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>
A Crime Club Mystery. In 1937, Universal had acquired the rights to select 4 books from the publisher of the pulp whodunits' annual output of 52 novels. This was the second one produced in the deal. A total of 11 Crime Club mysteries would be filmed. The Crime Club deal ended with the release of The Witness Vanishes (1939) in September, 1939. 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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