Plot: Michael Shayne (Hugh Beaumont) is a skilled detective and has often cracked cases that baffled even the police, but his presence isn’t welcome by all, especially those in law enforcement. Chief Rafferty (Ralph Dunn) is a vocal critic of all private detectives, but takes a special delight in dragging Shayne through the mud and he would love to shut down his office. In fact, Rafferty makes it known that he plans to put Shayne of out business, but Shayne is occupied with a new case, one that involves blackmail, murder, and a lot of cash. As he looks into the complicated new case, one filled with family drama and lies upon lies, he somehow finds himself accused of murder, which means Rafferty might get his wish. Can Shayne not only clear his name, but solve this complex case in time or will he be put out of business and behind bars?
Entertainment Value: After a long series of films with Lloyd Nolan as Michael Shayne, Murder is My Business marks a new direction for the detective, as Hugh Beaumont steps in to kick off a five picture run. The narrative here doesn’t require you to be familiar with Shayne’s character, as it provides some quick exposition that explains that a little and establishes some basics. The mystery is a solid one and has some fun twists & turns, as well as some good character development, especially in regard to Shayne and where he fits into the world around him. The movie runs just over an hour, so it never dawdles and moves at a brisk pace, though it also doesn’t feel rushed and as I said, invests some time to provide some small scale depth. In short, Murder is My Business serves as a capable introduction or re-introduction to Michael Shayne, getting you reeled into his world well for both this picture and the sequels to follow. That’s a tough order in any situation, but especially with such a brief run time, while also delivering a competent mystery in the process. I had fun with this one and for old school detective yarn fans, Murder is My Business is recommended.
This might have been Hugh Beaumont’s first appearance as Michael Shayne, but he leaps into the role with enthusiasm and delivers an enjoyable performance. Beaumont is likely best known for his work on Leave It To Beaver, but he was an accomplished performer long before that popular television series. He had some experience in mysteries even before he stepped into the shoes of Shayne and it shows, as he seems at ease in the genre and in the role of a detective. I think he not only makes the most of the moments the script gives him to shine, but elevates some of the lesser exchanges, using his presence to punch up some lines. This makes the dialogue one of the film’s bright spots, as he is able to deliver the snappier lines with skill and give Shayne some attitude, not to mention some grit when called on. Ralph Dunn is fun to watch as the police chief who dislikes Shayne with a passion, while Cheryl Walker appears in the first of what would be three turns in this run of Shayne pictures. The cast also includes Lyle Talbot, Pierre Watkin, and Richard Keene.
The Disc: This movie was released on DVD by ClassicFlix, as part of The Complete PRC Michael Shayne Mystery Collection, which includes all five of Beaumont’s appearances as the famous detective. The movies have been given extensive restorations and it shows, as the prints look much improved and overall visual presence is rock solid. A few signs of debris and age are evident, but if you reference the restoration comparison on the disc, you can see what a world of difference was made. The black & white visuals show good detail and clarity, which is fantastic news, since these movies have been so hard to track down for decades.