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Mystery Classics [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections
  • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

Synopsis

Murder by Television
One of Bela Lugosi's least remembered films, this ultra low-budget whodunit with science fiction overtones features the murder of a professor who had recently perfected the new invention of television. Suspects are plentiful and include Bela Lugosi's rivaling academician Dr. Perry. Alas, the good doctor proves yet another Red Herring and is soon enough found stabbed to death himself. Or is he? Perry suddenly appears to have risen from the grave and the real culprit quickly confesses. Produced by perhaps Hollywood's cheapest entrepreneur, William Pizor, Murder by Television was filmed at the low-rent Talisman Studios and came complete with a song, "I had the Right Idea", composed by future Academy Award winning songwriter Oliver Wallace and performed by June Collyer. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Terror by Night
The penultimate entry in Universal's Sherlock Holmes series, Terror by Night takes place almost exclusively on a speeding train, en route from London to Edinburgh. Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is on board to protect a valuable diamond from the clutches of master criminal Colonel Sebastian Moran. The trouble is, Moran is a master of disguise, and could be just about any one of the other passengers. Murder and mayhem plague the train excursion before Holmes can successfully complete his mention. Poor old Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) is a bit denser than usual here, though his ingenuousness is cleverly woven into the script. Alan Mowbray, who played Inspector Lestrade in the 1932 Clive Brook adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, is seen in a pivotal supporting role. One of three Holmes entries currently in the public domain, Terror by Night is also available in a computer-colorized version (but stick with the original black-and-white). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Death Kiss
While Tonart Studios is filming a gangster movie, one of the actors is killed in a shooting accident. After several other incidents occur, police begin to think of sabotage. Their list of suspects includes the studio chief (Alexander Carr), his manager (Bela Lugosi), the director of the film (Edward Van Sloan) and an actress (Adrienne Ames). ~ John Bush, Rovi

Dressed to Kill
Based on the prolific Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, Sherlock Holmes is on the job again. This time the inmate of a British prison has incorporated stolen Bank of England engraving plates into a series of music boxes he has made and multiple criminals are out to find them. Holmes must be first. It's a weak, thin plot for the final of the Holmes/Watson series but it is still a joy to see Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce working off one another. ~ Tana Hobart, Rovi

A Study in Scarlet
Sherlock Holmes and Watson solve a puzzling case in which a bloody foreign word is found beside a murder victim. The plot has little to do with author Doyle's original story of the same name. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Bluebeard
Bluebeard casts the saturnine John Carradine as Gaston, a popular painter in 19th century Paris. Unbeknownst to the authorities, Gaston is also the serial killer of beautiful young women who they have been seeking for several months. Whenever a girl fails to come up to Gaston's standards of perfection, she is summarily strangled to death. Gaston's latest model is the gorgeous Lucille (Jean Parker), who once she learns her employer's horrible secret courageously vows to bring him to justice. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

State Department File 649
Those scurrilous Chinese communists are up to their old tricks in the 1949 flagwaver State Department - File 649. William Lundigan plays Ken, an operative of the U.S. Foreign Service stationed in North China. Ken is one of several people trapped in a remote village by evil warlord Yun Usu (Richard Loo), who intends to sell his services to the highest bidder, be they Red or otherwise. Our hero manages to get a message out to the Free World before the film's operatically self-sacrificial climax. The characterizations are of the cardboard variety and the dialogue is straight out of Fu Manchu. Still, State Department - File 649 is a fascinating encapsulation of postwar political propaganda. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Torture Ship
Torture Ship is a strange amalgam of crime thriller and horror chiller that can't quite make up its mind what it wants to be. Irving Pichel plays Dr. Herbert Stander, a well-meaning physician who becomes a little too much the single-minded visionary. Convinced that criminality is a result of a glandular condition, he assembles an array of escaped convicts -- from small-time grifters to murderers and psychopaths who have nothing to lose (or so they think) -- and takes them out to sea. The doctor begins performing nasty operations and other (usually lethal) experiments on them. The ship's captain (Lyle Talbot) allows this to go on, believing in the doctor's better nature. The criminals know what's going on, but between the doctor's own strong-arm men and the unwillingness of the crew to intervene, they're not able to protect themselves. It's only when Talbot's character gets a first-hand glimpse of the doctor's work that he raises a hand against him, ordering the crew, working in tandem with the wanted men and women, to take control of the ship from the doctor, who is destroyed by his own intended victims. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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