The Bridge of Sighs (1936)
Director: Phil Rosen
Cast: Onslow Stevens, Dorothy Tree, Jack La Rue
Synopsis: A woman confesses to murder to save her brother from the charge.
The Bridge of Sighs is a bridge that spans the distance between the courtroom and its neighbouring prison in this tepid and overly-complicated B-Movie, but it plays absolutely no part in the movie’s story. In fact, el-cheapo production company Invincible would have been equally justified in calling this The Leaning Tower of Pisa or Space Station 7 considering their chosen title’s total irrelevance to the events depicted. We’ll stick with The Bridge of Sighs, though — it’s their movie after all.
Onslow Stevens plays Jeff Powell an Assistant District Attorney who is at a nightclub with his girlfriend, Marion (Dorothy Tree) when a shooting takes place. Harry West (Paul Fix — Dr. Cyclops, Mail Order Bride) is quickly apprehended, even though he doesn’t have a gun, but circumstantial evidence is enough to have him committed for trial, where he’s prosecuted by Stevens. During the trial, a woman named Evelyn Thane (Mary Doran) claims that West thrust the murder weapon into her hands before running off and she put it in her purse in a panic. This piece of evidence is damning enough to do for West, but it also earns Evelyn a one-to-five stretch as an accessory after the fact.
Powell’s girl Marion has some mysterious connection to West which becomes apparent to Powell when he sees her in discussion with West’s defence team during the trial. After the trial, Mary leaves him a note saying she’s going away. Powell thinks she’s going somewhere to be away from him, but she’s actually going undercover as a prisoner in the same prison in which Evelyn is being held in an attempt to get to the truth about just who committed the murder.
How the hell Marion manages to get herself put inside — under a fake name, no less — is beyond me, and also beyond the powers of screenwriter Arthur T. Horman who simply doesn’t bother to provide any kind of explanation. Not only does she get placed in the same prison as Evelyn, she’s also put in the very same cell. And what a cell it is! Spacious, roomy, comfy beds — it looks more inviting than a Premier Inn. Such lazy writing pretty much sums up The Bridge of Sighs, which pretty much sees a 64-minute slot and decides to put in whatever is necessary to fill the slot. The plot becomes increasingly difficult to follow (even though it shouldn’t) and involves too many characters as it grows progressively more far-fetched. The production values are zero, but that’s forgivable given the Povert Row status of the production company, but the story should at least follow a logical progression and have at least some basis in reality.
(Reviewed 23rd April 2014)