My Review of ‘Destination Murder’ (1950)

This picture starts off with a guy catching a movie with his date. The kid man, Jackie Wales, leaves to get popcorn during the intermission. (Remember those?) But he actually leaves the theater, goes to someone’s house (a guy named Mansfield), rings the doorbell, and does not make a parcel delivery. When Mansfield opens the door, Jackie delivers lead bullets to his body. For reasons that are unclear to say the least.

Too bad Mansfield didn’t have a peephole to look through. Was this in the days before peepholes? I should Google that. (I did. They were around in 1950.)

The man’s daughter, Laura, sees Jackie leave in a rather distinctive way — by jumping over the front gate. Smooth move, stupid. She later picks him, among others, out of a line-up, so did she identify him? Unclear, but possibly.

Image via Shadowplay.

Then Jackie shows up beside her car, and Laura offers him a ride. And takes him to her house. Nothing weird about that. But she tricks him using a strategy a three-year-old could see through that clearly demonstrates he’s an idiot. Laura parks next door to her house, watches Jackie get confused, then admits what she did, walks with him to the front door, and watches him jump the gate again. Too bad Smartphones hadn’t been invented.

Image via Rare Film.

But the police don’t think this constitutes anything they should follow up on. Makes you wonder who the real dummy is. So Laura pursues her own investigation.

Since Jackie is obviously too stupid not in charge of arranging the hit on Laura’s dad, her goal is to find the one who is. And to cut a 72-minute story even shorter, her snooping leads to a nightclub called The Vogue, run by a guy named Armitage. Great big guy, at that. Armitage likes music. He even owns a player piano that hides more than a few dust-ups.

Image via Letterboxd.

Laura infiltrates the club, taking a job as a cigarette girl. And she gets involved romantically with Armitage’s second-in-command, Stretch (that’s the kind of name characters in films like this had back then). Of course, there are complications with this scenario, which I won’t reveal, because … spoilers! Not to mention that it’s odd for her to fall for a guy involved with her dad’s demise. You could even say it’s, well, kind of a stretch.

Image via Cinéphile.

And here’s one for you: Armitage adores this blonde chick whose name doesn’t matter, but who does not adore Armitage back, while she flirts with Stretch, because … don’t worry about it. She gets Armitage to sign a written confession to murder. I can’t even recall how now, but clearly she intended nothing charitable.

This is a movie truly riddled with implausibilities. Yet it’s watchable enough. It’s short and kind of fun. Joyce MacKenzie as Laura does her best adult Nancy Drew impression. It’s a taut little crime picture, economically filmed. I’ll give it that. But they never explain why Laura’s dad was killed in the first place.

This isn’t a bad movie, just not extraordinary. It’s the kind of movie you might land on while flipping through channels, without much else to do. Is that still a thing?

* * *

Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Produced by Edward L. Cahn and Maurie M. Suess
Screenplay by Don Martin

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

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New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.