THE BLACK RAVEN (1943)
Article #1440 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-22-2005
Posting Date: 7-22-2005
Directed by Sam Newfield
Featuring George Zucco, Robert Livingston, Wanda McKay
The proprietor of an inn that serves as a front for transporting criminals out of the country finds himself caught up in murder and a struggle to find a satchel with $50,000.
Though this is not a horror movie, it qualifies as marginalia thanks to some nice atmosphere and the presence of George Zucco. It’s really a mystery, and not a particularly good one, but somehow, that doesn’t really matter. I found myself enjoying some of the odd touches, such as having Glenn Strange play the comic relief character, and having our hero be George Zucco’s criminal proprietor; after all, it is his investigation that cracks the crime rather than those of the Sheriff (played here by perennial serial villain Charles Middleton). I also have to admit to liking the ham-fisted way the movie sets up its situation; that this particular combination of characters should all happen to converge at this one place is highly unlikely, but it does have its amusing side to it. So on top of the crooked but soft-hearted proprietor and his dumb assistant, we have the obligatory couple trying to elope, a desperate criminal trying to leave the country, an escaped convict bent on revenge, a bigwig with underworld connections, and a meek clerk who has actually embezzled a large sum of money. They’re all here because the bridge is washed out. It’s silly and obvious, but fun enough in its low-budget PRC way.