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There come times in the lives of men when a dark, blood-curdling murder mystery is apropos. Those who at the witching hour huddle by the fireside in wide-eyed horror over the ghastly crimes solved by Philo Vance, those who feel terror grip their hearts in an astringent grasp at the shriek of an assassinated courtesan, they will enjoy the "Phantom of Crestwood." It abounds in all the paraphernalia of state grisliness, madmen, midnight murders, death masks, mobsters, and money musk.
The movie has all the conventional dramatic machinery of its type, the amateur detective, the blameless hero and heroine upon whom suspicion falls, a psychopathic murderer, and to say more would give the plot away. Sherlock Holmes probably stirs uneasily in his grave when productions of this kind are made, but he need not be too disturbed, for the play makes no pretense of being more than it is.
Joan Blondell is advertised as "the girl who knows all the answers," so she is probably informed on the question of just how flat her work can fall. "Big City Blucs" demonstrates the answer plainly. It resorts to the old device, a frame plot: to point the theme, which is the glamour of a metropolis, the cinema is "framed" with opening and closing scenes of provincial simplicity. The work of Miss Blondell and of Mr. Eric Linden is mediocre, and the theme is worked up cheaply and unimaginatively.
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