In Need of a Touch Up
Stage star Valerie Stanton (Rosalind Russell - Sister Kenny) has met a new man Michael Morrell (Leo Genn) and so is determined to break up with her producer and lover Gordon Dunning (Leon Ames). But with Gordon refusing to let her go and makes a grab for her, in the heat of the moment she kills him with a statue. Having crept away in shock and returned home Valerie thinks about how things got so bad as Gordon manipulated her life and career. The following day it is Gordon's former lover Marian Webster (Claire Trevor - Farewell My Lovely) who is the police's chief suspect or is Captain Danbury (Sydney Greenstreet) just being clever.
Whilst "The Velvet Touch" starts with the accidental murder of Gordon the entire first half of the movie is a flashback, focusing on how things got so heated between Valerie and Gordon. It is interesting enough as we have various elements from Valerie's career to Gordon's desperate feelings for her as well as those of Marian who feels that Valerie stole him from her. The thing is that whilst interesting it is sort of a let down as it takes up almost half of the movie and for me is drawn own taking too long to establish several important elements.
Fortunately the 2nd half of the movie is where it starts to get good as we are introduced to the cunning Captain Danbury as he starts his investigation into the murder and seems to be toying with Valerie. But again I have a problem with this half as well as whilst we have this aspect of Danbury toying with Valerie there is no desperation on Valerie's part. It just feels like her character is just letting things happen, hoping on good luck to keep her out of jail rather than by being clever. Although there is a nice twist to all this when it comes to Valerie's relationship with Morrell.
The good news is that whilst the story to "The Velvet Touch" didn't do much for me the performances did. Supporting performances from Leon Ames, Leo Genn and Claire Trevor are all solid whilst Sydney Greenstreet brings a touch of humour to proceedings as Captain Danbury. But the star of the movie is Rosalind Russell whose performance as a stage star is entertaining, be it the over the top theatrics of her personality to the equally over the top shiftiness when Danbury starts investigating.
What this all boils down to is that "The Velvet Touch" is a rather ordinary murder mystery spoiled mainly by too much back story. But it has a nice collection of performances which end up the real attraction.