Nolan as private investigator Michael Shayne. That could certainly explain why this movie is relatively short and quick.
The movie doesn't start in the same way as the usual mystery. Instead of Shayne being at his desk in an office when a new client walks in, we see the detective in a men's clothing store buying a new suit in preparation for his wedding. He meets his fiance Joanne La Marr, played by Mary Beth Hughes, in her apartment for a bit. Just as the two soon-to-be newlyweds are on their way out, they hear a woman screaming from upstairs. Shayne rushes to the source and discovers that the woman screaming has just seen two murder victims.
Now, he could easily let the police handle the whole thing and go off with Joanne to the wedding. But no. He apparently has a strong drive to solve cases and decides to try to crack this one, hopefully soon enough to still be able to make it to the wedding. With that decision made, Shayne examines the two victims, both sitting at a dining table, with one wearing a dog costume head that was obviously placed by the murderer to cover up a gunshot wound to the head.
Shayne does call the police over and tries to work with them. Even so, there are moments when he decides to withhold a few things from the police and does things his way. Still, he manages to dig deep into the mystery, which apparently surrounds the cast of a theatrical play, as the two murder victims are connected in that way. Shayne is a good detective like any other in that he doesn't give up until all of the missing links are found.
The mystery does have a nice climax and conclusion. So the plot is one reason I enjoyed Dressed to Kill. Another reason is the performances by the cast who all appear natural in their roles. On top of this, there's the mixture of mild suspense and subtle humor, particularly when Shayne is trying hard to convince Joanne that he will finish solving the case by the time their wedding is scheduled. All in all, Dressed to Kill is a quick but fun movie if you love cinematic crime mysteries.
For more information about Dressed to Kill, visit the Internet Movie Database.