|THE MISSING JUROR (aka: TOMORROW WE DIE) (director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: story by Leon Abrams & Richard Hill Wilkinson/Charles O'Neal; cinematographer: L.W. O'Connell; editor: Paul Borofsky; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Jim Bannon (Joe Keats), Janis Carter (Alice Hill), George Macready (Harry Wharton / Jerome K. Bentley), Jean Stevens (Tex Tuttle), Joseph Crehan (Willard Apple aka Falstaff ), Walter Baldwin (Sheriff), Al Bridge (Deputy Sheriff Ben), Cliff Clark (Inspector Davis), Trevor Bardette (Tom Pierson), John Tyrrell (Sergeant Regan), William Nevell (Wally), Carole Mathews (Marcy), Milton Kibbee (Joe, train engineer), Mike Mazurki (Cullie), Ray Teal (Chief of detectives at line-up), Shelby Payne (Marie 'Sugar' Chappel), George Lloyd (Sasbo), Cecil Weston (Ellen Jackson), Charles Wilson (Mac); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Wallace MacDonald; Columbia Pictures; 1944)|
low-budget programmer nail-biter."
by Dennis Schwartz
Boetticher ("Ride Lonesome"/"Seminole"/"Seven
Men From Now"), former cowboy and bullfighter, works
his way up the studio system to expertly direct this
taut low-budget programmer nail-biter. The
crime thriller puzzler is from a story by Leon
Abrams & Richard Hill Wilkinson, that's a piece
lifted from the I Love a Mystery radio series. The
crisp screenplay is by Charles O'Neal.
ace news reporter Joe Keats (Jim Bannon)
discovers that Jason Sloan was the fourth juror
murdered after the murder conviction trial of the
gentle wealthy Harry
J. Wharton (George Macready), who was sentenced to be
executed for murdering the low-class Marie Chapel, he warns his cynical editor
Willard Apple (Joseph
Crehan) that all
the jurors are in danger for convicting the innocent
man. The jury reacted to the false evidence of a
bought off witness, the private detective Sasbo (George Lloyd), who was paid by Marie's
former lover to frame Wharton. When Sasbo is shot in
the street, before he dies he gives to Keats and other
witnesses a deathbed confession of his foul deed. That
comes in the nick of time to get Wharton a full
pardon, but unfortunately Wharton lost his marbles
while incarcerated and is confined to the insane
asylum for treatment. While in confinement
Wharton's cell goes up in flames and an unrecognizable
burned body, assumed to be that of Wharton, is found
hanging from the ceiling.
Joe is ordered by his
editor to do a sensational story on the surviving
jurors and begins a flirtation with one of the jurors,
the classy blonde antiques dealer Alice Hill (
aspiring opera singer). When Keats meets the jury
K. Bentley (also Macready), who is buying antiques
from Alice for his country house, he arouses Keats'
suspicion by mentioning he knows who the murderer is
and will identify him by dawn. Because of Keats'
suspicious nature, he's able to recognize that the
jury killer is still on the loose and he saves Alice's
life as the vengeful killer comes after her and his
her trapped in his house.
does a good job of building the tension and does
wonders to make this B-movie story, lacking
psychological punch, come to life because of the dark
atmosphere created, droll sense of humor and solid
acting. It's hard to make a pulp B-film any better on
such a limited budget.
REVIEWED ON 8/1/2013 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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