DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

NINE LIVES ARE NOT ENOUGH (director: Edward Sutherland; screenwriters: Fred Niblo Jr./from the novel by Jerome Odlum; cinematographer: Ted McCord; editor:  Doug Gould; music:  William Lava; cast: Ronald Reagan (Matt Sawyer), Joan Perry (Jane Abbott), Faye Emerson (Rose Chadwick), James Gleason (Sgt. Daniels), Howard Da Silva (Murray, City Editor), Edward Brophy (Officer Slattery), Peter Whitney (Roy Slocum), Ben Welden (Moxie Karper), Charles Drake ("Snappy" Lucas), Vera Lewis (Mrs. Slocum), Howard Hickman (Colonel Andrews), Tom Stevenson ( Charles), Thurston Hall ( J. B. Huntley); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bryan Foy; Warner Bros.; 1941)

"Lively B-film crime drama."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lively B-film crime drama, centered around city newspaper reporters. It's ably helmed by Edward Sutherland ("Dixie"/"The Flying Deuces"/"Diamond Jim"), who bases it on the novel by Jerome Odlum and the script by Fred Niblo Jr.

Publisher (Thurston Hall ) of the Daily Express is furious when threatened by gangster Moxie Karper (Ben Welden) for libel because brash reporter Matt Sawyer (Ronald Reagan) wrote a story that has him arrested without any proof, in which he is subsequently released. Harried city editor, Murray (Howard Da Silva), as a demotion, assigns the loudmouth reporter to ride at night in a patrol car with Sergeant Daniels (James Gleason) and Officer Slattery ((Edward Brophy). At the boarding house where Mrs. Slocum (Vera Lewis) is a landlady and lives with her retarded adult son Roy (Peter Whitney), the cops discover the dead body of missing millionaire Edward Abbott in a room locked from the inside. Sawyer is convinced it's murder and not suicide because the vic's hands are in his pockets, even though the gun used in the shooting is lying next to the corpse's head. It's soon learned that Moxie lives in a house next door and he owns the boarding house. When Sawyer gets the scoop on the big story, his editor boss is pleased. Sawyer also plots to keep rival reporter "Snappy" Lucas (Charles Drake) from crashing his exclusive by any means possible. When Abbott's daughter Jane (Joan Perry) and the vic's business partner, Colonel Andrews (Howard Hickman), arrive to identify the body, Jane agrees to help Sawyer prove her dad's death wasn't a suicide.

Charles (Tom Stevenson), Abbott's ex-con chauffeur, arouses Sawyer's suspicion, but Jane vouches for him. In any case Sawyer sneaks into Charles's apartment and finds the telephone number of Rose Chadwick (Faye Emerson), Abbott's mistress.

The inquest rules Abbott's death a suicide and Sawyer is fired, but he investigates it as a murder on his own. When Sawyer and the friendly prowl car cops find Rose packed and ready to leave town, they find out that Charles is her husband and that she never met Abbott. When Sawyer and Sarge go to question Charles, they find him dead in his apartment and it looks like suicide. Returning to Rose's place, they find Slattery unconscious and that Rose jumped out the window.

In the third act, the reporter and the cops uncover who the killer is and the reasons for the crimes.

It's a routine cheapie formulaic whodunit, and a chipper Reagan, with a flare for scatter-brained comedy, catches the attention of the studio bosses with a pleasing performance and they move him up the studio ladder to more future high budget films.

REVIEWED ON 7/2/2014       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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