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
Must Have Been Plenty of Weird Women Around In The 1940's If They Thought The Wolfman Was Sexy!
Well, Lon Chaney Jr. that is. After being cast as various monsters, most famously The Wolfman, and a moron in Of Mice And Men, Chaney must have found temporary relief the Inner Sanctum series of second feature mystery potboilers, in which he was the sophisticated leading man, nattily dressed and sporting a pencil-line mustache like Errol Flynn. And he's surprisingly believable in this mode. Just goes to show you how those 1940's pinstriped, double-breasted suits with padded shoulders could spruce up any mug. Considering Chaney's bulk, just picture what an unbelievable sex symbol he would have made dressed like the average young to middle age guy now -- with a goofy tee shirt, knobby knees showing beneath baggy shorts, with a ball cap on backwards like the dumbest of the Bowery Boys! Thank God for the old black and white movies when men dressed like men instead of overgrown Beaver Cleavers! But I digress...
In Weird Woman, Chaney is a suave college professor, the love idol of not just one, but three beautiful babes -- Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers, and Lois Collier. Gwynne is his wife, a pretty, young half-savage he has brought back from a sociology study in the South Seas. The orphan of another professor, she was brought up by the savages, unfortunately with all their heathen superstitions, something of a problem for the logic-minded prof. Even more of a problem is the bimbo co-ed Collier, who has a serious crush on him. Biggest problem of all is Ankers, the librarian he had been using before he brought the little brown babe home, now as the bimbo describes her, "a jealous old cat." Ankers, scheming for revenge, is behind all the mischief that occurs -- not a spoiler, this is known all along. How all this unfolds, how it affects the professor, his superstitious wife, and the rest of the campus, and the way the villainess gets her comeuppance is all very suspenseful and entertaining.
Even more entertaining is how well the authors of this story (Fritz Leiber Jr novel, Scott Darling adaptation) understand and reveal the cut-throat inner dynamic of a college faculty. Real life professors and administrators and their spouses may find their portrayal as snippy, catty, licentious, insecure, and overly competitive uncomfortably close to home! If this movie were remade today, no doubt the much adored professor would be a woman, still with the pin-stripe suit -- but the spurned librarian would still be one, too! Changing times, changing times! But it wouldn't be such good a movie in any way, even with a zillion-dollar budget and the top "talent" available today.
Weird Woman, along with the other 5 low-budget pictures in the Inner Sanctum series, is a good example of how the big studios of Old Hollywood without halfway trying could turn out entertaining, good-looking movies. All well-acted by Chaney and the other second tier actors involved, artistically filmed with lots of spooky night scenes, well directed with an intense psychological angle, scored with appropriately eerie music by Roy Web, all maintaining a fun creepy atmosphere throughout. Great little filler movies, the longest only 67 minutes. If you like the first one you watch, have a double feature!
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