Murders in the Zoo is the perfect vehicle for Lionel Atwill to show his talent. From the opening scene where his character, zoologist Eric Gorman, exacts his own brand of justice on a would-be suitor of his wife, we watch a man who is insanely protective of his not-so-faithful spouse and will do anything to keep her, including murder.
Director A. Edward Sutherland [International House, The Invisible Woman] does a brilliant job at keeping the action moving at a nice pace. Although Murders is only 62 minutes long, it feels even shorter. The screenplay is smart and effective at telling the story and has a little bit of humor mixed in with its horror. And while the subject matter has been explored many times on the screen, it feels fresh and interesting here.
In addition to Atwill's wonderful performance, other standouts include Kathleen Burke [Island of Lost Souls] who plays Mrs. Gorman. Strangely, she bears an uncanny resemblance to my great Aunt Alberta who was also a femme fatale in her day. Her scenes with Atwill are very good, especially when she tells him she does’t love him anymore. Charles Ruggles provides the comic relief as the bumbling press agent Peter Yates. His comedic timing is impeccable and he steals many scenes he’s in.
Don’t miss this wonderful film. It may not be know as well as some of the blockbusters of the early 30’s but fans of the genre and time period will find it a wonderful viewing experience.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.