Well, synchronicity strikes again. I’d just finished writing up my notes on watching this movie, only to discover that Dan Stumpf had beaten me to it, in one of his bimonthly contributions to DAPA-Em some 23 years ago. Neither one of us knew what the other was writing or had written, but as you will see, we were watching the same picture.

   Since this is my blog, I flipped a coin, and I came up first. (Or in other words, age before beauty.)

THE MISSING JUROR. Columbia Pictures, 1944. Jim Bannon, Janis Carter, George Macready, Jean Stevens, Joseph Crehan, with Trevor Bardette, Mike Mazurki, Pat O’Malley & Ray Teal (these last four uncredited). Director: Oscar Boetticher Jr.

Reviewed by STEVE LEWIS:

   This was the second film directed by Budd Boettecher, the first being One Mysterious Night, a Boston Blackie film released earlier the same year. My review of that earlier film can be found here. I gave it essentially a thumbs down review, but two people who often leave comments on this blog had an opposite opinion, which you should go read also, should you be so inclined.

   The story in The Missing Juror isn’t all that much — in fact, it’s pretty bad — but you can easily see the stylistic touches that Boetticher added, including very smooth panning shots and a “through the wall” approach to filming people moving from one room to another with a cross section of the wall seen separating the two rooms. (If there is a technical name for this, I don’t know what it is.)

   Jim Bannon, of Red Ryder and Jack Packard (I Love a Mystery) fame, plays a reporter who has covered the trial and conviction of a man accused of killing a young girl, but on the eve of his execution, finds the clue that saves him. The man has gone mad in the meantime, however, and once freed, he is confined to a mental institution, where he dies in a horrible fire.

   Or did he? He, or someone else acting as a one-man avenger, is causing the deaths of the twelve members of the jury that falsely convicted him. One of these jurors is home decorator Alice Hill (Janis Carter), whom Bannon’s character is immediately attracted to.

   Beware reading the IMDb page, else all will be revealed, but perhaps the name of George Macready as the member of the cast will steer you in the right direction anyway. There are holes in the plot a mile wide, and the extensive flashbacks at the beginning of the movie make the early going more difficult than it should be, but if you can ignore the story line and watch the fun the players seem to be having, then I think you will too.

Reviewed by DAN STUMPF:

   A movie shouldn’t really need as many redeeming qualities as The Missing Juror offers. Its rather rushed and unconvincing screenplay by Charles O’Neal is directed with real panache by Oscar “Budd” Boetticher, who would later work so memorably with Randolph Scott, and here offers up some meorable stylistic flourishes.

   The acting by Radio Star Jim Bannon as the standard wise-cracking reporter/detective is deep-voiced by totally without charm — though to be fair, Ronald Colman and Fred Astaire put together would have trouble eking any likability out of the lines Bannon has to work with — but there’s a typically magnetic performance from cold, slimy George Macready as an innocent victim and/or mad killer, a role that allows him to pull out all the stops, which he wisely avoids doing.

   As for the rest, the plot involves the serial murders of a jury that convicted an innocent man, and Bannon’s attempts to stop same. The Cops are all dumb, the women all lovely — particularly Janis Carter, as one of those classy 40s heroines with a weakness for dumb hunks — and the milieu is the familiar Columbia back lot, dressed up and photographed to best advantage.

   There’s also one of those movie moments that will linger on my mind a while:Janis Carter as a an ex-juror/victim-to-be, remarking casually about the odd number of furnishings waiting in the next room for her to deliver to a (heh-heh) customer. She closes the door, but the camera lingers in the room for perhaps ten seconds. Long enough for the camera to scan over heaps of boxes, all marked “12” and come to rest on a clock chiming Noon.

   Think about it.