|THE MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR (director: Ben Stoloff; screenwriter: Richard Weil; cinematographer: Henry Sharp; editor: Clarence Kolster; music: Howard Jackson, William Lava, Hans Sommer; cast: John Loder (Sir Henry Leland), Eleanor Parker (Letty Carstairs), Bruce Lester (Lt. Christopher "Kit" Hilton), Lester Matthews (Dr. Frederick Holmes), Forrester Harvey (Hugh Penhryn), Matt Willis (Bart Redmond), Phyllis Barry, (Ruby), David Cyde (Tom Andrews), Harold de Becker (Peddler), Frank Mayo (Simon Tewksbury), Leo White (Headless man), (); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Jacobs; WB; 1943-B/W)|
more "A" film than "B" film."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A modest patriotic horror B film drama set in England during World War II. Ben Stoloff ("Take It Or Leave It"/"Bermuda Mystery") makes great use of the foggy conditions to keep it atmospheric, and the acting is more "A" film than "B" film. The screenplay by Richard Weil might have a few plot holes, but it's fast paced and the narrative is decent.
The mysterious Dr. Frederick Holmes.(Lester Matthews) is walking through the foggy Cornish moors at night and gets a lift from a peddler (Harold de Becker) to the cursed mining town of Morgan's Head. The chatty peddler (Harold de Becker) tells the traveler the back story of why the Wickham Mine is abandoned. At the pub one of the patrons named Hugh (Forrester Harvey) tells the guest more details about why the mine is cursed. He explains there was once a feud that occurred between tin miners Orcutt and Morgan. According to legend, Orcutt killed Morgan during a fight over a claim and cut off his head, and now Morgan's ghost wanders the moors beheading those who enter the mine. The small village is named after Morgan.
The locals become upset when Holmes expresses his intention to visit the mine the next day.
The main characters involved are Lt. Christopher "Kit" Hilton. He's the boyfriend of Letty Carstairs (Eleanor Parker), the niece of the masked pub owner Simon Tewksbury (Frank Mayo). He wears the mask to cover his face from a scar received from a mining mishap. Bart Raymond (Matt Willis) is a strong but mentally challenged man, whom Letty sends into the mine to protect Holmes on his visit. The big reveal is that Holmes is a mining engineer who was sent by the British government to get the mine open again because there's a wartime need for the tin. Things get touchy when it's learned there's a Nazi spy among the locals staging this headless ghost myth so the mine would not open.
It's capably executed and gets off to a chilling beginning, but the tale is too far-fetched to be totally believed and soon falls back into being a routine small town crime drama.
REVIEWED ON 7/16/2018 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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