Sunday 11 November 2007

Mysterious Intruder (1946) William Castle

Film number six for the Whistler (the fourth directed by William Castle), and Richard Dix is a hard boiled detective this time, Don Gale. He's hired by Edward Stillwell who runs an old music store to track down a girl he hasn't seen in years, Elora Lund. Gale is a particularly unscrupulous detective, so sends an imposter in to see him. He explains that she's rich through some 'junk' that her mother had given him to sell years ago, but which he'd kept. However before he can tell her what it was, a mysterious intruder breaks in and kills him.

Gale, sleazy but not stupid, now has the hint to a fortune but no clue as to what it is, and in tracking down the murderer incurs the unwelcome attentions of the law. Detectives Taggart and Burns are good at their jobs, quite a change for Barton MacLane who is usually either inept or merely adequate and reliant on someone like Torchy Blane to actually get a case solved. He's Taggart and Charles Lane is Burns, with his memorable miser face.

Eventually we discover exactly what this is all about. Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, apparently recorded two wax cylinders six months before she died, and they came to Stillwell via Elora Lund's mother. Now Gale has to find a way to use Elora to gain the cylinders and glean his own sizeable profit in the process. In the meantime he becomes a logical and highly sought after suspect for a growing number of murders.

These Whistler movies are a little more detail oriented than a lot of the run of the mill detective films of the time, and William Castle can always be relied on to introduce a bitter twist. However Richard Dix remains the low point, even though he's probably better here as a sleazy detective than in the previous couple of Whistler movies that I've seen.

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