Tag Archives: Addison Richards

Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943, William Beaudine)

About two minutes after I finished watching Mystery of the 13th Guest, I realized no one ever solves the titular mystery. There’s a mysterious thirteenth guest in the first scene; the guest is absent and his or her identity is never revealed. Tim Ryan’s police lieutenant is supposed to be sort of dumb (but smarter than his hilarious, completely moronic–and narcoleptic–sidekick Frank Faylen), but Dick Purcell’s private investigator is supposed to walk on water and he never mentions it either.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a film where the title introduces a mystery totally unrelated to the film’s actual plot. 13th Guest‘s mystery is a relatively simple one–which family member is killing off the other family members to get an inheritance. Nothing to do with the missing thirteenth guest.

The mystery itself isn’t bad, but the plot is idiotic. Ryan and Purcell discover the murderer’s method of electrocuting his victims and they leave it set up because they’re too busy. They also don’t tell anyone.

It doesn’t help Purcell’s just terrible. Ryan’s not very good, but he’s competent. Purcell makes the film a chore to get through–the necessity of a solid character investigating a mystery is now clear to me.

Beaudine is an inoffensive director. He doesn’t bring anything to the film but doesn’t take anything away. Unfortunately, that description also broadly applies to the film. Damsel in distress Helen Parrish, for example, is genially useless.

The best performances are Lloyd Ingraham and Jacqueline Dalya in very small roles.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by William Beaudine; screenplay by Tim Ryan, Charles R. Marion and Arthur Hoerl, based on a novel by Armitage Trail; director of photography, Mack Stengler; edited by Richard C. Currier; produced by Lindsley Parsons; released by Monogram Pictures.

Starring Dick Purcell (Johnny Smith), Helen Parrish (Marie Morgan), Tim Ryan (Police Lt. Burke), Frank Faylen (Speed Dugan), Johnny Duncan (Harold Morgan), Jon Dawson (Tom Jackson), Paul McVey (Adam Morgan), Jacqueline Dalya (Marjory Morgan), Cyril Ring (Barksdale) and Addison Richards (Jim, District Attorney).


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The Mummy's Curse (1944, Leslie Goodwins)

The Mummy’s Curse feels like a Universal attempt at a Val Lewton picture. It’s from 1944, so Lewton’s modern horror pictures had already come out. It’s hard to believe Universal changed their approach to monster movies so radically between this picture and the previous Mummy entry. Curse is set on the bayou in Louisiana (Lewton did non-standard, at least for the budget, settings) and it principally concerns a reincarnated ancient Egyptian princess with amnesia. She even resembles Cat People lead Simone Simon.

Unfortunately, it’s still a movie about a mummy walking around and killing people. Worse, the make-up on the Mummy is pretty weak this time around–there’s a big eye hole in the mask this time. Previously, one could pretend the Mummy was wrapped in ancient cloth… now it’s way too clear it’s a rubber mask.

These elements–though the Louisiana setting is problematic, but mostly because it’s an affected locale instead of an actual one–aside, the film doesn’t have much going for it. The locations are weak, except the criminally underused Cajun bar, and Virgil Miller’s cinematography is poor. His day for night shots–the film’s full of them–are awful.

As the princess, Virginia Christine is best when silent, though when she awakens is easily the film’s best sequence. Unfortunately, she gets dropped from the movie for more Mummy action.

It’s interesting, even compelling at times, but it fails. No one knows how to present the good ideas–not the director, not the writers.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie Goodwins; screenplay by Bernard Schubert, based on a story and adaptation by Leon Abrams and Dwight V. Babcock; director of photography, Virgil Miller; edited by Fred R. Feitshans Jr.; music by William Lava and Paul Sawtell; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Kharis), Peter Coe (Dr. Ilzor Zandaab), Virginia Christine (Princess Ananka), Kay Harding (Betty Walsh), Dennis Moore (Dr. James Halsey), Martin Kosleck (Ragheb), Kurt Katch (Cajun Joe), Addison Richards (Pat Walsh), Holmes Herbert (Dr. Cooper), Charles Stevens (Achilles), William Farnum (Michael, the Sacristan) and Napoleon Simpson (Goobie).


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Criminal Court (1946, Robert Wise)

If you took a film noir and removed the noir, you might have something like Criminal Court. The plot is noir. An upstanding attorney (Tom Conway) accidentally kills mobster (Robert Armstrong) and runs off, unknowingly leaving his girlfriend (Martha O’Driscoll) to take the wrap.

What does Conway do? Does he try to falsify evidence to save his girlfriend? Does he sacrifice? Nope. He confesses and when no one believes him, he sort of just sits passively through the rest of the movie and hopes something will make it all better.

There’s no angst, no guilt. Conway even tells the district attorney he didn’t report the incident because Armstrong brought it on himself. It is, apparently, an attempt to mix noir with righteousness. And, wow, does it fail.

What makes Court so awkward is what it does with the space left empty by the lack of internal conflict. It does nothing. The movie only runs an hour. It doesn’t try comedy, it doesn’t try introducing a subplot (there aren’t any in the film), it doesn’t try anything at all.

Until Armstrong dies, Criminal Court has a lot of potential. Armstrong’s just great here. Conway’s fine, but unable to overcome the script. O’Driscoll’s writing is worse, but her performance is still weak.

The supporting cast is excellent, Steve Brodie and Joe Devlin in particular.

Wise’s direction has occasional flourishes–a dolly shot here and there–but it’s fairly static and unimaginative overall, as though he couldn’t feign interest either.

Cute finale though.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Wise; screenplay by Lawrence Kimble, based on a story by Earl Felton; director of photography, Frank Redman; edited by Robert Swink; music by Paul Sawtell; produced by Martin Mooney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Tom Conway (Steve Barnes), Martha O’Driscoll (Georgia Gale), June Clayworth (Joan Mason), Robert Armstrong (Vic Wright), Addison Richards (District Attorney Gordon), Pat Gleason (Joe West), Steve Brodie (Frankie Wright), Robert Warwick (Mr. Marquette), Phil Warren (Bill Brannegan) and Joe Devlin (Brownie).


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