|Index||8 reviews in total|
Detective Cornish goes to visit his friend Dr Walcott at a swanky
hotel. Walcott has found something that Cornish would find interesting,
a human ear bone in his fireplace. As Walcott is standing the window he
suddenly collapses. Cornish calls for a doctor who arrives and tells
Cornish that his friend collapsed from the heat, and that the blood on
his forehead was from the fall. Something doesn't seem right and when
the pair tries to investigate someone again takes a shot at the good
doctor. With that the detective and the doctor are plunged head long
into a mystery that the owners don't want them to know anything about.
From the opening minutes this movie grabs you and pulls you in. Just what in the heck is going on here? You have to know, as mystery is added to mystery and layer is piled on layer you really do want to get to the bottom of things. Certainly things take a strange turn or two, but in this case make it even more intriguing. This is a great little thriller.
The question I want to know is why this film isn't better known since its a dynamite way to spend an hour. William "Stage" Boyd makes a great detective and Hooper Atchley as Dr Walcott is simply a great deal of fun. Not only is the mystery really mysterious, you have some truly frightening scenes toward the end as the dead seem not to be so dead after all.These are the sort of thing you'd expect in a horror film not a mystery film, certainly not one that isn't an old dark house. (You may want to keep the lights on during the second half of the film)
See this movie. This is a keeper, and while you may not watch it a lot, it will be one that you hand off to friends that you'd like to turn on to a really good movie. See this movie you will enjoy it.
9 out of 10.
Supposedly based on a real incident which occurred at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This film fits into the "Pre-Code" genre, only because the "baddies" are not brought to "justice" at the end. The acting is pretty good, although I have to smile when I remember that William "Stage" Boyd was shortly afterwards involved in a famous Hollywood sex scandal, which temporarily ruined the career of William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd when his photograph was erroneously printed in a newspaper along with the scandal story; I can understand why reporters thought it was the "Hoppy" Boyd & not the "Stage" Boyd! A bit too talky at times, but an interesting film nonetheless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
William "Stage" Boyd was a stage actor who used "Stage" as his middle
name in order to avoid confusion with the already popular William Boyd
(later of Hopalong Cassidy fame). He almost wrecked Hoppy's career
because when stories started appearing about Stage Boyd's bad behaviour
- the pictures used were of the other William Boyd (Hoppy).
William "Stage" Boyd is quite good as the private investigator Bill Cornish. Someone tries to take a pot shot at Dr. Walcott (Hooper Atchley) when he is with Bill Cornish. Cornish has been showing him a special pair of glasses that can magnify objects up to a block away. All evidence points to Erich (John Harron) and his fiancée Enid Van Buren (the beautiful Claudia Dell) as being the shooters. When they catch Erich, he tells them an incredible story.
His fiancée came with her brother to stay at the Clarendon Arms. Edith is called away and when she returns the hotel deny all knowledge of her and her brother staying there. When she calls in the police she is placed in an asylum. When Erich gets her out, he starts taking pot shots at guests from the hotel to give them a warning.
The plot is almost identical to a very excellent 1950 British film called "So Long at the Fair" with Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde. The latter film is a high quality production and has a superior cast. Also setting the film during the French exposition make the story line much more believable.
There is a very scary sequence at the end of "Midnight Warning". Edith is taken to the morgue to see her brother and is locked in with the bodies - it is very blood curdling, especially seen at night.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A lacklustre conclusion mars this otherwise entertaining mystery of an
eminent neuro-surgeon (Atchley) who is shot-at through the window of
his hotel room, while catching up with old friend, who happens to be a
high profile detective (Boyd). The pair discover that the hotel
management are embroiled in an elaborate subterfuge and conspiracy
involving a woman (Dell) and her boyfriend (Harron) after Dell's unwell
brother disappears from the hotel.
Boyd, Atchley and Gordon (playing the hotel's manager and chief conspirator) are all experienced performers who deliver with the timing necessary to keep the pot boiling. Harron's sub-plot characterisation seems weakly conceived, and doesn't quite make sense, while there are a couple of plot signposts that end up in cul-de-sacs (e.g. Dell is a beneficiary to her father's supposed wealthy estate, but is it a motive?).
