DR. RENAULT’S SECRET (1942)
Article #119 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 7-13-2001
Posting date: 11-26-2001
A man visits his fiancee who lives in a French village. There he meets Noel, a strange hulking manservant of his fiancee’s uncle, Dr. Renault. When the man switches rooms with a local drunk, and the drunk is murdered, suspicion falls on Noel, who is very attached to the man’s fiancee.
I saw this one years ago, and back then it didn’t make much of an impression on me; seeing it recently turned out to be a revelation. I now consider this movie to be a little gem, anchored by two outstanding performances; first, by J. Carrol Naish as Noel, who plays the part much like he would later play Daniel in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with an overwhelming sense of sadness and longing. It also contains one of my favorite performances by George Zucco as Dr. Renault, who makes the character seem so likeable in the first half of the movie that the revelations in the second half really do come as surprises. The unexpected presence of Mike Mazurki as the real villain of the story, Rogell, adds to the fun. The story gets a bit messy at times, but it has some unique and interesting touches to it. All in all, a worthy little SF/Horror movie.