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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
This is pretty much a direct copy of the pulp novel formula then popular.
Detective happens to be nearby when a murder is committed. Once engaged, others occur.
The pool of suspects is small and confined to a country home.
The policeman on the case is greatly outclassed by the detective and provides comedy. There is a funny joke here. The sheriff's men are bunglers as well. The sheriff says to them both, better get your act together or you'll be selling popcorn again, meaning: you won't be on the screen any more but in the back at the concession stand.
The solution to the crimes comes while everyone is gathered to hear the detective explain things at the end. Traditionally there are some surprise revelations beyond the murder and that happens here. Also traditionally, the solution to the mystery depends on you having made an assumption about a key fact.
The trick here involves a VooDoo-like doll make of leather that was a child's plaything but appears after decades and repurposed as a curse. The production values are typical for this sort of thing, and the mystery a bit better. There is no offensive racist chauffeur in this one. That slot is filled by a Hispanic butler, whose accent and language are the source of jokes.
Other than the self-referential joke, not much important here.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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