Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Terror (1938)

If you want to see the basic Edgar Wallace formula in action this is the film that will give you the blueprint. This is also the place to turn if you want a great old dark house mystery.

This is the story of a spectacular gold coin robbery carried off by three men. Once its over, the mastermind, a man named O'Shea, turns his pals in and they go to prison vowing to get revenge when they get out. Ten years later they get out and go looking for O'Shea, and the gold, which has never turned up. At this point the film shifts gears to the happenings in and around an old monastery, now turned into a semi-boarding house. Strange people begin showing up, ghostly happenings begin occurring and finally people begin dying...

From the pen of Edgar Wallace comes a fantastical little murder mystery that's very witty and breezy and a great deal of fun. Certainly its better than many in the long series of German films from the 1960's, this is a film that doesn't seem to have gotten a great deal of love.

While the mystery is good, the best part of this film is the acting. What a joy it is to see Bernard Lee, years before Bond, playing a lead. You really get the sense of what his range really was. There's Arthur Wontner who several years earlier had played Sherlock Holmes. And of course Alastair Sim bringing a smile to your face as one of the crooks. There are others in the cast, all of which you've probably seen before but never knew their names, and who are equally good.

Everything and especially everyone comes together to make a super little mystery.

This is a movie to seek out on DVD, there are severl editions out including from Alpha Video, since its one that will certainly give you a good night's entertainment.

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