Menace (1934)

MENACE (1934)
Article #1639 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-9-2005
Posting Date: 2-6-2006
Directed by Ralph Murphy
Featuring Gertrude Michael, Paul Cavanagh, Henrietta Crosman

A game of bridge inadvertently sets up a chain of events that brings about the death of the supervisor of a dam. Unfortunately, the supervisor has an insane brother who holds the other three bridge players responsible for the death and vows revenge.

In terms of his connections to the genres I’m covering for this series, I mostly associate Ray Milland with several films he made for AIP in the sixties and seventies. What surprises me is how often he seems to pop up in genre movies from the thirties and forties as well. Granted, with a small handful of exceptions (THE UNINVITED, for example), most of these are marginal to the genre, but there are quite a few of them. And even though he isn’t one of the leading performers, here he is again as the man whose death sets the movie in motion.

Though it doesn’t really sound like it from the description, this is one of those “old dark house” films, where several people trapped in an old house are stalked by a killer. It’s also a very good one. It takes itself very seriously indeed; the murderer has a strong savage streak to him, the knife murders are more explicit here than usual for this type of movie, and though it possesses humor, the movie remains more grim than jokey. It also has one of the most suspicious butlers in history, with Halliwell Hobbes giving a great performance in the role. Granted, it is the type of role that screams out “Red Herring”, but I’m not going to let on whether he is or not, because his character is so well used, there will be moments you will wonder about that yourself. Incidentally, the movie also features John Lodge, who, like Ray Milland, would assay the role of Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond one time during the series featuring that character from the thirties.

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