Monday 2 April 2007

The Crime Doctor's Courage (1945) George Sherman

Movie number three for Dr Robert Ordway, the Crime Doctor, and he's on a roll so far. Both The Crime Doctor and The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case were solid and a cut above the usual B movie mystery fare. So what's the third like? Well it's not up to the standard of the last two, though it's a lot stranger a case than the Strangest Case. It's not a bad locked room mystery but it suffers from the same problem the second film did, namely that the script outstripped the ability of the actors to act it, leaving most of the deliveries wooden and artificial.

Worst of all are Stephen Crane as Gordon Carson and the unknown actress playing his second wife Evelyn, who open the film. Evelyn is a newlywed whose husband has already mysteriously lost one new wife and is busy harrassing her about whether she believes him when he tells her it was an accident. Of course he's doing the harrassing on top of a cliff and she soon ends up at the bottom the hard way. We see that this one is an accident, or at least seems to be, but we have no idea about the first one and next thing we know there's a wife number three, Kathleen. She hijacks Ordway's holiday to find out if her husband is insane.

Hillary Brooke isn't much better as Kathleen than her husband and his previous wife. Anthony Caruso and Lupita Tovar are better dancers than they are actors but they're not that great in either role. They're a pair of mysterious Spanish dancers who can apparently make themselves invisible and who are present when Gordon apparently kills himself in a locked room with barred windows. Ordway, of course, realises that it's murder and he's backed up by Jerome Cowen, who is fine as an author with quick wits also present at the time. There's also Lloyd Corrigan as the bride's father and he's also fun. I know him best as Arthur the rich but clueless friend in the Boston Blackie series.

There are bonus points for the vampire angle and for the complexity of the plot, but it loses out once again on the standard of acting. It's still up on most of its competitors but the series is starting to head downhill.

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