In RKO’s Nocturne, George Raft plays a Hollywood police detective who lives very happily with his mother (Mabel Paige).
(For information, Raft is 50 ( though he looks 40). Even so…)
He’s investigating the murder of a love-em and leave-em lothario (Edward Ashley) who was a composer.
Raft falls for Lynn Bari (playing a movie extra who lives in a swank apartment) who may or may not be the murderer.
Raft says to his mother,”How would you feel if I married a murderess ?”
Without drawing breath,his mother shoots back,” I wouldn’t mind, so long as she is a nice girl!”
(Mabel Paige is a joy as Raft’s mother.)
There are some nice touches in the film – Raft doesn’t do his usual dance sequence with the leading lady – he goes to a dance studio looking for information and pretends he can’t dance!
Raft is seen at various Hollywood locations,including the Brown Derby, the Pantages theater, and the main entrance to RKO Studios. Great shots of 1946 Hollywood.
Director Joseph Pevney ( in the first of his few acting roles) is very good as ‘Fingers’ the piano player at a bar . The obligatory singer at the bar is Virginia Huston (dubbed by Martha Mears) as Lynn Bari’s sister.
(Pevney directed Female on the Beach and Meet Danny Wilson, and lots of TV programs)
A real find for me was Myrna Dell as a hard as nails dame who is the dead composer’s housekeeper! Myrna gets some good lines and fires them off with style.
When quizzed by Raft about the dead man ( who has framed photos of all his girlfriends on his wall), she warbles,”He was a ladykiller.But don’t get any ideas. I ain’t no lady.”
Maybe the best part of Nocturne is the first 5 minutes when the camera slowly enters through the large window of Edward Ashley’s luxury penthouse. He is at the piano working on his latest composition, a song called ‘Nocturne’. His latest girlfriend is sitting on a sofa but we cant see who she is because of the lighting shadows.
He is very casually telling her they are finished. It’s almost as if she isn’t there. He tells her to go away,have a good time, he’ll give her money. Next,a shot rings out and he slumps down dead.
The plot gets a little complicated and the ending is wrapped up too quickly but it’s an enjoyable murder mystery which held my attention.Only drawback I suppose is that Raft’s ability to convey emotion is severely limited. He’s playing a man who becomes obsessed with solving this crime,even losing his job. I could see Dick Powell or John Payne or Robert Ryan making the detective so much more dynamic.
Still, it’s one I’ll be returning to again.
The shot below is the only time Raft cracks a smile. (And of course he is dressed more like a tycoon than a cop!)