DANGEROUS CORNER. RKO, 1934. Virginia Bruce, Conrad Nagel, Melvyn Douglas, Erin O’Brien-Moore, Ian Keith, Betty Furness. Based on the play by J.B. Priestley. Director: Phil Rosen.

   Phil Rosen was around in pictures almost from the beginning through the 40s for no apparent reason, a director whose oeuvre included everything from distinguished silent films to the very dregs of the Charlie Chan series at Monogram. In 1934, RKO trusted him with a mildly prestigious effort called Dangerous Corner, based on a J.B. Priestly play, lavished with a very distinguished cast, including Virginia Bruce, Betty Furness, Conrod Nagel and Melvyn Douglas.

   It’s a well-written, if terribly contrived bit of work involving larceny, suicide (or was it?) infidelity and what-all, and up to the chicken-out ending it turns up some very deft and nasty surprises, as the lead characters, reflecting on the mysterious death of a disgraced friend, find their relationships suddenly spinning this way and that.

   A director with a sense of Drama, like William Wyler, could have made this a classic. A director with a sense of Style, like Mitchell Leisen, could have made it a devastating tragedy-of-manners. Alas, all Phil Rosen knew how to do was photograph actors talking, so the fine Priestly lines, delivered flawlessly by a superb cast, just sort of flops out and lies there, cluttering up the screen till someone decides this thing’s run on long enough and puts THE END to it.

   A damn shame.