Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Miss Pinkerton (1932)

Source: Cinemagraphe

Joan Blondell as Nurse Adams in Miss Pinkerton (1932). Nurse Adams is sick of the monotony of being a hospital nurse and is quite vocal about her discontent. But things are about to change for the bored nurse. She's given the exciting opportunity of working at the home of the well-known Mitchell family. The head nurse informs Nurse Adams that she'll also be assisting the police in a homicide case that happened at that same home. When she arrives, she finds herself in a situation that is a lot more than she bargained for. Her situation brings to mind the common saying: Be careful what you wish for because it might come true.

George Brent plays Police Inspector Patten who is continuously at the house investigating the suspicious death of the Mitchell family heir Herbert Wynn. He enlists Nurse Adams to help him look for clues and dubs her Miss Pinkerton, a reference to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. It's a reference that someone from 1932 would have gotten right away but a contemporary audience might scratch their head in confusion.

The film has a rather convoluted plot and there is quite a lot going on including murder disguised as suicide, insurance fraud, a secret marriage, affairs, poisoning, forgery, tricks and more. The film tries to spook audiences but in my opinion it falls flat and loses itself in its own plot. Even Joan Blondell couldn't save the movie for me. And I absolutely adore her and will watch just about any movie she's in. In Miss Pinkerton, Blondell's wide eyes grow even wider whenever she screams in fear. She does the frightened look well. But her character is in no way a victim even when she's put in various dangerous situations. She's sassy, clever and scrappy: the perfect detective. If I had to chose one thing I really liked about the film, it was Miss Pinkerton as a pre-code woman!


Nurse Adams/Miss Pinkerton and Inspector Patten (George Brent) have a romance which I thought could have been played up a bit more. The love story is rather neglected. It isn't given enough time to develop and because of that we don't really see any sparks between the two love birds. That whole plot line seems to have been added as after thought rather than an important part of the story.

It was nice to see actress Mary Doran in the film. She plays Florence Lenz, a gopher of one of the story's villains. Doran also played the other woman in one of my favorite pre-codes The Divorcee (1930). Also, Lyle Talbot has a bit part early on in  Miss Pinkerton as newspaper reporter.

Miss Pinkerton (1932) is one of five films in Warner Archive's Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume 5 DVD set. If you are a Pre-Code enthusiast, I recommend watching this film at least once to add to your repertoire.

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I purchased Miss Pinkerton as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume 5.


  1. I agree with your review -- I found this mildly diverting and was glad to see it for Brent, Blondell, and (briefly!) Talbot, but it was kind of weak. It needed some more "oomph"! :)

    Best wishes,

  2. Glad I'm not the only one who found this one weak

  3. i agree not a great film, but a great cast and Joan looks REALLY good in a nurses outfit, lol! Night Nurse is a much better pre code "Nurse" film, i'm betting you've seen that one already Quele :D

    Lyle Talbot is like the force...hes everywhere!

  4. I really enjoyed your review, Raquel -- anything with Joan Blondell (and Lyle Talbot!) is just all right with me. Plus, I'm a Mary Doran fan, too -- I just saw her in Party Husband with Dorothy Mackaill the other night. Looks like I'll be scraping up my pennies to get Vol. 5 of this series soon!

  5. It seems a thirlling, ver interesting film. I was talking about Joan Blondell another day, and I had only seen her in musicals. Even this Miss Pinkerton is directed by Lloyd Bacon, the same director of 42nd Street!
    Definetely, a future watch!

  6. Yeah, this movie disappointed me too. I think one of the big problems is how often in the early 30's background music was shunned for moments of suspense. We're left with a large number of silent scenes of Blondell just wandering around. It doesn't help that there are a lot of head scratching red herrings that don't add up later, or that despite being the heroine, the whole mystery is solved by screaming at the right place in the right time.

    Bacon could be a good director, but I don't think he hit his stride until halfway into the Pre-Code era.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. That's totally my fault. I mixed up my words and yes I know the difference between the two. But you didn't have to be so rude about it. I'm only human. I make mistakes.


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