The Thirteenth Guest (1932)

(a.k.a. LADY BEWARE)
Article #1063 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-11-2004
Posting Date: 7-10-2004
Directed by Albert Ray
Featuring Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot, J. Farrell MacDonald

A detective investigates a series of murders that have something to do with a fatal dinner party that occurred thirteen years ago.

I once heard that Alfred Hitchcock wondered how a movie audience would react if he killed off the leading lady in the first reel; PSYCHO was his take on that idea. It wasn’t the first time that idea was used, though; Ginger Rogers turns up dead five minutes into this movie. Of course, the similarity ends there; Rogers does pop up again before the movie is over, but to give away the circumstances would be to give away hefty chunks of the plot, so I’ll leave that a surprise. I like the script and the basic story of this one; it’s one of the more creative of the “old dark house” genre, with an unusual backstory, a creepy hooded villain, and a fairly insidious way of committing murder. However, the low Monogram budget, uninspired direction and turgid pacing all sap quite a bit of the life from the proceedings, which is too bad, as this could have been one of the best of the forgotten horrors. As it is, it’s also worth catching for the early performance by Lyle Talbot as well as for Ginger Rogers.

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