THE KING MURDER. Chesterfield, 1932. Conway Tearle, Natalie Moorhead, Marceline Day, Dorothy Revier, Don Alvarado, Huntley Gordon, Maurice Black, Robert Frazer. Director: Richard Thorpe.

   People who read this blog on a regular basis are a lot more likely to recognize some of the actors and actresses who appeared in this movie, but I have to admit that until now I hadn’t heard of any of them. One I’d have liked to have seen more of in the film itself is Dorothy Revier, who had a long career in the silents before this one, as well as for another five or six years afterward.

   Unfortunately she had the misfortune of playing the blonde gold-digger (and blackmailer) who ends up (not surprisingly) being the first murder victim no more than 10 or 15 minutes into the movie.

   Given her rather shady way of making a living, in more ways than one, there is a long list of would-be killers, the sorting out of who might be the real one makes for a surprisingly entertaining 60 minutes or more. Even though talkies hadn’t been around for very long when The King Murder was produced, the people who made seem to have known what they were doing, even with the budget restrictions they must have been working under.

   Don’t get me wrong. The movie certainly shows its age, and the method used to kill Miriam King and an unfortunate police officer is awfully creaky, if not downright impossible. But for a murder mystery made in 1932, you can do a lot worse.

   And as a note in passing, the original review in Variety suggested that the movie is based on the 1923 unsolved Manhattan murder of Dorothy King, a model and nightclub hostess who may also have been a blackmailer. It was one of two similar murders dubbed “The Butterfly Murders,” both victims drawn to the glamor of Broadway, only to end up dead. If you’re interested, you can read more about it here.