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 »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
1938's "The Black Doll" was the second of seven Crime Club mysteries produced by Universal from 1937 to 1939, and the first of two that starred Donald Woods and lovely Nan Grey. Although not included in Universal's popular SHOCK! package of classic horror films issued to television in the late 50's, it did air an amazing 4 times on Pittsburgh's CHILLER THEATER- December 14 1968 (paired with 1961's "Creature from the Haunted Sea"), May 14 1970 (paired with 1958's "Invasion of the Animal People"), April 10 1971 (paired with 1942's "Bowery at Midnight"), and July 14 1973 (paired with 1936's "Bat Men of Africa"). The opening credits roll to the Franz Waxman score from "Bride of Frankenstein," with snatches throughout heard from "The Invisible Man," "WereWolf of London," "The Raven," "The Invisible Ray," and "Dracula's Daughter." The mystery is a solid one, featuring C. Henry Gordon as Nelson Rood, who receives a curious black doll as an unwanted reminder of his past murder of a colleague that discovered a rich mine. This ill omen is known only to Rood and his two partners, Walling (John Wray) and Mallison (Addison Richards), both of whom are summoned to Rood's remote country mansion, shortly before the host is killed in front of his daughter (Nan Grey), an eyewitness to the crime through her mirror, but who never saw the murderer. Her boyfriend is Nick Halstead (Donald Woods), who arrives on the scene before the moronic sheriff (Edgar Kennedy), plus the local doctor (Holmes Herbert)who lives nearby. Also living in the victim's home are his sister (Doris Lloyd) and her son (William Lundigan), a gambler and forger caught in the act by the now dead Rood. Nan Grey is just adorable, and the climax finds our hero solving the crimes at the breakfast table (!). Plenty of suspects and good atmosphere, let down only by the increasingly irritating antics from the inept authorities, still perfect for late night viewing.
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