Film Noir : Whodunit thread November 2016

Re: The Thirteenth Chair (1930s)

The Thirteenth Chair (1930s)...

....I've enjoyed this film a few times now. Another isolated house mystery, but this time, a medium plays a big part in determining who killed a man. During the seance, another person is murdered and someone who is close (personally) to the medium is the prime suspect.

There is also a late 1920s version, which I had some trouble getting through and which I really only finished because of the excellent performance by Bela Lugosi, who plays the inspector.

This is certainly a case where a later version is better than an earlier version of the story. (To my knowledge, the original - a silent film from 1919 - is lost.)

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

The Cat and the Canary (1920s, 1930s)

I'm watching two versions of The Cat and the Canary tonight - the silent 1920s version and the 1930s talkie. Both are very enjoyable in their own way.

In each case, there is an isolated house, a will that finally needs to be read, an heir/heiress who is in grave danger, a secret passage, etc. Definitely worth a look!

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: The Cat and the Canary (1920s, 1930s)

I really need to see the silent version. I like the creepy look of Martha Mattox as Mammy Pleasant in the stills that I have seen.

The 1939 version is one of my favourite black comedies. I like Gale Sondergaard as the housekeeper who I suppose is the Mammy Pleasant counterpart character from the earlier film.

Re: The Cat and the Canary (1920s, 1930s)

That's correct about the two housekeepers. They are essentially the same character.

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Midnight Faces (1926)

Midnight Faces (1926):

an early (and silent) isolated house whodunit. I haven't seen it in a couple of years. I'll be starting it right away.

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

The Spiral Staircase (1940s)

The Spiral Staircase (1940s)...

...an old fave of mine. It's also an isolated house story. In this case, a serial killer is on the loose, targeting females with physical disabilities. Very gothic and atmospheric.

The leading lady also starred in the radio play version of this story. Playing a mute girl on a radio play couldn't have been easy, but she pulled it off quite nicely.

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: The Spiral Staircase (1940s)

'Spiral Staircase' is one of my favourite creepy old house movies. I would like to hear how Dorothy McGuire got round playing a mute girl on the radio.

I like the way that there were radio versions of 1940s movies. The only ones that I have heard to date is a couple recorded adaptations of 'The Uninvited' which is another favourite of the creepy house genre.

Re: The Spiral Staircase (1940s); radio plays

Unfortunately, I can't remember which show that radio play is a part of. I always listen to radio plays on archive.org. However, a search for The Spiral Staircase (radio play) on youtube might get you results.

On archive.org, I heard several radio plays based on film thrillers:

Laura (shortened script of the film, with most of the film actors starring in the radio play, too)

Sorry Wrong Number - the film is based on a radio play starring Agnes Moorehead. Later, the film script was shortened and recorded for radio, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers - a very shortened version of the film.

I think I also heard the radio play The Uninvited. I can't remember.

There's also a half-hour radio play The Best Years of Our Lives (obviously not a thriller).

Some of my faves are part of the Suspense series, written by John Dickson Carr.
Peter Lorre stars in two of them.

If you want to hear an inverted mystery with a brilliant ending, look up Want Ad (part of Suspense). Of all the ways that a criminal gets trapped in an inverted mystery, this one's my personal fave. Very highly recommended!

The radio play Sorry Wrong Number was written by Lucille Fletcher. Another Lucille Fletcher-Agnes Moorehead collaboration is the brilliant radio play The Diary of Sophoronia Winters. Terrific ending!

And one that's set in the Canadian wilderness: A Terrible Night, part of The Weird Circle series.

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: The Spiral Staircase (1940s); radio plays

I would love to hear the radio plays that you mentioned especially Peter Lorre in the 'Suspense' plays. I've heard that he can be heard singing from some other old radio programs.

Two radio plays of 'The Uninvited' were done, both with Ray Milland, in 1944 and 1949. Ruth Hussey is in the 1944 version of them.

Re: radio plays

From Suspense (written by John Dickson Carr and starring Peter Lorre):

Till Death Do Us Part

The Devil's Saint


I absolutely adore those two radio plays!

Another great one from Suspense (also written by Carr):

Will You Make a Bet With Death?

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Suspense_Singles

Those three are near the top of the list. There's also Want Ad, which is an inverted mystery and the ending is absolutely brilliant. The crook gets what's coming to him...in the best way possible!

I think I had mentioned the one from The Weird Circle, called A Terrible Night. Brilliant story set in the Canadian wilderness.

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Weird_Circle_Singles

From Inner Sanctum, hear The Voice on the Wire. Great ending!

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Inner_Sanctum_Mysteries_Singles

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: radio plays

Thanks for the links to the radio plays available. There is an amazing wealth of actors from the Golden Age mentioned who have had at least one radio play performance.

I'm going to have to find my headphones for a listen to them. Probably beginning with Terrible Night from The Weird Circle series.

Re: radio plays

Also posted are the Ellery Queen minute mysteries. I don't have time to search for them now. Maybe later. Remind me. I gotta go soon.

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Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: the 1930s Perry Mason films

I watched a couple more of the 1930s Perry Mason films. I'd like to comment on all of them, which I have seen at least once.

The Case of the:

Howling Dog - absolutely brilliant movie. I didn't watch it tonight, but I've seen this one a number of times and I adore it. Fantastic mystery, and the adaptation is very faithful to the book (which I've read once a few years ago). This film is well paced, acted well, etc. It's not spoiled by all sorts of idiotic Thin Man-style humor.

