Mystery Classics, Vol. 4 [DVD]

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Synopsis

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

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

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

Cast & Crew

  • Virginia Bruce
    Virginia Bruce - Marge
  • William Lundigan
    William Lundigan - Ken
  • Jonathan Hale
    Jonathan Hale - Director-General
  • Frank Ferguson
    Frank Ferguson - Consul Reither
  • Richard Loo
    Richard Loo - Marshal Yun Usu

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