|PHANTOM KILLER (director: William Beaudine; screenwriter: Karl Brown/story by Albert DeMond; cinematographer: Marcel LePicard; editor: Jack Ogilvie; music: Frank Sanucci; cast: Dick Purcell (Edward Clark), Joan Woodbury (Barbara Mason), John Hamilton (John G. Harrison), Warren Hymer (Sgt. Corrigan), Isabel Lamal (Mabel Corrigan), Mantan Moreland (Nicodemus), Elliott Sullivan (Davy Rigby), J. Farrell MacDonald (Police Captain), Gayne Whitman (District Attorney), Kenneth Harlan (Lieut. Brady), George Lewis (Kramer); Runtime: 61; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: A. W. Hackel; Monogram Pictures; 1942)|
|"A decent Monogram whodunit."
by Dennis Schwartz
decent Monogram whodunit, directed with B-film skill
by the always irrepressible William "One Shot"
Beaudine ("Foreign Agent"/"Lassie's Great
Adventure"/"East Side Kids - Clancy Street Boys").
It's a remake of The Sphinx (1933). Writer Karl
Brown keeps it film noir honest. It's based on a story
by Albert DeMond.
district attorney (Gayne Whitman) encourages
the assistant district attorney, Edward
Clark (Dick Purcell),
to indict the community's most respected member, a
deaf-mute philanthropist, John G. Harrison (John Hamilton), as
the cold-blooded strangler killer of the president of the
Cromwell Finance Corp. The black janitor
Nicodemus (Mantan Moreland) tells the lawmen he gave
a light for his cigar on the night of the murder,
when the deaf-mute emerged from the victim's office
and verbally responded to him. Clark also learns that similar
murders were committed in other cities on the
evenings that Harrison was attending charity
amoral district attorney encourages Ed to indict
Harrison, hoping that he will fail and thereby not
take over his job. At the trial a physician
testifies the accused cannot speak, and Harrison is
found not guilty. Ed quits in order to investigate
on his own, as he feels a guilty man was set free.
An informant named Davy (Elliott
Sullivan), enticed by the
$5,000 reward money put up by Harrison to find the
killer, claims he knows who did the crime. Before
meeting with Ed, Davy meets with Harrison and
threatens to rat him out unless paid a big sum of
money. Later Harrison visits Davy in his room, and
Davy is found strangled to death. The next vic is police
lieutenant Brady (Kenneth
Harlan), suspicious of Harrison when he
observes a piano in the mute's apartment. The cop is
killed after trying to get a search warrant for
Ed's main squeeze, newspaper reporter Barbara Mason
(Joan Woodbury), is
granted an interview with Harrison, and is impressed
with his life story and believes his alibis that he
was at public events during both murders. She
cools to Ed, as she believes Harrison innocent and
that her boyfriend is unfairly harassing a model
citizen. But Ed is sure Harrison did the crimes and
pursues his main suspect, even if it means losing
the love of his life.
trick ending might turn off as many as it turns on,
though the trick piano is a good one.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