20th/Fox tried to tap into the profitable B-pic Horror market with this John Brahm shocker and companion release DR. RENAULT’S SECRET/’42. Neither really turns the trick, but this modified werewolf tale is the better bet. More a forensic detective yarn than supernatural chiller, it’s closer to Fox’s Sherlock Holmes outing, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES/’39, than anything out of Universal Studio. Though its probably most interesting as a preview for two great suspensers Brahm would soon make @ Fox.* Here, we get a lot of pseudo-scientific research, stormy weather, a gloomy mansion set on a cliff, bad comic relief, and only brief glimpses of the monster; someone had been doing their homework prep on this one. But formula & atmosphere only gets you halfway there, and the story never comes together. Some of this stems from a cast of also-rans who can’t find the right tone for the genre, but more from relationships without much emotional investment. It’s easy to watch, even easier to forget.
DOUBLE-BILL: *Unsung & underused, John Brahm would soon drift toward a career in episodic tv. But not before giving a taste of what might have been with THE LODGER/’44 and his masterful HANGOVER SQUARE/’45. Both starring unlikely leading man Laird Cregar, George Sanders and, in HANGOVER, a Bernard Herrmann score for the ages.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: What’s with the smiley faces on the poster?