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Hollywood Stadium Mystery
Hollywood Stadium Mystery
Actors: Neil Hamilton, Evelyn Venable, Jimmy Wallington, Barbara Pepper, Lucien Littlefield
Director: David Howard
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     1hr 6min

A boxing match at the Hollywood Stadium turns into a gripping murder mystery with over 2,000 suspects! As top contender Ace Cummings prepares to take on Madison, the reigning champ, Madison, the house lights dim. Suddenly,...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Neil Hamilton, Evelyn Venable, Jimmy Wallington, Barbara Pepper, Lucien Littlefield
Director: David Howard
Creators: Ernest Miller, Edward Mann, Armand Schaefer, Dorrell McGowan, Stuart E. McGowan, Stuart Palmer
Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/25/2005
Original Release Date: 02/21/1938
Theatrical Release Date: 02/21/1938
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 6min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY
Reviewed on 5/11/2011...
Neil Hamilton is best-known to fans of a certain age as the Police Chief in the 1960s TV show Batman. He plays a DA, apparently without homicide detectives on his large metro police force, who investigates the complicated murder of a boxer just before a title fight. Instead of the gentleman amateur detective horning in on the case, the buttinsky is a lady mystery writer, played by the breath-taking Evelyn Venable, notable as the model and voice for the Blue Fairy in Disney’s Pinocchio.

Anyway, DA and writer trade wisecracks and quips in interplay that brings to mind, but does not surpass, Nick and Nora. The secondary female parts are played the Lynne Roberts, a brunette cutie, and Barbara Pepper a brassy flashy blonde. Other attractions are the large number of sets (one an apartment as big as a ballroom), parade of characters, and fashionable clothes that make us wonder what colors they could have been. The spectacle – more lavish than the usual B-movie - distracts us, mercifully, from the thin mystery and flimsy reveal of the culprit and his motives.

A fun way to pass an hour. See Evelyn Venable before she went back to university, got a doctorate, and became a classics professor at UCLA.

Movie Reviews

"'The acrid odor of bitter almonds' - say, that sounds all r
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 10/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Hollywood Stadium is playing host to a big time championship prize fight, and the crowd's in a frenzy. Moments before the match is underway, the house lights are dimmed. When the lights go back on, arrogant boxer Ace Cummings continues to sit on his stool, but murdered in the ring. Now, whodunit? Is it the actor whose eye Ace had blackened? Or the two girlfriends he had dropped? What about that night's ring opponent? Or the shifty gambler? Geez, is it the popular comic Smiley Burnette? With 2000 people in attendance, there's certainly no lacking in suspects. Debonair district attorney Bill Devons (Neil Hamilton) and clever mystery writer Polly Ward (Evelyn Venable), both of whom in the film's opening minutes engage in a smilingly contentious first encounter, more or less team up to solve the case. But it's a tumultuous partnership as things like flirting, their friendly rivalry, and 5 dollar wagers keep getting in the way. Then a second corpse surfaces.

HOLLYWOOD STADIUM MYSTERY is a nifty little black-and-white whodunit which came out in 1938. At 53 minutes, it sets a no-nonsense pace; the film is over before you know it. The mystery's perplexing enough, but it's the two leads who truly elevate this modest B picture. Neil Hamilton - who would later play Commissioner Gordon in the 1966 Batman series - and lanky, lovely brunette Evelyn Venable do it up right as the dueling sleuths. Their back and forth patter is snappy and handily delivered, and, really, Hamilton and Venable's chemistry is so solid that their getting together at the end is a foregone conclusion. And, as an added bonus, the mystery is solved (and, no, the killer isn't Smiley Burnette).

Released by Republic Pictures, HOLLYWOOD STADIUM MYSTERY proves that, with taut execution, crackling dialogue, and proper casting, even a film from Poverty Row can do more than hold its own. The dvd quality, as rendered by Alpha Video, is decent - oh, a few crackles in the audio and the image could be sharper, but, nevertheless, decent. And, with no other dvd versions out there (that I know of), this one works nicely enough. Anyway, do yourself a favor and don't pass up this little murder mystery."
Surprisingly Enjoyable
Belize Traveller | North Carolina | 04/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I usually don't expect too much from Alpha Video public domain releases, but this little 1938 jewel proved an exception. It's a surprisingly taut, creatively directed and funny mystery featuring a real charmer, Evelyn Venable, as the leading lady.

Right from the titles -- delivery trucks drop bundles of newspapers with the actors and other necessaries presented in the headlines (sounds hackneyed, but the way it's handled here it's not) -- and the first few moments of the movie, when you're misled into thinking a play is part of the plot, you know this is more than your average B movie.

The film shrivels and fizzles a bit as it goes along, but there are plenty of juicy moments and enough wit and humor to keep you interested.

Evelyn Venable has a throaty, three-dimensional voice you'll never forget. One wonders why she never made it to big-time stardom.

Neil Hamilton, as a dorky DA, does a workmanlike job but nothing more.

At the price Amazon is charging, this is one of the great B&W bargains from the 1930s. I've already watched it a half dozen times.

--Lan Sluder

From the "squared circle" directly into a rectangular box
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 02/10/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"HOLLYWOOD STADIUM MYSTERY (1938) is simply one of the best second unit pictures I've seen in a very long time. Acting is uniformly fine by all. This REPUBLIC programmer has enough of a budget to avoid falling into cheese. Scripting by the McGowan brothers is spot-on, with just the right amount of colloquialisms for spice. Honestly, there's little wrong with this attention-holding production.

In fact, the viewer is grabbed at the start by some creative opening credits, then a rain-soaked creep in a freakish mask who climbs through a window out of the night and into a room occupied by a man with one arm in a sling. This is only the first of many red herrings in a murder mystery of the finest quality.

Sophisticated Neil Hamilton, who in his white hair years played Commissioner Gordon on TV's BATMAN, makes a handsomely debonair lead as D.A. Bill Devons. His co-star, Evelyn Venable may be best remembered as the voice of the Blue Fairy in Walt Disney's PINOCCHIO (1940). After retiring from films, Mss Venable taught Greek and Latin at UCLA for many decades. Here she's 'Polly' Ward, a mystery novelist who's ringside witness to the cyanide murder of a contending boxer.

Writer and D.A. compete to solve this crime, playfully challenging each other with five buck bets. That lone bill keeps changing hands throughout the story and you just know that ultimately two of it will be spent on a marriage license!

A curious cameo from Republic's sidekick of the moment, Smiley Burnette. His career began in vaudeville, where Smiley played a "little piano." Climbing into the ring, Mr. Burnette entertains the crowd with a brief race car bit, a definite precursor of Doodles Weaver's "Feitelbaum" with Spike Jones & his City Slickers.

Also seen is Reed Hadley, the later star of TV's RACKET SQUAD and THE PUBLIC DEFENDER. Finally, don't blink or you'll miss Yakima Canutt's news photographer walk-on.

BTW-- this movie is highly recommended!

ALPHA VIDEO offers bargain priced, often hard-to-find vintage movies that are ideal for those willing to skip DVD extras. Their transfers show no evidence of restoration, so quality varies from one title to the next, with "fair to good" being the average. This one happens to be of good quality."