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Richard Greene plays British nobleman Sir Ronald Burton, a man intent on proving that an evil Austrian count, Karl von Bruno (Stephen McNally), was the person responsible for murdering two of his friends. So he travels to the Counts' domain, the Black Castle of the title, under an alias, enjoying the Counts' hospitality, as well as participating in a leopard hunt. Along the way he falls in love with von Brunos' beautiful young wife, Elga (Rita Corday).
Greene is an effective hero, and Corday is absolutely lovely. There are lots of impressive supporting performances here, by John Hoyt and Michael Pate as two associates of our villainous Count, Tudor Owen as Burtons' travelling companion Romley, and especially Henry Corden as Fender the servant. Greene, as handsome and stoic as he is, still can't compete with the entertaining theatrics of one eyed McNally, who's fun to watch. Lon Chaney Jr. is kind of wasted in a thankless role as a nearly mute thug. Boris Karloff does his usual delightful work as a distraught doctor who joins the heroes' cause, although his fans should be aware that this isn't really a Boris vehicle. His role, too, is a supporting one.
There's a fair bit to enjoy here, in particular that leopard hunt, which is very atmospheric and is the best part of the movie. Nathan Juran directs, with his typical efficiency. The story, concocted by Jerry Sackheim, is a rather straightforward one and also an agreeable one. You gotta love von Bruno for having a castle with such standard features as booby traps and an alligator pit.
All in all, this isn't a great Universal-International production, but it is a good one.
Seven out of 10.
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