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Author Topic: What whodunits did you see/hear/read?  (Read 3056 times)
kjrwe
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« Reply #75 on: September 01, 2017, 01:59:56 AM »

I've seen a bunch of these years ago, but not many recently. I believe one or two were on TCM within the last year. I'm curious are they being cablecast or are they in a collection?

They're on DVD. I know someone who watched them on youtube a few years ago, too. Not sure if they're still posted.

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kjrwe
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« Reply #76 on: September 16, 2017, 12:20:41 AM »

I haven't been watching too many movies lately. The ones I've seen have been the retro mysteries, (Poirot, Ellery Queen, Marple).

I'll come back to this thread when I've mixed it up a bit.  Smiley

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« Reply #77 on: October 23, 2017, 02:42:25 AM »

The Unseen (1945) - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038205/reference

Salem Alley Shenanigans.

The Unseen is directed by Lewis Allen and collectively written by Hagar Wilde, Ken Englund and Raymond Chandler. It's adapted from Ethel Lina White's novel "Her Heart in Her Throat". It stars Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks and Isobel Elsom. Music is by Ernst Toch and cinematography by John F. Seitz.

Elizabeth Howard (Russell) is hired as a governess for David Fielding's (McCrea) two children. With David being secretive and strange occurrences happening, she begins to unravel the mystery of the empty house next door.

Foolishly seen as a follow up to the far superior The Uninvited (1944), The Unseen is efficient without really rising to thrilling heights. Taken as a mood piece it scores favourably, lots of shadows, cobbled streets, darkened rooms and plenty of suspicious goings on, but as a mystery it falls flat. It gets off to a mixed start, with a grisly murder bogged down by a clumsy narration, from there we are on board with Russell's governess who gets more than she bargained for in her new employment. A number of characters drift in and out of proceedings, but the villain of the piece is evident from the get go, and it builds to a disappointingly flat finale.

A sort of weak companion piece to Gaslight (original and remake) and The Innocents, it's not recommended with any great confidence. Those looking for better and similar tonal fare from Lewis Allen are advised to seek out the aforementioned The Uninvited and So Evil My Love (1948). 5/10

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kjrwe
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« Reply #78 on: October 23, 2017, 08:05:55 PM »

Regarding The Unseen:

I wonder if I'm the only mystery lover who likes this movie....

I do admit, though, that it is weaker than a lot of the 1930s whodunits which I like so much. Still, I really like the atmosphere in this one...especially the spooky dark alley. Reminds me of a John Dickson Carr novel in which a mysterious alley is part of the mystery. And it's kinda neat that they used kids as a big part of this story. I'll just say that this is a case where the father should have had a better idea of what his kids were up to...

I've heard some mystery lovers compare this movie to The Uninvited. Personally, I don't see any connection between the two movies (except for the leading lady).

Thanks for the review, Spike, and sorry that you didn't enjoy this movie a lot more!

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« Reply #79 on: October 24, 2017, 06:51:49 AM »

Regarding The Unseen:

I've heard some mystery lovers compare this movie to The Uninvited. Personally, I don't see any connection between the two movies (except for the leading lady).

Same director as well of course, and they both have the initials T U, but that's it really, The Uninvited is a completely different film.

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« Reply #80 on: October 24, 2017, 11:41:58 PM »

Same director as well of course, and they both have the initials T U, but that's it really, The Uninvited is a completely different film.


Oh yes, that too.

Now that I think about it, I remember someone on IMDb saying that the director wanted to take advantage of the popularity of The Uninvited in order to come up with another instant hit, and he thought that The Unseen would work. It didn't. I remember that this person (on the boards) seemed to think that the director was being so ridiculous and got what he deserved and all that. My question is: why on earth would it matter NOW? These films were released years ago. Why would their box office numbers, popularity, etc. even be relevant now?

By the way, one of the creepiest scenes IMHO in this film is where the little girl is showing the governess her scrapbook. There's a picture of Snow White, and suddenly it's followed by a pic of the murder victim. Nicely done by the director! What a contrast!

Time for a rewatch, for sure.

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« Reply #81 on: October 31, 2017, 01:26:44 AM »

I've been so busy with other things, but I'm finally back into the movie-watching groove. I'll be watching the ones I reviewed below (months ago). I watch these about once or twice each year:

These next couple of days, I'll be watching several 1930s mysteries based on Mignon Eberhart mystery novels.

Some of Eberhart's stories feature Nurse Sarah Keate (sometimes renamed as Sally Keating in the films), along with detective Lance O'Leary.

The films are generally set in isolated locations (either a house or hotel), and they contain at least one of the following: secret passages, secret rooms, bizarre characters, blackmailers, wills, family matriarchs/patriarchs, etc. The only thing missing from all the films is the portrait with the moving eyes.

The ones I'll be watching are:

The White Cockatoo

While the Patient Slept

Mystery House

Murder by an Aristocrat


I've seen each of these a number of times.

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« Reply #82 on: November 01, 2017, 04:25:35 PM »

I'm done with the Mignon Eberhart adaptations, and now it's time for some Philo Vance mysteries.

There are really just three which appeal to me, so I'll watch those:

The Greene Murder Case, The Dragon Murder Case, The Kennel Murder Case.

I'm also okay with the first part of The Canary Murder Case, but the story really goes downhill quickly and I remember having NO trouble figuring out whodunit.

Any other fans here?

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« Reply #83 on: November 01, 2017, 04:52:59 PM »

I'm done with the Mignon Eberhart adaptations, and now it's time for some Philo Vance mysteries.

