|MIRACLES FOR SALE (director: Tod Browning; screenwriters: based on the novel "Death From a Top Hat" by Clayton Rawson/Harry Ruskin/Marion Parsonnet/James Edward Grant; cinematographer: Charles Lawton; editor: Fred Smith; music: William Axt; cast: Robert Young (Michael Morgan), Florence Rice (Judy Barclay), Frank Craven (Dad Morgan), Lee Bowman (La Claire), Cliff Clark (Inspector Gavigan), Henry Hull (Dave Duvallo), William Demarest (Quinn), Astrid Allwyn (Mrs. Zelma LaClaire), Frederic Worlock (Doctor Sabbatt ), Gloria Holden (Madame Rapport), Walter Kingsford (Colonel Watrous), Harold Minjir (Prof. Tauro), Charles Lane (Hotel clerk); Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: J.J. Cohn; MGM; 1939)|
particularly exciting, it's nevertheless a
serviceable crime drama."
by Dennis Schwartz
last film for Tod Browning ("Dracula"/"Freaks"/"The
Unknown") is in the mode of a Charlie Chan detective
thriller. It's based on the 1938
novel "Death From a Top Hat" by
Clayton Rawson. The writers are Harry
Ruskin, Marion Parsonnet and James Edward Grant.
Too bad the writing and directing is so stilted,
because the whodunit had a good cast and had the
potential to be a good crime drama if properly
Mike Morgan (Robert Young) is a retired
magician residing in NYC. He earns his keep creating
magical acts for other magicians. In other
words, for entertainment purposes he creates
miracles for sale. Morgan, also, has earned a
rep for uncovering fake mediums who thrive on cheating
the pretty Judy Barclay (Florence Rice)
escapes a man following her by running into Morgan's
workplace studio, she gets his attention by asking his
help in debunking the psychic Madame Rapport (Gloria
Holden). The protective Morgan
reluctantly agrees when a demonology expert, the
sinister Dr. Sabbat (Frederic Worlock),
invites the two to his seance. When they show up
separately, they find Sabbat's hotel room chain-locked
and when they break in find him strangled to death and
lying inside a devil's circle. Morgan calls Inspector
Gavigan (Cliff Clark), and he's assisted by Quinn (William
Demarest) in the investigation.
bunch of magicians are suspects (Lee
Bowman, Henry Hull
and Harold Minjir).
Due to the detective work of Morgan and his magic
skills, the case is cracked when a trap is set by
Morgan and he uses his magic skills to get the killer.
not particularly exciting, it's nevertheless a
serviceable crime drama.
REVIEWED ON 8/8/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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