As everyone who reads the popular magazines must know, "Lady in the Lake" is something new in movies. You're meant to identify yourself with a private detective through whose eyes you see the picture. If you have the misfortune to succeed, you'll wriggle when you hear yourself (Robert Montgomery) emitting hideous belly-laughs, tossing off smug wisecracks, and kissing a woman who can contort her mouth as if it were a landed cel. But the chances are you won't identify yourself with any body.
Besides the point of view, which is different, if nothing else, there is nothing novel about "Lady in the Lake." The plot is old hat of the most battered variety, involving, in addition to the immersed female who is never fished out for the edification of the audience, a gentleman stone dead in a shower and the hero (you) half dead and half drowned in whiskey in a wrecked automobile. There are moments of suspense, that are given a refreshing new dimension by the point of view, but they fail to save the picture from a dreariness that is enhanced by indifferent acting by everyone but Montgomery and one minor character.
Aside from "Lady in the Lake's" intrinsic worth, Robert Montgomery deserves a pat on the back for breaking away from Hollywood formula method. It is a pity he chose the most conventional of movie plots, and so could not make the novelty and the frequent nice touches rise above the sluggishness of the whole. The camera eye technique clearly has possibilities in movies that are naturally suited to subjectivity, but in the old missing-woman and private cop hash, it is at best incongruous.