Mystery, Vols. 1 & 2 [2 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Bulldog Drummond's Peril
Though John Barrymore is top-billed in Bulldog Drummond's Peril, the aging matinee idol is consigned to the supporting role of Inspector Nielsen. Drummond is portrayed by John Howard; once more, he is on the verge of marrying the ever-patient Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell). And yet again, the ceremony is interrupted by a late-breaking crime. The villains this time are trying to steal synthetic diamonds. Bulldog Drummond's Peril was the 5th in Paramount's B-picture "Drummond" series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bulldog Drummond Comes Back
In the second of Paramount's "Bulldog Drummond" thrillers, Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond (John Howard) is finally about to marry longtime fiancée Phyllis Clavering (Louise Campbell) when the girl is kidnapped. The hijackers, Mikhail Valdin (J. Carroll Naish) and his sister, Erena Soldanis (Helen Freeman), are wanted for the murder of an American millionaire, and Scotland Yard Inspector Neilson (John Barrymore) warns Bulldog that he may be next. But the intrepid hero pays no heed and is soon off on a dangerous journey that culminates at the Mere, a supposed haunted house. Bulldog Drummond Comes Back was based on H.C. "Sapper" McNeile's 1928 novel The Female of the Species, who, an opening credit warns, is "more deadly than the male." ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

A Shriek in the Night
The second of two low-budget murder melodramas starring Ginger Rogers and Lyle Talbot, A Shriek in the Night is not quite as good as the first (The Thirteenth Guest), but it far outclasses most other poverty-row thrillers of its period. The titular nocturnal shriek is heard just before a wealthy philanthropist falls from his penthouse balcony to his death. Virtually everybody in the apartment building comes under suspicion when it is determined that this "accidental" death was no accident. Rival reporters Pat Morgan (Rogers) and Ted Rand (Talbot) spend most of the picture snooping around where they don't belong, the better to outscoop one another. Meanwhile, the already baffled police become more flummoxed when three additional murders occur -- each preceded by a cryptic letter sent to the victim, stating "You Will Get It!" The method of execution turns out to be asphyxiation, but how is this being done? And better yet, why is this being done, and by whom? The solution was unfortunately tipped off in the film's lobby posters, which showed the unconscious heroine being carried off by the actor who turns out to be the killer. Even so, A Shriek in the Night remains an entertaining whodunit, with a pre-Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers doing a great job exhibiting stark, screaming terror. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mr. Moto's Last Warning
Japanese detective Mr. Moto finds himself hip-deep in international espionage in this adventure tale. In Port Said, a pair of rogues -- French-born Fabian (Ricardo Cortez) and Englishman Norvel (George Sanders) -- are working for a nameless foreign government and devise a scheme to sabotage French ships passing through the Suez Canal. The criminals plan to leave false clues implicating British agents in hopes of sparking a war between the two nations. Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre), posing as a local shopkeeper after faking his own death to avoid suspicion, is assigned to stop them before any lives (or vessels) can be lost. John Carradine and Virginia Field also appear in this, the sixth of eight films that would feature Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Scream in the Night
Although released after The Shadow of Silk Lennox, this ultra low-budget mystery thriller was the first film in which Creighton Chaney used the billing Lon Chaney, Jr. The actor was persuaded to change his name by producer Ray Kirkwood, who promised to make 24 action melodramas with him as the star. Only two were actually made, however, and Scream in the Night did not enjoy a wide release until 1943, when Chaney had become Universal's newest horror sensation. Detectives Jack Wilson (Chaney) and Wu Ting (Philip Ahn) are tracking the famous jewel thief Johnny Fly (Manuel Lopez) to Singapore, where Fly has stolen a priceless ruby belonging to lovely Edith Bentley (Sheila Terry). Wu Ting is murdered by one of Fly's underlings, the deformed Butch Curtain (also Chaney), and Edith gets herself kidnapped. Bearing some resemblance to the killer, Wilson manages to infiltrate the gang and free the girl. Kirkwood and director Fred Newmeyer obviously counted on Chaney, Jr. to deliver the goods as the deformed Butch Curtain, but Lon was not in a league with his legendary father no matter how hard he tried. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

British Intelligence
Though set during WW1, British Intelligence was obviously thrown together to capitalize on the outbreak of WW2. A remake of the 1930 espionager Three Faces East, the film stars Boris Karloff as Valder, the sinister butler of a British cabinet minister. It is quite possible that Valder is a German spy, and equally likely that the mysterious Helene von Lorbeer (Margaret Lindsay) is likewise working for the enemy. In fact, the audience is never quite certain who the good guys and bad guys really are until the climax, which takes place during a German zeppelin raid of London. As a balm to 1940 audiences, the film includes an early comedy scene in which German military protocol is upset by a clumsy corporal (Willy Kaufman) who bears a startling resemblance to a certain Nazi dictator. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bulldog Drummond Escapes
Paramount's "Bulldog Drummond" series got off to a start with 1937's Bulldog Drummond Escapes. Up-and-coming Ray Milland stars as soldier-of-fortune Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, who on this occasion comes to the aid of pretty heiress Phyllis Clavering (Heather Angel). The heroine is being held against her will by scheming "family friend" Merridew (Porter Hall), who hopes to get his mitts on her inheritance. With the help of his silly friend Algy (Reginald Denny) and Scotland Yard inspector Nielsen (Sir Guy Standing), Drummond manages to rescue Phyllis several times -- and, reciprocally, is rescued by her on one occasion. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
The fourth of Arthur Wonter's quintet of Sherlock Holmes films, Triumph of Sherlock Holmes was a fairly faithful adaptation of Conan Doyle's The Valley of Fear. This time, Holmes (Wontner) and Dr. Watson (Ian Fleming -- not the James Bond author!) investigate a mysterious murder at Birlstone Castle. The killings seem to be tied in with a secret American society of coal-miners called the Scowlers. The architect of all this skullduggery is that "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty (the magnificent Lyn Harding), who has conspired with an American gangster (Ben Welden) to assassinate the Pinkerton agent responsible for breaking the back of the Scowlers. There's very little in the way of mystery in Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, but it scores on its full quotient of thrills and chills. Originally 84 minutes, the film was cut to 75 for its American release. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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