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Saturday, 24 November 2007

The Crime Doctor's Warning (1945) William Castle

Dr Robert Ordway, the Crime Doctor, is having his silhouette cut out at a carnival, to assist the police by hopefully identifying whether the artist is a murderer. A woman has been murdered and her silhouette was cut out of the newspaper on her table. She was stabbed with the scissors. Next day a young artist, Clive Lake, who has a studio in the vicinity visits Ordway with a story about memory lapses. Soon the body of another model is discovered in his apartment, so it looks highly likely that he's the killer but he doesn't remember a thing. Ordway naturally takes it upon himself to investigate.

This is a pretty solid example of the pretty solid nature of this series. Warner Baxter is no great actor but he's effective in the role and is believable as a psychiatrist who enjoys a good mystery and the chase. The cast he gets to work with here are similar: not great, not bad, just decent realistic actors doing decent realistic jobs. If 'workmanlike' wouldn't imply an insult to quality, I'd pick it as the definitive word for the series: they're all solid films that may or may not have anything extra to elevate them to something better.

This one does have a little something extra: a mystery that holds the interest. The director is William Castle so you'd expect something quirky and sinister and if that's what you're looking for you won't be disappointed towards the end of the film. The Crime Doctor movies all address insanity or mental disease in some way or other, and that can easily enter the realm of the sinister. Not a great film but a decent enough entry in the series, and certainly not the worst.

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