It's fun to follow the mystery as it unfolds, and director Bennet, for the most part, certainly manages to keep the audience guessing. The only problem with "Midnight Warning" is its failure to deliver on the promise, a muted climax that spoils the elaborate set-up with ham-fisted excuses doesn't do the remaining sixty minutes justice. A shame, because there was a decent thriller threatening to emerge.
"After a young couple and the woman's brother check into a hotel, the
brother turns up missing. While no one at the hotel seems to know where
the man is, let alone acknowledge he was even there, the woman decides
to hire an investigator to look into the matter. The investigator, his
assistant and the young couple find some strange circumstances at the
hotel, which lead them to a shocking discovery," according to the DVD
Ah it's the old vanishing relative plot. This one moves along quite nicely, thanks to writer John Thomas Neville beginning his version from an interesting angle: hotel patron Hooper Atchley (as Steven Walcott) calls upon an old friend, investigator William Boyd (as William Cornish), after finding a human ear bone in his fireplace. Then, Mr. Atchley collapses The unraveling mystery is engaging; and, the movie works as a filmed stage play.
Columbia Pictures model Claudia Dell (as Enid Van Buren) gets to play frightened in a mortuary, and Robert Harron's brother John ("Johnny" Harron, as Erich) has a good expositional scene explaining his involvement in the intrigue. Forgotten film veteran Phillips Smalley (as Dr. Bronson) is another asset. "Midnight Warning" obviously needs Alfred Hitchcock's direction, and a more satisfying conclusion (see "The Lady Vanishes").
***** Midnight Warning (11/15/32) Spencer Gordon Bennet ~ William Stage Boyd, Claudia Dell, John Harron
The Midnight Warning (1932)
* (out of 4)
Really bland mix of mystery and horror has a group staying in a hotel shocked when a member dies. It appears to be murder so a detective tries to figure out what's going on before more people turn up dead.
THE MIDNIGHT WARNING was just one of hundreds of films to deal with murders in a trapped setting. They took place in hotels, cabins, lodges, houses and various other settings and more often than not they were rather forgettable. Sometimes you'd get lucky with an interesting movie but sadly this here isn't that and in fact it's really one of the worst that I've seen from the genre.
Even at just 62 minutes the film seems to run three times as long. The biggest problem is that the acting and dialogue are just so poor that it's really hard to keep interest in anything going on. Even worse is the fact that the low-budget makes for some pretty boring scenes of people just standing around with this bad dialogue going back and forth. I will admit that the twist ending manages to throw you off and there's one good sequence where a woman is surrounded by dead bodies and hears them "speaking" to her. Still, THE MIDNIGHT WARNING is a film you can easily skip.
"Eyes of Mystery" is actually a rerelease title for 1932's "Midnight Warning," from Mayfair Pictures Corporation, an independent outfit that produced or distributed nearly 40 titles in seven years. William 'Stage' Boyd is back in detective form ("Murder by the Clock"), supported by Poverty Row stalwarts Huntley Gordon, Hooper Atchley, and Henry Hall ("gosh all fish hooks!"). While the plot clearly echoes the true events depicted in Terence Fisher's "So Long at the Fair," this was perhaps the only period in early Hollywood that they could produce a conclusion in this vein, some two years prior to the notorious Hays Code. Claudia Dell was used to midnight mysteries, with future roles in 1935's "Midnight Phantom" and 1944's "Meeting at Midnight" (aka "Black Magic"), a Monogram Charlie Chan and, sadly, her final film.
Reviewing this movie is a bit tricky. First, it was made in 1932, and
we can't expect too much. The acting is stilted, and the dialogue....
is sometimes.... a bit stiff. Then, part of the detective's success
depends on his super-duper binocular-glasses, which is more than a bit
goofy. They look like something out of the back of a comic book, circa
1955. Between the set-up and the climax scene at the end, it drags, and
I found myself pausing it and browsing web sites for a while.
The end of the action, as mentioned in some other reviews, is actually pretty harrowing, if you imagine watching it in a dark movie theatre in 1932. The scene seems to come out of nowhere in this otherwise standard genre film. If the rest of the film had been up to that standard, it would have been a much better production.
Finally, the denouement is a surprising twist - it doesn't work out anything like you'd expect in the genre. Let's just say it's far more ambiguous than Hollywood usually produced. I'd say it's worth watching if you're a fan of the genre and films of the early talkie era. Just don't expect too much - I don't know how another reviewer gave this nine stars. Different strokes, I guess.
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