Curious Bride - very poor, compared to Howling Dog. It's mostly spoiled by some idiotic humor which the filmmakers decided to throw into the story. I seem to recall trying to read this novel and it wasn't very interesting. I didn't bother with it tonight.

Lucky Legs - same as Curious Bride, except that I don't remember trying to read this novel. I skipped this one tonight as well.

Velvet Claws - An improvement over the last two films, although they could have left out the silly storyline about everyone getting a cold. It wasn't funny and it was certainly distracting. The story is decent enough, as is the book (which I've read). Mind you, I think it's much weaker than Howling Dog (which is likely Gardner's Perry Mason masterpiece). Interesting ending. I enjoyed watching this tonight.

Black Cat - Another one which I watched tonight. This time, Ricardo Cortez replaced Warren William as Perry Mason, and he did a good job in the role. This one's an interesting story. I would rank this as the second best in the series, but it's not nearly as interesting as Howling Dog (which is probably one of the best mystery stories ever written). Still, I like the complex ending of Black Cat. It reminds me a bit of The Kennel Murder Case.

Stuttering Bishop - I've seen this one once and found it very dull. I skipped it tonight. I don't even remember who the leading actor is in this one.

So I enjoyed both Velvet Claws and Black Cat tonight. I think it's the first time in two or three years that I've seen those movies. Very unlikely that I'll ever see Lucky Legs and Curious Bride again.

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Three from the 1930s:

Three from the 1930s:

Murder on the Campus (1933): a female college student is the prime suspect in several murders. A journalist, who is in love with her, decides to try to solve the case. Enjoyable movie.

Murder in the Museum (1934): a murder takes place at an event which is more of a 14-A rated show rather than a museum, and the real killer has to be found. I admit that, a couple of times now, I've had trouble getting through this film.

Murder by Television (1935): an interesting look at very, very early television. A man is murdered while speaking on television. Always nice to see Bela Lugosi on the big screen.

I've enjoyed a number of retro-1930s mysteries, but it's also nice to see mysteries which were released in the 1930s - not just for the plots, but also for the genuine clothing, hairdos, and scenery of the time. No anachronisms. I know that some folks don't care about this, but I'm kinda fussy about this issue.

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

a couple more from the 1930s...........

Two more from the 30s, with newspaper reporters as main characters:

Murder With Pictures (1936): I admit that this one didn't appeal to me as much as it did when I last saw it a few years ago.

The 13th Man (1937): This one's a great whodunit about an announcer who is about to reveal who killed a certain man. Before he gets the chance to do so on the air, he is murdered. It's up to a newspaper reporter to figure out which of the suspects is the culprit.

For these 1930s mysteries, check their IMDb home pages to see if the movie is posted there. It is, in some cases.


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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

...and one more 1930s film.....

It's late, but I'm watching the 1932 mystery The King Murder, about a blackmailer who gets murdered. I seem to recall enjoying this one a couple of years ago, so I'm watching it again now.

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

"It Couldn't Have Happened, but it did" (1936)

It Couldn't Have Happened, but it did (1936):

I've seen this one a few times. It's a bit confusing, but fun. I like the leading actors.

Let's just say that several people and several adjoining offices are factors in a murder...

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

"Murder by the Clock" (1931)

Murder by the Clock (1931):

-- creepy house and tomb/vault

-- an old matriarch with a lot of money

-- a femme fatale

Can't go wrong with this combination.

EDIT: this film really isn't a whodunit, although it sure feels like one! I wrote more comments about this film on the film noir thread. I wanted to bring up the fact that this film has a femme fatale in it.

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Probably the last post.

Since the boards are scheduled to be disabled in a couple of weeks or so, I'll just write a few final comments for those looking for classic mysteries.

First, get to know as many of the classic mystery authors as possible. Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Mignon Eberhart, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, Stuart Palmer, Erle Stanley Gardner, Earl Derr Biggers, Stanley Ellin, John Dickson Carr, etc.

Then, look up their filmography.

Do online searches for the films, using key words like "murder" and "thirteen".

For books by these authors, don't expect to find too many in public libraries, unless the books are still in print. Try a nearby university library. If necessary, use the interlibrary loan feature where the books from these university libraries can be sent to your local library.

Good luck!

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Who Noir.

Hi,I've created a new Noir page on Reddit,details are on the post at the top of this board.

Thanks,MDF/Chris.

Re: Who Noir.

Thanks. I saw that thread. Thanks again!



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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Death on the Diamond; Hollywood Stadium Mystery

Tonight, it's:

Death on the Diamond

Hollywood Stadium Mystery


(both from the thirties)

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: a few more for the next few days

I'm hoping to watch all of the above in the next couple of days. I've seen them all before. Yup, these are from the 1930s:

Mystery Liner

Murder at Dawn

Murder at Glen Athol

The Thirteenth Guest

The Old Dark House


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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: a few more for the next few days

I think that I will share 'The Old Dark House' with you Mrs E and watch it myself. "Have a potato."

Re: a few more for the next few days



Thanks for your contributions on my thread!



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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: one more point....................

Regarding some of these films: you'll find some of them on archive.org, where you can download them legally. Check their IMDb home pages. The links to the full movies are sometimes there.

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Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦
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