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The Unknown (1946)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Mystery | 4 July 1946 (USA)
The daughter of a strange famiy has returned after a long time to the family estate. She has two investigators checking out the eerie goings-on on the estate's spooky mansion.



(based upon the original radio program "I Love a Mystery" written by), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Nina Arnold
Reed Cawthorne (as Robert Scott)
Richard Arnold
Barton Yarborough ...
Edward Martin
Ralph Martin
Helen Freeman ...
Phoebe Martin


Story takes place over a span of years and a lot happens before Jack Packard and 'Doc" Long show up, or is explained after they make their entrance: A girl marries against the wishes of her parents, the parents argue about it, the father is killed, the girl loses her mind, and the mother goes away and pretends to be dead. Years later, the daughter of the insane woman (she had gotten married, and pregnant)returns to the old family homestead, and is not welcomed with open arms, as this family has several closets containing skeletons...from around the world. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nothing but MURDER to keep the...Secret! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 July 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Coffin  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Third and final entry in the 'I Love a Mystery' series released by Columbia Pictures, based on the popular radio program of the same name that aired on the NBC radio network from 1939 to 1944. See more »


Follows The Devil's Mask (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

Karen Morley/The Unknown
15 October 2010 | by See all my reviews

Very odd to see someone state that Jeff Donnell is the biggest-name draw here, given that the star is Karen Morley. Granted, Morley wasn't the biggest movie star ever, but, I'd think that Dinner at Eight and Scarface alone would provide her a bigger profile than Donnell. And she also managed to appear in a few other special, noteworthy flicks, such as The Mask of Fu Manchu, Gabriel over the White House and Vidor's great, if flawed, Our Daily Bread. Even The Sin of Madelon Claudet and Mata Hari.

Plus, Morley's pretty boss in this film. She really anchors it and makes her character quite a sympathetic one. It really is her film.

As for the rest -- it's a fun, minor little B-mystery with nice horror touches. As are the other I Love a Mystery flicks. Nothing great, but certainly fun for mystery, horror and B-movie fans, the kind of small, old, and old-fashioned movie that deservedly endears itself to certain kinds fans (I'm one of them).

Plus, this one had really nice Southern Gothic atmosphere. I love it when a cheap film can effectively create and define a relatively small space and generate a real (especially spooky) atmosphere. (Can you tell that I'm a big-ass Val Lewton fan? Or that Horror Hotel/City of the Dead is one of my very favorite horror movies?)

I just saw all three of the ILaM flicks on TCM the other early AM and enjoyed the other two similarly. Fairly ambitious in ideas and plot twists, far less so in their makers' ability to turn those thoughts into fully-realized cinema – and fun, old-fashioned treats, all in all. Bannon is hardly a great actor, but he sure as heck is nice to look at, and Yarborough has his moments. And each film has a few special bonuses in its "case-specific" cast: I Love a Mystery has the great Nina (My Name is Julia Ross) Foch and legendary screen creep George Macready; The Devil's Mask has Anita ("Ginger's Mom") Louise and Frank Mayo, an actor who intrigued me greatly just a while back on TCM with his terrific starring performance in Vidor's keen silent melodrama, Wild Oranges (talk about creating and defining a small, atmospheric space!), making me wish he'd been given so much more to do in his career; The Unknown has not only has Morley and Donnell but also, for the Val Lewton fan, The Leopard Man's James Bell!


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