Plot: Michael Shayne (Hugh Beaumont) is back on another case, this time tasked to locate the missing stepdaughter of Burton Stallings (Gordon Richards), a high profile local pillar of the community. The case would be a tough one to crack under any circumstances, but of course, Shayne finds himself in one tight spot after another, as the situation proves to be even more complicated than expected. Before he can even really get started on the case, Stallings himself turns up dead and as always, police leader Rafferty (Ralph Dunn) believes that Shayne was responsible for the murder. He might used to Rafferty’s wild accusations by now, but Shayne still has to push forward, find the real killer, find Stalling’s stepdaughter, and clear his name, all while working to stay one step ahead of Rafferty and the police.
Entertainment Value: Hugh Beaumont returns for his second turn as ace detective Michael Shayne in a brisk, enjoyable murder mystery that holds interest from start to finish. The narrative here is quite solid, crafting a mystery that has some nice twists and turns, but doesn’t become convoluted or overrun with red herrings. I don’t mind a wild mystery of course, but Larceny in Her Heart’s straight forward, competent approach works quite well also. I can see how it might not dazzle some viewers, but the story does what it is needs to do and does so with capable skill, while delivering thrills and some character driven entertainment to boot. To do all that in under 70 minutes is impressive, as it requires efficient use of those limited minutes and a good amount of focus, both of which this movie has. The production values are competent, though obviously not as slick or polished as higher profile films, though the lower budget, gritty feel does work in the movie’s favor in some ways. I had fun with Larceny in Her Heart and fans of old school detective yarns likely will as well.
This would be the second of five appearances as Michael Shayne for Hugh Beaumont, who is a more than capable choice to lead this stretch of the series. He was already experienced in the detective genre and I think he is once again able to convey the grit needed, but also the charm and sense of humor. Shayne is known for snappy lines and being a thorn in the side of not so competent police officers, traits Beaumont is able to play up, while remaining likable. He is required to get very serious in this installment as well, as the asylum sequences up the dramatic elements and again, Beaumont is more than up to the task. Those scenes prove to be the most memorable of the picture and have some chilling touches, at least from my perspective. Ralph Dunn is back as Shayne’s ever present critic Rafferty, while Cheryl Walker is back as Phyllis, so it is nice to have returning faces for this sequel. The cast also includes Gordon Richards, Charles C. Wilson, and Paul Bryar.
The Disc: This movie has been restored for this release by ClassicFlix, who also restored and collected the rest of Beaumont’s Michael Shayne films. So you can grab all five of these lesser seen mysteries in one package, with all five given impressive clean-ups to help them shine. The print here is good condition and the restoration work is evident right from the jump, as there’s little debris or damage to be seen. If you reference the included restoration comparison, you can see the night and day difference, with the black & visuals fine tuned to terrific results. ClassicFlix did some great work on this collection, without question.
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