Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940)

Strange goings on around the Lebanon family manor house have Isla Crane in a tizzy. The family she works for all seem to be hinding secrets. Lady Lebanon seems to be up to something, her son the Lord is being pressured to marry Isla, the footman are acting strange, and there is some sort of weirdness with the family doctor having to do with India. Additionally the architect brought in to fix the estate has eyes for Isla and then there is the problem of the dead body found after a masquerade party.

Twisty turny mystery story based on an Edgar Wallace play moves like the wind.  The film deftly juggles numerous story lines so that it keeps one watching even as things get a little too obtuse- there is so much going on that you kind of have to throw up your hands and just go with it...which is kind of par for the course for Edgar Wallace's work which frequently seems gets impossibly knotted. In the Wallace stories I've read the plots were more like amusement park thrill rides that spin you all about before depositing you somewhere safe. I don't think I've ever worked out who did it in one of his stories for any reason other than dumb luck.

The film gets bonus points for not being overly stuffy or static which is something that many British films of the period could be. If I didn't know this was produced in England I'd have sworn it was from Hollywood.

If you like black and white mysteries this is one to track down.

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