Secret of the Chateau (1934)

Article 3633 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-11-2011
Posting Date: 7-26-2011
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Featuring Claire Dodd, Alice White, Osgood Perkins
Country: USA
What it is: Mystery

A murderer who kills for rare book editions is on the loose, and a Gutenberg Bible is his or her next target. Will the police inspector be able to spot the murderer?

At about the fifty minute mark of the movie, a policeman makes a passing comment that the mysterious tolling of the bells may be the work of a ghost. Nobody really takes the comment seriously, and this is also pretty late in the game for what has played out up to that point as a straightforward mystery. Therefore, I can safely say consign this movie to the realm of marginalia for its horror content, though the fact that the bells toll mysteriously in the first place and the presence of a hunchback also give it a slight push in that direction. It is, however, a fairly entertaining mystery. Much of what’s fun about it is found in Ferdinand Gottschalk’s performance as the Inspector; he reminds me of Alastair Sim on occasion. The movie also has one of the better comic relief characters I’ve encountered from the period. It’s by no means a classic, but it’s rather enjoyable if you’re in the mood for it.


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