4 user 2 critic

Footsteps in the Sand (1939)

Black Limelight (original title)
Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 25 June 1939 (USA)
A murder case sparks a sensationalist press frenzy as it becomes clear that the killer only strikes when there is a full moon.


Paul L. Stein


Dudley Leslie, Gordon Sherry (play) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Joan Marion ... Mary Charrington
Raymond Massey ... Peter Charrington
Elliott Mason Elliott Mason ... Jemima
Walter Hudd ... Lawrence Crawford
Henry Oscar ... Inspector Tanner
Dan Tobin ... Roberts - Reporter
Leslie Bradley ... Bill - Young Detective on Duty
Diana Beaumont ... Gwen - Young Maid Next Door
Coral Browne ... Lily James


A girl is murdered and the evidence points strongly toward Peter Charrington, who disappeared right after the crime. His wife Mary isn't thoroughly convinced that Peter isn't guilty but she loyally hides him when he sneaks back to their home. Developing circumstances show that other murders have been done under the same circumstances of a full moon. Mary begins to gather pieces of evidence that the murderer is her attorney, Lawrence Crawford, seized by moments of moon-madness. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 June 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Footsteps in the Sand See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film is featured in Agatha Christie's Poirot 'The A.B.C. Murders' television episode. Mr. Cust was watching it in the theatre between the B and C murders. See more »


Mary Charrington: You've been very careful, but you made one mistake. It'll be the first time that anyone has suggested you as the murderer. You'll be watched, you'll be questioned, you'll be followed, you'll give yourself away, and they'll get you.
Lawrence Crawford: I killed her, did I? Accusing me, are you? Why don't you run away Mary? Move if you can, but you don't move Mary. Why?
Mary Charrington: Because...
Lawrence Crawford: Because you know I'm not the killer.
Mary Charrington: Yes!
Lawrence Crawford: That's where you're wrong. I am the Dorset murderer. I killed Lily James, and all the others, ...
See more »


Version of Armchair Theatre: Black Limelight (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

Stagey and boring murder mystery
18 August 2014 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This inferior film is a filmed version of an inferior stage play by Gordon Sherry (not the modern Scottish golfer of that name, nor do I believe him to be any relation to the man with the extraordinary name of Valentine Sherry, whom I used to know in New York long ago, and who was the first person to introduce me to sliced sturgeon with cream cheese on a bagel). The film certainly creaks at the seams. Raymond Massey is billed as the star but he spends far less time on screen than most of the other characters, and when we see him he is so wooden we cannot be sure he is not a rather large and looming marionette on wires. The story is about how Massey's mistress (played by a very cheeky young Coral Browne) has been murdered at a beach cottage. This old film has been released on DVD under an alternative title of BLACK LIMELIGHT. Its other title of FOOTSTEPS IN THE SAND is certainly inappropriate, since the close-ups we see of the murderer's feet fleeing the beach cottage are not on sand at all, but on good old British shingle. Joan Marion plays Massey's heroic and devoted wife, who tries to defend him against charges of murder, of which she knows he is incapable. Marion's voice is so high-pitched, verging on shrillness, that it is rather hard on the ears. The best performance is by Elliot Mason, who despite her name was a woman, and who plays the Scottish maid. She also has the best lines, constantly making excellent and witty put-downs and wisecracks. If only the rest of the dialogue had not been utterly appalling and had a fraction of the wit of her lines. The other excellent performance is by Walter Hudd as the family lawyer who is also a psychopathic murderer. (As so many lawyers are thieves and liars, it comes as no surprise to find one who is a psychopathic murderer as well.) Hudd's performance is wonderfully under-stated and extraordinarily effective and creepy. He is what is called a nyctalope, which means someone who can see in the dark but who is uncomfortable in the light. This ingenious use of the device of a nyctalope (yes, that word is actually mentioned in the film dialogue) is the one redeeming feature of this tedious tale. That is why Hudd kills people in the dark, preferring nights of the full moon. It could have been good, if done properly, but it was not and is not. A Bulgarian film came out in 2010 the English title of which is also FOOTSTEPS IN THE SAND (also called NEVER LOSE HOPE), but it is no connection whatever with this one (lucky for it; however, as it is unavailable for sale anywhere that I can find, perhaps the Curse of Sherry has fallen upon it and it has been abducted by a nyctalope).

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