7 user 2 critic

The Black Doll (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Mystery, Romance | 30 January 1938 (USA)
Nicholas Rood, dishonest mine owner, finds a Black Doll on his desk and knows that vengeance is about to overtake him for murdering his former partner. He is knifed as he talks to his ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Marian Rood
Sheriff Renick
Nelson Rood
Doris Lloyd ...
Laura Leland
A.H. Mallison
Dr. Giddings
Rex Leland
Esteban, the butler
Inez Palange ...
Rosita, the housekeeper
Deputy Red
Arthur Hoyt ...


Nicholas Rood, dishonest mine owner, finds a Black Doll on his desk and knows that vengeance is about to overtake him for murdering his former partner. He is knifed as he talks to his daughter Marian. She summons her fiancé Nick Halstead, a private detective. He finds that six people had a motive for the murder; Rood's sister Mrs. Laura Leland; her son Rex; Rood's associates Mallison and Walling; Esteban, a servant and Dr. Giddings. Sheriff Renick and his deputy Red get the clues all mixed up, but Nick finally narrows the search down to one suspect... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 January 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Boneca Misteriosa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At one point the sheriff mistakenly refers to two suspects as "Wallace and Simpson". This is a topical pun, referring to the Duchess of Windsor (born Wallis Simpson), the American socialite for whom the Duke of Windsor (at the time King Edward VIII) had recently abdicated the English throne so they could marry (he could not wed a twice-divorced foreigner and remain King, so he chose love). They remained married until his death in 1972, 35 years later. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Very entertaining mystery with laughs
2 April 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

Boy, is rich old Nelson Rood (C. Henry Gordon) asking for it! He is rude and imperious with everyone around him. So when he finds a black doll on his desk with a knife through it, he knows it's a genuine threat.

Who might want to harm Rood? Well….He is cruel to his sister, who lives with him and depends on his support. He scoffs at his nephew, a rebellious young man who has been forging his uncle's name on checks. He tries to chase away his daughter's fiancé. He even insults his faithful butler. And then there are the two old "business partners" from whom he has been hiding for 15 years, seemingly the only two people alive who could have known about the black doll….

Nan Grey and Donald Cook make a nice pair as the intelligent daughter and her clever fiancé. Cook is right on the job when the murder is discovered; true, it's a murder investigation, but he generally gives the impression that he is having great fun with it all. Grey exhibits charm and personality—she's smarter than your average B movie heroine here, and fully a match for Cook's exuberance. (Alas, Grey is not really given quite enough to do.)

Edgar Kennedy is strictly comic relief as the sheriff, but if you like Edgar then this film is for you. His best line: "When I'm investigating a crime, I'm not a man—I'm a bloodhound!" He's blustery, hilarious and totally inept right to the film's final shot.

The mystery plot itself is pretty standard….but it keeps you guessing. The dialog is good and the performances energetic. Lots of fun for B mystery fans.

One line that mystified me: "Get me a jar of jelly, some talcum powder, and a plate." (Donald Woods apparently preparing to take some fingerprints. All for naught, however, as one of Sheriff Kennedy's deputies eats the jelly.)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: