Saturday, June 18, 2011


One stormy night, police inspector Ralph Bellamy is called to the mansion of millionaire William Jeffery. There is a family superstition that the appearance of a pool of blood on the fireplace hearth means the patriarch of the family will soon die, and this evening the blood has appeared. Just before midnight, lightning strikes, the lights go out, and the windows in the study fly open. Jeffrey indeed drops dead in a roomful of people, apparently of fright, but an autopsy shows that he was poisoned via hypodermic. The suspects include his faithful secretary (Claude Gillingwater), with whom Jeffrey had spent that past several years in China collecting curios, the secretary's somewhat mysterious-acting wife, and the lawyer who is caught breaking into Jeffrey's safe. Jeffrey had a young ward (June Collyer) whom he dearly loved but who was hoping to marry the family doctor, against Jeffrey's wishes. Eventually, another murder is committed and a couple of people are revealed to be not who they say they are before Bellamy and his sidekick (George Cooper) eventually solve the murder. This is a nicely atmospheric little thriller, not quite spooky enough to be considered an "old dark house" movie but still quite fun. Bellamy, before he found his niche as the dopey best friend in romantic comedies, is fine as the detective, and Cooper and Gillingwater are standouts in the supporting cast. [TCM]

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