AKA FACE THE MUSIC
AVAILABLE ON R1 DVD
RUNNING TIME: 84 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Famous American trumpet player James ‘Brad’ Bradley is touring the UK. After his first show in London he begins to walk to his hotel and finds himself drawn into a nightclub by the sound of a singer. The sister is Maxine Halbard, and the two immediately connect. After spending most of the night talking at her apartment, they agree to meet again the following night, but the police awake him in his bed with the news that Maxine is dead, and Brad is a prime suspect, especially as he left his trumpet at her apartment….
This routine murder mystery with a few film noir elements like the hero narrating, starts promisingly but actually gets weaker as it goes on, concluding with the already really hackneyed device of all the main characters present in a room so the killer can be unmasked, in lieu of a more exciting climax, and certainly not particularly well done here. The first meeting of Brad and Maxine is nicely done, he being lured into the club by her singing like a sailor to a siren call and immediately playing his trumpet in accompaniment, and the two spouting rhyming couplets as they get to know each other is certainly unusual. Once she is murdered though, much of the film consists of slightly dull plodding around as Brad’s investigations bring him into contact with Maxine’s sister, various folk involved in the music industry and even a mysterious LP that the pianist denies ever having made. Though it’s easy to work some of it out, the plot is certainly quite interesting, set as it in the world of underground jazz clubs and recording studios, though the device of having our hero barely have any sleep over a few days doesn’t work because star Alex Nicol, a pleasant if slightly bland lead, never convinces the viewer of the fact, especially when he wins two brief fights.
There’s some light relief in the form of Brad’s constantly exasperated manager Max ‘Maxie’ Margulies which eventually wears thin, though the film has a few good hard-boiled lines dotted throughout its script courtesy of screenwriter Ernest Bornemen, who adapted his own novel. Walter J. Harvey’s cinematography, as usual, makes effective use of black and gives us a few decent noir-ish shots, and there’s a couple of odd shots taken from the point of view of Brad where the camera flutters, presumably to give the impression of Brad blinking. The largely big band soundtrack, written by Ivor Slaney and popular band leader Kenny Baker who appears in the scenes where Brad plays in the Palladium theatre, is decent. The Black Glove is a reasonable, workmanlike exercise that is never actually boring, but never gets anywhere near as good as it should do.