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John Jasper, a brooding, moody choirmaster at a finishing school in Victorian England, maintains a secret life that includes frequenting an opium den. His tortured mind becomes obsessed with a young student, Rosa Bud, who is engaged to his nephew Edwin Drood. When she senses the intensity of Jasper's feelings, she becomes frightened of him and avoids his company. When the mixed-blooded Neville Landless and his twin sister Helena arrive at the school from Ceylon, Neville and Edwin take an immediate dislike to one another over Rosa's affections. Although they quarrel and make up, Edwin disappears, and suspicion logically falls on the quick-tempered Neville. Written by
Lavishly produced by Universal at a time, in retrospect, could least afford it. The studio was not yet aware of the failure of their most recent Dickens' adaption, Great Expectations (1934) and due to Carl Laemmle's financial excesses and asleep-at-the-wheel managerial style, Universal was rapidly sinking into a financial debacle. This film, like so many of Universal's of this period, flopped. See more »
After the first dinner party, as David Manners and Douglass Montgomery are walking down the street to go home, the shadow of the boom mike can be seen in the background on the side of the buildings. See more »
[addressing her students]
Ladies, a crisis is a test of breeding. Remember you're Britains!
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John Jasper is a respectable choir master on the upper level, but beneath lurks a madman, an opium-addicted man of intrigue and deception with a deadly fascination for a young girl, Rosa Bud, who is engaged to his nephew, Edwin Drood. The marriage has been arranged from the crib, and neither Rosa nor Edwin (who is fondly called "Ned") are particularly fond of the idea, having resolved themselves to wed someday, simply because they must. Rosa is a young learner of music, and is fearful of her instructor -- John Jasper -- while her fiancé mere laughs off her uncertainty.
However, a wrench is thrown into the works when charming foreigner Neville and his lovely sister come to town, and the former immediately falls passionately in love with Rosa. Ned is flippant of his opinion of his would-be-wife, and Jasper just barely saves his nephew from Neville's violent temper, which manifests in the foreigner nearly taking a knife to them both. Having been sent away from his hometown for just such an act (and in fact, murdering his stepfather), Neville must watch his steps, and avoid Ned and Rosa at all costs, lest his anger again surface.
About this time, it is discovered that their betrothal hinges only on their personal desire to love one another, resulting in the breaking of the engagement. But Rosa and Ned decide to keep it to themselves for the present... a mistake that cannot be altered when Ned disappears, and his murder is blamed on young Neville, who was the last to see him. Jasper begins an all-out manhunt for the killer when Neville flees for his own safety, and will stop at nothing to have what he wants. In the meantime, Rosa is terrified of her music teacher, and what dangers he may impress upon her, even resorting to blackmail to gain her hand in marriage. But a mysterious stranger has come to town and is slowly unraveling the truth to "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
This screen adaptation makes up an ending to the famous Dickens novel which was never finished... leaving scholars and fans alike pondering the mystery that would never be solved... until now, The sad thing about this old "horror" picture is the fact that you can guess "whodunit" within the first twenty minutes. But gauging it against the other productions of the era, it's really quite good. The acting is first-rate, and the costuming is beautiful -- if only it were in color! The characters are all engaging, and the film has enough suspense to engage even the most action-loving viewer.
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