Behind the Mask (1932)

US / 68 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: John Francis Dillon Pr: Harry Cohn Scr: Jo Swerling, Dorothy Howell Story: “In the Secret Service” (unpublished) by Jo Swerling Cine: Teddy Tetzlaff Cast: Jack Holt, Constance Cummings, Boris Karloff, Claude King, Bertha Mann, Edward Van Sloan, Willard Robertson, Tommy Jackson.

A few weeks ago I posted here about the 1946 movie Behind the Mask, which is one of the dire Monogram series featuring the pulps character The Shadow. I thought it might be interesting to check out its 1932 namesake, especially since it doesn’t feature The Shadow (although the arch-villain is at one point referred to as “a phantom, a shadow”!). My interest was further piqued when I was reminded that the cast includes Constance Cummings and Boris Karloff.

Jack Holt as ‘Quinn’ (left) and Boris Karloff as Henderson

The initial premise is familiar to anyone who watches too many old crime movies. A Secret Service agent, Jack Hart (Holt), is incarcerated in Sing Sing under a nom de guerre, Quinn, in order to ingratiate himself with another prisoner, Jim Henderson (Karloff), who’s known to be part of a major drug-running ring. The ruse works: Henderson is keen the two work together after their release and, when Quinn proposes to bust out of jail on his own, gives him an address where he’ll be “looked after.”

Constance Cummings as Julie

So Quinn fakes a breakout and a police chase, and ends up at a house occupied by senior gang member Arnold (King) and Arnold’s unwitting daughter Julie (Cummings), plus a housekeeper/nurse placed there by the gang’s mysterious leader to spy on them, Edwards (Mann). Continue reading

Murder on the Campus (1933)

vt On the Stroke of Nine
US / 73 minutes / bw / Chesterfield Dir: Richard Thorpe Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Andrew Moses Story: The Campanile Murders (1933) by Whitman Chambers Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Shirley Grey, Charles Starrett, J. Farrell MacDonald, Ruth Hall, Dewey Robinson, Maurice Black, Edward Van Sloan, Tane Keckley (i.e., Jane Keckley), Richard Catlett, Harry Bowen, Al Bridge, Harrison Greene, Henry Hall, Frank LaRue.

Lillian Voyne (Grey) is working her way through college by singing at a nightclub, the Lido. One night she hitches a lift from crime reporter Bill Bartlett (Starrett) of the Times–Star, who’s sweet on her, to go meet Malcolm “Mal” Jannings, chime-ringer for the bells in the campanile on the local college campus. Around about the time she’s supposed to meet the man, a shot rings out; when Police Captain Ed Kyne (MacDonald) and Detective Sergeant Charlie Lorrimer (Robinson) explore the campanile, with Bill in tow, they find Jannings shot dead but no sign of the killer. Yet Bill can testify to the fact that no one has left the campanile. It seems like an impossible murder . . .

Charles Starrett as Bill and Shirley Grey as Lillian

Continue reading