Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Ayn Rand's Broadway stage hit The Night of January 16th was distinguished by a clever gimmick, wherein members of the audience sat in the jury box while a fictional murder trial was conducted: the outcome of the play was thus totally in the hands of the spectators, and accordingly Rand penned two different endings, depending on whether the jury voted "guilty" or "not guilty". This marvelous theatrical device was unfortunately absent in the film version of Night of January 16th, which was also hampered by a B-grade budget. Even so, the story, concerning the murder trial of stenographer Kit Lane (Ellen Drew), moves along swiftly and entertainingly. Accused of killing her employer, financier Bjorn Faulkner (Nils Asther), Kit is championed by wisecracking sailor-on-leave Steve Van Ruyle (Robert Preston), who has a vested interest in the outcome of the trial. As was typical of the Paramount B product of the time, Night of January 16th spotlights several established contract players (Drew, Preston et.al.), along with a number of actors on the way up (Rod Cameron, Margaret Hayes) and the way down (Nils Asther, Alice White).
evidence-circumstantial, false-accusation, innocence, investigation, investing, killing, murder, secretary