6.0/10
195
7 user 6 critic

Before Dawn (1933)

Sinister forces compete to find the million dollars in gold hidden by recently deceased gangster Joe Valerie in his family's old dark house 15 years earlier,

Director:

Irving Pichel

Writers:

Garrett Fort (screen play), Edgar Wallace (from the story by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stuart Erwin ... Dwight Wilson
Dorothy Wilson ... Patricia
Warner Oland ... Dr. Paul Cornelius
Dudley Digges ... Horace Merrick
Gertrude Hoffman ... Mattie (as Gertrude W. Hoffman)
Oscar Apfel ... O'Hara
Frank Reicher ... Joe Valerie
Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Marble
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Storyline

Joe Valerie stashed a million dollars in gold from a robbery 15 years earlier. Now that he lay dying a painful death, he trades the location of the money to Dr. Cornelius for a shot to end his suffering. When Mrs. Marble reads about the death of Joe, she wants to spend the money, but the ghost of Joe causes her to fall down the stairs ending her life. When the police show up, they are not sure if it is murder of not, so they enlist Dr. Cornelius and clairvoyant Patricia to help solve the case. But everyone, except Mattie and Patricia, is looking for the loot and not the ghost of Joe Valerie. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Drama of Mystery and Terror See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

4 August 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Antes del amanecer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hollywood Reporter news items had Gregory Ratoff, Hobart Cavanaugh and Lal Chand Mehra as cast members, but they did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. At one point, several arrested psychics exited a police van, but only the back of their heads were visible. One was wearing a turban, a common costume for Mehra. See more »

Quotes

Horace Merrick: A man might make many compromises with his integrity for... ah... oh... say... a half million dollars.
See more »

Soundtracks

The Wedding March
(1843) (uncredited)
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream, Op.61"
Written by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
In the score at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Engagingly stirring and unusual little picture!
28 March 2002 | by tashmanSee all my reviews

BEFORE DAWN could be a popular little cult picture if it were shown more often. A Medium (effectively played by the dependable Dudley Digges) and his extra-sensorially-gifted daughter are consulted on the frightening occurrences taking place in a, yes, old and mysterious mansion. Here's the catch, though, this is 1933, and, by golly, the daughter is played for real. I've seen dozens and dozens of television detective shows dealing with this exact subject, but those are all from the 70s-thru-current times, and I know the audience was surprised to hear they were actually utilizing ESP in a serious way. Dorothy Wilson was the attractive and intelligent ingenue raised from the ranks of the RKO secretarial pool, as legend has it. Her role might have been played by any number of marvelous actresses - Maureen O'Sullivan, Frances Dee, Jean Parker, Helen Mack - come to mind, but I'm sure glad it wasn't. Wilson is just as attractive, and yet she projects an almost Margaret Lindsay-level intelligence! She's calm and confident about her gifts, and yet she's no stranger to spook house, candle carrying fright. In addition to her old reliable father, she comes to count on detective Stu Erwin, who has learned to accept her gifts and understands the value of her assistance on the case. Veteran Jane Darwell has an effective bit, but Gertrude Hoffman (making her American film debut) impresses, adding much to the proceedings with a bitter, almost inarticulate portrayal. And stealing central focus at all times is the none-other-like-him great Warner Oland. So trustworthy, so sage, so warm as Charlie Chan, we were very fortunate that in this Post-Chan world, Oland had been given so many opportunities to use his "good" for so much marvelous, entertaining "evil." He was allowed to infuse that same trustworthy, sage warmth into a colorful array of motion picture heavies that take us unexpectedly into a darker world, as in SHANGHAI EXPRESS, DANGEROUS PARADISE, the FU MANCHU entries, and in a host of silent films. To the wise viewer, one may distrust him the moment he enters the film, but to those unsuspecting audiences who may only know his Chan films, beware! BEFORE DAWN and Warner Oland certainly keep you wondering. This is an engagingly stirring and unusual little picture!


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