Tuesday, September 08, 2015


This film has nothing to do with the pulp fiction hero The Shadow, aka Lamont Cranston. Instead, it's an early sound "old dark house" B-mystery from England, and more enjoyable than the Lamont Cranston movies I've seen. A sinister figure known only as The Shadow has been blackmailing famous people, leading to a string of suicides of people (a movie star, a financier, a politician) who can't pay his price. Elliot, a Scotland Yard man, tries to con the Shadow by posing as someone who wants to sell him some incriminating letters, but their meeting ends with Elliot shot dead. Found in Elliot's hand is a small charm of a closed fist, the only physical clue the police have. That weekend, Sir Richard, the head of Scotland Yard, has a small house party, and Inspector Fleming, who worked on tracing the charm, thinks the Shadow might be drawn to Sir Richard's to get the charm back. Staying at the house that foggy Friday night: Sir Richard's flighty aunt, his lovely daughter Sonia, her sturdy fiancĂ©e Beverley, and an eccentric mystery novelist named Reggie who is the absolute stereotype of an upper-class British twit. Stopping by later is a stranded motorist named Jim and his sister Moya, who we know are not what they claim to be—Jim has some kind score from the past to settle with Sir Richard. There's also the butler who is spotted letting a suspicious figure in through a window. When Inspector Fleming is shot just as he's about to say who he thinks the Shadow is, Inspector Carr arrives with his men, having to deal with 1) Reggie trying to be helpful; 2) the aunt being nervous; 3) finding out that Sonia thinks the mysterious charm looks familiar, and 4) discovering that the key to the safe where the charm is being kept has gone missing.

Undoubtedly a "quota quicke," made to satisfy a law requiring that a certain percentage of movies shown in Great Britain be British productions, this low-budget mystery is great fun. It's paced well, with few slow sections, and the actors all acquit themselves nicely. The only actors in the cast that I'm familiar with are Elizabeth Allan as Sonia and Feliz Aylmer as Sir Richard. The standout is Henry Kendall (pictured above) as the goofy Reggie, though as with much comic relief, some may get their fill of his twittering inanities earlier than others. He calls everyone "Old bean" or "Old thing," event when they ask him not to. There are some witty one-liners and though the film is rather stagy—the bulk of it happens on just a couple of sets—it generally doesn't feel static. There are a couple of plotholes, and given the identity of the Shadow, the film doesn't play fair in at least one scene, but all's well that ends well. Enjoyable. [YouTube]

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

The British Quota Quickies get a bad press but it's surprising how many of them are actually quite entertaining, and within their budgetary constraints quite well-made.