7.2/10
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59 user 23 critic

Mystery Street (1950)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 20 August 1950 (UK)
A small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when a human skeleton is found on a Massachusetts beach.

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Sydney Boehm (screenplay), Richard Brooks (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ricardo Montalban ... Peter Moralas
Sally Forrest ... Grace Shanway
Bruce Bennett ... Dr. McAdoo
Elsa Lanchester ... Mrs. Smerrling
Marshall Thompson ... Henry Shanway
Jan Sterling ... Vivian Heldon
Edmon Ryan ... James Joshua Harkley
Betsy Blair ... Jackie Elcott
Wally Maher Wally Maher ... Tim Sharkey
Ralph Dumke Ralph Dumke ... A Tattooist
Willard Waterman ... A Mortician
Walter Burke ... An Ornithologist
Don Shelton Don Shelton ... A District Attorney
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Storyline

Vivian, a B-girl working at "The Grass Skirt," is being brushed off by her rich, married boyfriend. To confront him, she hijacks drunken customer Henry Shanway and his car from Boston to Cape Cod, where she strands Henry...and is never seen again. Months later, a skeleton is found (sans clothes or clues) on a lonely Cape Cod beach. Using the macabre expertise of Harvard forensic specialist Dr. McAdoo, Lt. Pete Morales must work back from bones to the victim's identity, history, and killer. Will he succeed in time to save an innocent suspect? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Anything can happen !


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 August 1950 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder at Harvard See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$730,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Daily Variety had announced that John Indrisano would appear in the film but there's no confirmation that he's in the final cut. See more »

Goofs

When Vivian is talking on the phone early in the movie, initially she has a thin band ring on her finger. During the same conversation she has on a different ring with a large stone on it. See more »

Quotes

Lieutenant Peter Morales: Is your husband here?
Mrs. Smerrling: [after a pause] Not exactly.
Lieutenant Peter Morales: Were you ever married?
Mrs. Smerrling: [Another pause] Not exactly. I... I, uh - you see, I...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Beacon Hill - Boston. 6 months ago. See more »

Connections

Featured in Mystery Street: Murder at Harvard (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder
Music by Daryl Hutchins (uncredited)
Played on the radio or juke box at the Grass Skirt
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Atmospheric Noir Visuals
8 May 2011 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Though the script is B-grade, the terrific cast and cinematography make "Mystery Street" a fun movie to watch. The story lacks depth and substantive twists, and the fractured plot suggests a weak structure. Focus oscillates back and forth among a number of characters. As a result, viewers come away with a sense that the film is an ensemble piece when in fact it isn't.

Jan Sterling is well cast as Vivian, a young, blonde hussy who is in trouble with the wrong people. The great Elsa Lanchester provides grotesque comic relief as the dithering but nervy Mrs. Smerrling, Vivian's smarmy, slithery landlady who's very fond of money. And Ricardo Montalban is surprisingly good as Morales, a novice Boston detective trying to solve a murder. Part of the plot provides a good account of then-current forensic science, as Morales pieces together detailed biological clues.

Gorgeous B&W photography makes this film quite atmospheric. Off-kilter angles in some scenes, shadows, silhouettes, a forced perspective, along with Gothic set decoration render interesting visuals. I especially liked those scenes that contain mostly blackness punctuated with bits of light. The look and feel is very 1940s, with scenes at a seedy rooming house, a tawdry bar called the Grass Skirt, and sleazy music to match.

The main reason I chose to watch this film is because of the mystery genre and the casting of wonderful Elsa Lanchester. The "mystery" was a tad disappointing, but Elsa was sheer delight.

"Mystery Street" contains a story that is acceptable if not first rate. But the cast and B&W noir visuals are terrific, making this an above-average film, one I would recommend.


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