One of the few films in which Jack Haley received top billing. In most of his films he was usually billed third or even lower. (In his most famous film, The Wizard of Oz (1939), in which he played the Tin Man, he was billed fifth.) See more »
A meek and mild chess reporter (!) gets involved in a mystery surrounding a valuable stolen chess set and murder aboard a train.
In the Land of Oz, Jack Haley's a great Tin Man; in the land of screen detectives, he's a bust. His Larry Elliot is neither funny nor attention-getting. Instead, Elliot is basically feckless and in a dull, unamusing way. I don't know what the screenwriters were aiming for, but whatever, it didn't come off. The result is even odder since Mainwaring and Shane were two of the best scripters in the business. The mystery part too, sort of comes and goes, before collapsing into a badly staged climax. Then too, where does the title come from since there is no scary part.
The one compensation is catching Detour's (1945) hard-case Ann Savage doing a 180, playing instead a sweetly supportive leading lady. Wouldn't have believed it without seeing it. And what's the deal with Barton MacLane as the tough desperado. He's wasted in what looks like a tacked-on role, maybe to boost marquee appeal. Too bad.
Anyway, this is one of the least engaging of the amateur detective genre of which there were many at the time. In fact, the whole thing appears tacked together in a hurry-up editing room.
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