Crime By Night (1944) Plays Like a Miles Archer Mystery
Warners released nineteen features in 1944, of
which three were B's. The reason for cutback was company emphasis on longer
runs for A product, it being not unusual for urban spots to hold these a month
or more to packed attendance. The wartime boom had most to do with that; thanks to rationing of food and goods, what was left to occupy home-fronters
but movies? Crime By Night might be subtitled The Further Adventures Of Miles
Archer, for here is The MalteseFalcon's Jerome Cowan again as a private dick on murder's trail. Cowan
was capable and might have been groomed as a breezier Bogart based on previous Find
The Blackmailer and this, but it was the women who'd foretell stardom ahead.
Jane Wyman, Eleanor Parker, and Faye Emerson graduated soon to A's, and in
fact, had done so by Crime's delayedrelease (note Wyman's elevated billing on the one-sheet). The pic was shot eighteen months
earlier, but held so war subjects could play off. Light (budget) mystery
was carryover staple from 30's mayhem with cocktails that characterized Thin
Men, Philo Vance, other series sleuths, but harder edge of noir detecting would
assert with Murder, My Sweet, released a few months after Crime By Night and
changing forever the thriller landscape.