The Missing Juror is a fun little whodunnit that finds reporter Joe Keats on the case, looking to solve a mystery where the jurors in one particular trial are being killed off before all twelve of them meet an untimely end. Doing so, he follows the facts and a couple of leads that might end up with him being hurt or in jail, but Keats is nothing if not tenacious and the prospect of a great story rearing its head is something that he cannot ignore.
Jim Bannon stars as reporter Keats and he is not only magnetic as the lead, but the man bringing a lot of energy to the role and balancing the material which ranges from crime drama to light comedy at times quite well. The case is a strange one and Keats tends to believe that it might be the head juror that is killing off his fellow members, but when all is said and done, another villain stands revealed. When one factors in the short running time combined with the mystery present, it all makes for some compelling viewing with the movie never wasting any time or making the viewer feel like it might be longer than it is.
With a wonderful supporting cast including Janis Carter, Jean Stevens and Joseph Crehan among them, the film might not feature any big names, but each brings a little something special to the picture to make for a good time as they interact with Bannon’s character. Sparring for the attention of the audience is George Macready as the main baddie, the man originally convicted at the aforementioned trial and a man that was seen to be broken. Doing what he does, Macready does indeed have to be somewhat fractured a little and eventually he meets his end, but not before giving one of the film’s best performances.
Directed by Budd Boetticher, originally credited as Oscar Boetticher Jr., it is not what anyone would call an innovative film, what with it falling solidly in the B category and the story being somewhat normal for the genre, but there are some great shots featured within and it makes for a very moody picture at times, which considering the material, is more than appropriate. That being said, it never lingers in the dark, always heading back up to the light and back into comedic territory.
Short, compact and commanding, The Missing Juror is great viewing from start to finish.
3.5 out of 5