While on a South Seas trip, a professor falls in love and marries an exotic native woman. What he doesn't know is that she was raised by superstitious natives who believe her to be some ...
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Attorney Wayne Fletcher and his secretary are having an affair, so when Wayne's wife is found smothered to death, he becomes the prime suspect. As the police investigate the murder, a ... See full summary »
Lon Chaney Jr.,
J. Edward Bromberg
While on a South Seas trip, a professor falls in love and marries an exotic native woman. What he doesn't know is that she was raised by superstitious natives who believe her to be some kind of supernatural being. Written by
This had always been the one "Inner Sanctum" I was most interested in because it was an adaptation of Fritz Leiber's "Conjure Wife", later filmed as a superior British horror film, NIGHT OF THE EAGLE aka BURN, WITCH, BURN! (1962). This version is highly enjoyable, even if some of the fun to be had is the result of its unexpected goofiness and campiness (at least when compared to the deadly serious 'remake'). The would-be sinister native rituals consist of nothing more than harmless Tahitian dancing and risible mumbo-jumbo! Lon Chaney's irresistibility to the female sex is unconvincingly stretched to no fewer than 3 women in the film when, ultimately, he is no more than an amiable beefcake of a leading man!
Still, the female roles here are surprisingly strong: Anne Gwynne (as Chaney's superstitious native wife), Elizabeth Risdon (as the acid-tongued Dean), Elizabeth Russell (as the ambitious wife of Chaney's senior colleague) and especially Evelyn Ankers (relishing a rare villainous role as Chaney's vengeful ex). Ralph Morgan (as Russell's ill-fated husband and Chaney's direct competitor) also makes a good impression. While the film is occasionally atmospheric, it suffers in comparison with NIGHT OF THE EAGLE and that film's memorable climax is sorely missed (especially since the supernatural element is heavily toned down here). A highlight of the film is Ankers' nightmarish vision as she is haunted by her victims into confessing her crimes.
P.S. As with the previous entry in the series, CALLING DR. DEATH (1943), the Ygor theme from THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) is incorporated into the music score! By the way, am I the only one bothered by the fact that Chaney is billed merely as "Lon Chaney" rather than "Lon Chaney Jr." - or, for that matter, the fact that the credits merely state that the film is based on a story by Fritz Leiber without mentioning its actual title?
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