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This was co-directed by the great set designer William Cameron Menzies, who had a fantastic, if erratic career. In the early 1930s he made a trio of magic-themed thrillers for Fox, this being the first, the next being the superior Chandu the Magician and the third being Trick for Trick, directed by Hamilton McFadden.
The Spider is a decent film that basically involves a murder by gunshot in a theater of patrons watching a magic act performed by Chartrand the Great, played by a solid Edmond Lowe. How someone sitting next to the murderer would not notice the gun going off is implausibly absurd, to say the least. It would be forgivable if there was a plot. It involves a woman who goes to a magic show to see if her missing brother is Chartrand's amnesiac assistant, whom he is. Her hateful uncle, who previously tried to do away with the brother is the man who is murdered. Her brother, naturally, is the prime suspect.
The suspense is missing, but the style is excellent. Much low-key lighting and some terrific magic act sets make this worthwhile. It does pale in comparison to similar thrillers of the period as the mystery is so random and thin that it really brings the film down. Worth the time, though, of any 30s mystery film aficionados.
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