There are really just three which appeal to me, so I'll watch those:

The Greene Murder Case, The Dragon Murder Case, The Kennel Murder Case.

I'm also okay with the first part of The Canary Murder Case, but the story really goes downhill quickly and I remember having NO trouble figuring out whodunit.

Any other fans here?

I've seen them, they star William Powell right, or at least a couple do.

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« Reply #84 on: November 04, 2017, 11:44:31 PM »

William Powell doesn't star in The Dragon Murder Case.

Warren William got the part.

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« Reply #85 on: November 08, 2017, 07:39:34 PM »

A handful from the 30s and 40s which I've seen these past couple of days:

The Case of the Howling Dog: this is my favourite of the 1930s Perry Mason films. I love the storyline! I think I reviewed it last year. I make a point to watch it at least once a year.

The Ninth Guest: I'm guessing that this film was the inspiration for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. A handful of guests (all known to each other in some capacity) are invited to a penthouse suite, and one by one, they are murdered. Definitely an unusual setting for such a story! Normally these types of stories are set in some isolated location.

....and three (out of four) films based on the same source material (I wish that I could see the original German film):

Secret of the Blue Room: the best of the three films. Terrifying film about three men (they all love the same young woman) who want to prove how brave they are by taking turns sleeping in a room in which three tragedies took place 20 years earlier. The room is in the home where the young woman lives, and they want to prove their bravery to her.

The Missing Guest: the worst of the three films. I really had trouble getting through this one this time around.  It would have been much better if they had laid off the annoying humor. However, this is a 1930s film with a reporter as a main character, so of course the mood is going to be loud, obnoxious, with bad humor. In other 1930s films revolving around newspaper offices, it's fine, but here, this sort of mood is really out of place. Also,  I recommend skipping the first five minutes of this movie. Seriously.

Murder in the Blue Room: almost as good as Secret of the Blue Room. Despite the fact that this is a musical, it was much more atmospheric than The Missing Guest. Not many whodunit-musicals out there! This is one of them.

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« Reply #86 on: November 12, 2017, 03:27:48 PM »

Murder at the Vanities (1934):

I've lost count how many times I've seen this terrific whodunit-musical. Probably at least 20 times by now!

While a live performance on stage is going on, a couple of murders take place backstage.

I admit that the mystery itself isn't one of the best I've seen, but combined with the memorable musical numbers, the mystery is just right. The whodunit keeps the musical from getting too sugary-sweet (as many musicals are, unfortunately).

If you see this movie, be on the lookout for:

-several pre-Code elements (example: scantily-clad women in a couple of the early performances)

-a musical number which basically says, "Thankfully Prohibition is over!"

-Duke Ellington and his orchestra in one of the musical numbers (about an hour into the film)

This movie comes very highly recommended by me.  Smiley

I've only seen a handful of musical-whodunits. If only more of them had been filmed! Off-hand, I can only think of four of them, including this movie. It's a very interesting combination, and tough to pull off.

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« Reply #87 on: November 17, 2017, 01:12:22 AM »

Lately, I've been watching a few 1930s mysteries set in Britain (some British films, some not). Each time I watch these movies and a few others, I keep wishing that more Agatha Christie mysteries had been filmed back in the 30s. What I wouldn't give to see a 1930s version of Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, etc. Wishful thinking!

Charlie Chan in London: a young man is about to be executed for the murder of another man. This man's sister is convinced that her brother is innocent and she gets Charlie Chan to help find the real killer. Most of the film takes place in an isolated mansion, which is always a bonus.

The Terror: two crooks help an anonymous boss steal thousands of dollars. The boss betrays them and they wind up in jail for ten years. Once they're out, they go to an isolated mansion where this anonymous boss is supposedly lurking about. The first part of this film is gangster film-style, but after about 10 minutes, it turns into an isolated country house whodunit, as well as a murder mystery. The secret room and the spooky noises which are probably coming from it are a nice addition to the movie, too. Some parts of the film are a bit slow, but overall it's worth a look.  Alastair Sim really steals the show here as one of the crooks. No wonder he became such a big name later!

The Shadow: all the elements of a typical 1930s British mystery here - a blackmailer is on the loose, and this person is likely hiding in the isolated mansion where most of the movie takes place. Some red herrings thrown in, too. A lot like Agatha Christie, though she came up with much more elaborate and surprising endings. This one might be a bit too easy for modern audiences to figure out.

The Mystery of Mr. X: clever story about a serial cop killer who is terrorizing Scotland Yard. A diamond thief is at the wrong place at the wrong time, and he has some work to do to get Scotland Yard to stop thinking that the diamond thief is also the killer. He wants to sell the diamond ASAP and get in with stealing jewelry, etc. Lots of VERY clever twists and turns in this gem.

The Ghost Camera: a young man comes home and finds that a camera not belonging to him is in his car. He develops some of the pictures and he gets curious about the pics (which hint at a mystery) and the camera's owner. Also, the camera is stolen from his home. This man searches for the camera's owner and later, he attempts to solve the mystery of other pictures which he developed. Oh yes, there's murder here, too.

The Ghost Camera is based on a story by an author who wrote a couple of novels which I've read. In one of these other novels, a man who lives alone locks up his house and goes on holidays. At a train station (or somewhere), he overhears someone asking the operator for HIS phone number...and he hears this person talking to someone at his own home! But no one is supposed to be at home! Interesting novel. Too bad it was never filmed.

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