Review: S. Sylvan Simon’s “Grand Central Murder,” Starring Van Heflin

Tom Conway, Van Heflin, and Cecilia Parker in
Tom Conway, Van Heflin, and Cecilia Parker in "Grand Central Murder"

After the profitable Kid Glove Killer, Van Heflin was cast in another murder mystery story—Grand Central Murder. The actor plays private detective Rocky Custer, who gets caught up in the investigation of the death of starlet Mida King (Patricia Dane) on a train car in Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, a promising premise isn’t enough to distinguish this from any other cheap crime story, even with an actor like Heflin on board.

In the fashion of Murder on the Orient Express, a whole group of suspects are rounded up together as the puzzle pieces are put together to solve the crime. Mida’s maid, an ex-husband, her producer, an understudy, and more characters really overwhelm the story. Peter Ruric’s adaptation of the source material—a novel by Sue MacVeigh—relies heavily on flashbacks, with suspect after suspect recounting what they know to the detective (Sam Levene).

Director S. Sylvan Simon does a decent enough job making everything cohere, but there are ultimately so many twists that it becomes tedious, and Heflin, easily the most compelling performer of the bunch, doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. Then again, it’s only seventy-three minutes long, so none of these factors come as a surprise from this short, cheap MGM B movie.

Where to Watch

Rent it on iTunes / Amazon

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For More on Grand Central Murder

Read the review in The New York Times

Watch the Trailer