The Mysterious Doctor (1943)

Article 1886 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2006
Posting Date: 10-11-2006
Directed by Benjamin Stoloff
Featuring John Loder, Elanor Parker, Bruce Lester

The residents of the town of Morgan’s Head refuse to work the tin mine because it is haunted by a headless ghost who decaptitates its victims. Then, when a doctor on a walking tour arrives in town and vows to visit the mine, the headless ghost strikes again…

I think one of the reasons not many movies are made about headless ghosts is that the special effects are generally unconvincing; in almost every one I’ve seen, the headless ghost is played by someone wearing a headless ghost costume which extends the torso up over the head, but this always makes the arms look like they’re attached far too low on the body and the result is too jarring to be really convincing. Still, it is nice to watch an old-fashioned horror movie again; though it was made at Warners, it really looks like a Universal movie, what with all the swirling fog. The story is a little on the obvious side, though, if you consider the following facts.

1) The movie was made during the war.

2) In order to win the war, the country needs more tin.

3) The tin mine is not being worked because of the headless ghost, a circumstance which must greatly help the Nazis.

Given these facts and a little experience with Scooby-Doo style mysteries, I’ll leave it to you to figure out the likelihood of there being any real supernatural manifestation at work here. And you should be able to figure out one of the final twists in the story if you find it hard to believe that the title character would vanish from the story at the twenty-minute mark, especially if you’ve taken note of the innkeeper’s costume.

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