FROM HEADQUARTERS. Warner Brothers, 1933. George Brent, Margaret Lindsay, Eugene Pallette, Robert Barrat, Henry O’Neill, Hugh Herbert, Dorothy Burgess, Theodore Newton, Hobart Cavanaugh, Ken Murray. Director: William Dieterle.

   That’s quite a cast for a short 64-minute pre-Code detective story, with a director who may not have been known very well back in 1933 but one who, as you know full well, went on to much bigger and better things.

   And it’s quite a mixture. It starts out in near documentary fashion, as if to show the viewer of that era exactly what goes on behind the scenes of a full-fledged murder investigation by a big city police department, complete with fingerprinting, mugshots, line-ups, ballistics testing, ultraviolet rays (to read letters written in invisible ink).

   It’s also a very complicated murder mystery. What at first is assumed to have been a suicide, that of an aging Broadway playboy, turns out to be murder inside, with all kinds of people, it is soon discovered, coming in and out of his apartment all night long.

   It also turns out that the victim was not a very nice man, so almost everyone that was in and out of his apartment is also immediately a suspect.

   It’s also, alas, a comedy, at least in part, since in 1933 almost every detective puzzle mystery has to has lot of humorous shtick — such as a bail bondsman who is constantly walking up and down the halls of police headquarters looking for clients, and a police lab scientist just itching to get his hands on a lovely case of murder. Plus Eugene Pallette as the bullfrog-voiced and bull-headed police sergeant second in command of the case who’s never right about anything.

   There is a bit of romance in the story as well, but after all of the above, it’s very nearly squeezed out: the girl who is the first suspect on the list (Margaret Lindsay) is also the former girl friend of the police lieutenant in charge of the case.

   But all in all, I had a good time with this one, and if you’re fond of movies from this era, I’m sure you will too.

Editorial Comment:   If this review sounds to you as déjà vu all over again, you’re right. David Vineyard reviewed this same movie less than a week ago. Here’s the link. In the comments you will notice that I thought the movie sounded familiar. I did some hunting and I found this old review I wrote about ten years ago after seeing it on a home video tape from TCM. Never one to waste any words I’ve written, well what you see is the result. (I even used the exact same images.)