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A Shot in the Dark (1935)

Approved | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 February 1935 (USA)
The apparent hanging of a suicidal student is revealed to be murder, as he was already dead when the noose was placed around his neck, killed by a sharp needle that penetrated the back of his skull with great force.



(novel), (adaptation) (as Charles S. Belden) | 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Harris
Edward Van Sloan ...
Prof. Bostwick
Jean Coates
Miss Lottie Case
Doris Lloyd ...
Lucille Coates
James Bush ...
Byron Coates / John Meseraux
Julian Madison ...
Charlie Penlon
Eddie Tamblyn ...
Bill Smart
Ralph Brooks ...
Sam Anderson
Robert McKenzie ...
Prof. Brand
Herbert Bunston ...
College President
Deputy Ab Barber
Dr. Howell


The apparent hanging of a suicidal student is revealed to be murder, as he was already dead when the noose was placed around his neck, killed by a sharp needle that penetrated the back of his skull with great force.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The infallible detective meets the perfect crime!


Mystery | Thriller


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 February 1935 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed at Universal studios in January 1935, released a month later. See more »

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User Reviews

A serious, plot centered, but failed mystery
14 April 2013 | by (Hungary) – See all my reviews

While many of the era's murder mysteries incorporated elements of other genres, such as comedy, action or those beloved old dark house kind of horror movies to shake things up a bit (or to make you forget about plot holes), this one uses no such things, which results in a quite serious tone and a very plot centered script. Which could be a good thing, but unfortunately the movie (which is now in public domain) fails in so many ways.

The budget was pretty low (the movie was produced by Chesterfield, shortly before it was merged into Republic, to avoid closure due to their debts), which would not be a problem itself, but the whole film is way too talkie, while the confusing plot drags around quite slow, with not much going on: the incompetent, but unfunny police officer admits that they don't know much about murder and do not really wish to be in charge (just what!?) and the son-and-father duo that ends up handling the case does not do much detective work either, as they often simply run into important evidence accidentally.

The acting is also pretty weak with people reacting to events in totally unlikely ways. For example when they discover the body of Byron, the first victim or when later others are told about his death, they are all like "Oh, really?" with almost zero emotion shown. Even when his mother learns about his death, we see her smiling, showing childhood pictures of the boy just moments later. The way the other murders are committed is rather unrealistic, the actors that are supposed to play collage boys are quite obviously much older than they should be and the plot, which revolves around some complicated family matters and a lot of money is just too muddled and uninteresting to keep up your attention for 70 minutes. Still, it is not a complete waste of time, but not really recommended either.

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