Pure Terror: Green Eyes

March 21, 2015 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

It is really difficult to fairly judge a movie made in 1934. A lot has changed since then and judging Green Eyes against movies made today or even movies made in the 60’s and 70’s is really unfair. I believe this is the oldest movie on this set so it won’t come up very often but in cases like this, it’s only fair to compare this movie to others from the time period. I am well aware that the vast majority of audiences will get easily bored by a movie this old due to a lack of CGI and the use of slang words that are 80 years old. All of that in mind, I also need to complain because this is the third movie in a row on this set that is not a horror movie. If you are putting together a set of horror movies, there is no shortage of public domain horror movies from which to choose. You don’t need to pad it out with a murder mystery.

Green Eyes is the kind of movie that inspired the board game Clue. It’s on the lower dead of the murder mystery spectrum for any number of reasons. The main reason this movie fails to impress is that it might has well be called Red Herring: The Motion Picture. Everything in this movie is misleading. Everyone is lying to the police. Everyone is acting suspicious. You would think this would make for a really thick plot with lots of dramatic potential. But in the end, you don’t feel like you were along for the ride in solving this murder, you feel like you were mislead and had your time wasted. The solution to the mystery comes completely out of nowhere and is only revealed by things that took place off screen. Things we never saw. The person who did it was a bit player that I believe was only in one scene. By the time he pops up at the end, I had forgotten he was in the movie.

I’m not the person to write the users guide on writing an effective murder mystery. Other, more qualified people, can do that. But I know what I like when it comes to this type of movie. I feel like mysteries are most effective when the audience member feels like they are solving the case with the detectives. Green Eyes, short though it may be (running time 68 minutes), feels long because most of what happens is all padding. We start out with a millionaire being murdered. His granddaughter and her boyfriend are running away to get married and have taken some elaborate steps to keep from being followed. They cut the phone lines, cut the distributor lines on all the cars, and away they go.  So they are the first suspects. The police arrive after a neighbor’s phone is used to call in the murder and they are stopped before they can elope.  A writer is also at the party. He writes mystery novels so they makes him qualified to crack this case. Which is what he does. He does this by repeatedly tampering with evidence and obnoxiously getting in their way every change he gets. More than once I shouted at this movie “obstruction of justice!” This guy should have been arrested more than once. In fact, everyone at this party and who live in this home should have been arrested at one time or another. As we meander through this movie, the witness lie repeatedly to the police. Not one of them was charged with perjury. One of them attacks a police officer. He is not arrested.  Instead they just talk it over and come to an understand. One guy attempts to flee the scene of the crime. No charges are brought. Later that man commits suicide and leaves a note describing the whole sub plot between the granddaughter and murder victim. But in the end, the accountant did it to cover up how he was stealing from his boss. The writer solves the case by beating a confession out of the accountant. Then, he sends the accountant to his room to think about what he has done. What happens next is completely the writers fault. He should have alerted the police, which would have been easy considering they were standing guard all night long. He gave the accountant the opportunity to escape. Instead, the accountant waits until morning at which point he shoots his wife and then himself. By not alerting the authorities, the writer, in my mind, is responsible for a double murder.

This movie could have been so much more if it had a better script. They had all the pieces to make a 30’s murder mystery work. Character actors playing stereotype roles befitting the genre. A large, secluded house where anything could happen. Costumes. Film stock. Making a movie like this that works is not that hard. Where Green Eyes fails is completely in the writing. I don’t mind a mystery where everyone is a suspect. But what happens here is the majority of what we are seeing doesn’t matter in the end. It really feels like a waste of time.

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Entry filed under: Mystery. Tags: , , , .

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