Staying home more during this current medical crisis and it has been a good time to catch up on some classic mysteries. I was unfamiliar with all of these but really enjoyed them.
The Lady Confesses
This 1945 movie stars Mary Beth Hughes and Hugh Beaumont of Leave it To Beaver fame. Apparently Mary Beth Hughes was a well known star but this was the first movie I have seen with her in it so I was unaware of who she was.
In The Lady Confesses she plays Vicki McGuire and she is engaged to marry Larry Craig (Hugh Beaumont). Late one night Vicki’s doorbell rings and a woman identifies herself as Norma, Larry’s wife. Norma has been missing for seven years so everyone assumed that she was dead. She tells Vicki that she will never marry Larry. Events then take a strange turn when Norma is found dead the next day. The police investigate and Larry has a perfect alibi because he was drinking at a nightclub where everyone saw him. This nightclub seems to have a connection to a lot of the people involved . Lucky, the nightclub owner, claims that he never saw Larry there but the singer said he was there. Vicki becomes worried that the police think she might have killed Norma so she decides to go undercover and work at the nightclub to try and gather evidence to clear herself and Larry.
There is a big surprise at the end and I didn’t see it coming. The title is a bit odd because no lady confesses but I really liked this movie and it was fun to see Hugh Beaumont in a very different role.
The Second Woman
This is another movie title that is odd. It doesn’t make sense with what happened in the movie but this is a solid mystery nonetheless. Betsy Drake plays Ellen Foster who meets a handsome architect, Jeff Cohalan (Robert Young), on the train as she is traveling to visit her aunt on the n California coast. Jeff is charming and he is also her aunt’s neighbor and he has built a fabulous ultra modern house on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Unfortunately, Jeff has been experiencing some unexplained accidents. Her aunt’s doctor has warned Ellen that Jeff seems unstable and is probably paranoid and she should steer clear of him. He said that one year ago his fiancee was killed on the night before their wedding. Jeff was driving and the doctor thinks that Jeff’s grief is making him paranoid. Ellen is attracted to Jeff and tries to help him figure out what is actually happening but she then puts herself in danger.
The Second Woman is a good mystery with an eerie feel to it. The opening is reminiscent of Rebecca because Ellen tells us that Cliffhouse is gone and then the story begins. It was fun to see Robert Young in a different role from Father Knows Best and Marcus Welby M.D. I liked the twists and turns in this movie and the ending also had a surprise twist.
This B grade noir made in 1948 is surprisingly good. Leslie Brooks plays society reporter and femme fatale Claire Cummings. Claire has a habit of marrying wealthy men who then die under suspicious circumstances. On the day of her most recent wedding to another very wealthy man, Claire is caught kissing another man. She manages to explain it but on her honeymoon her husband deserts her and flies back to LA after he finds letters that she has written to her old beau, Les. Les has stood by Claire for years and Claire claims to love him but Les lives paycheck to paycheck and she can’t have that. Her new husband immediately starts divorce proceedings but Claire is determined to not let that happen.
She then concocts a bizarre plan to kill him and get away with the perfect murder so that she can move on to her next victim. Leslie Brooks is terrific in this move as a woman men can’t stay away from but should! This movie was apparently made on the cheap but I really enjoyed it.
This 1949 noir with Brian Donlevy has lots of twists. Walter Williams (Donlevy) is a wealthy industrialist who loves his beautiful wife. We can tell from the beginning that his wife, Helen, doesn’t feel quite the same way. In fact, she and her boyfriend are planning to kill Walter. When unsuspecting Walter gives her lover a ride and he tries to kill Walter, things go awry and her lover dies instead. However, in a case of mistaken identity, the police believe it was Walter who died.
His grief at his wife’s treachery is hard for him to to deal with but he stays in another town and follows the case in the newspapers as the police begin to unravel things. A determined police investigator played by veteran actor. Charles Coburn, suspects that something in Helen’s story isn’t adding up and he is determined to uncover things.
There are a lot of twists in this movie and I don’t want to give things away. I really liked the San Francisco setting and some of the other locations. It is well done and worth watching.
Cause for Alarm
Ellen Jones is caring for her ill husband, George, played by Barry Sullivan. Ellen met George in the veterans hospital after the war. George has a heart condition and is sure that Ellen is involved with his doctor and best friend. George is paranoid because nothing is going on between them but he writes a letter to the district attorney accusing his wife and his doctor of trying to kill him. Unsuspecting, Ellen mails the letter for George only to have him tell her what he has done. She then races through her LA neighborhood trying to retrieve the letter. More twists ensue and we can feel Ellen’s panic at being accused of something she would never do. I had never watched a movie with Loretta Young but enjoyed this one.
The Big Bluff
This is another low budget movie form 1955 that I really enjoyed. Valerie Bancroft is a very wealthy woman played by Martha Vickers. She has been given a death sentence because of her heart problems. She decides to make the most of the life she has left and meets gigolo Ricardo (John Bromfield) while she is on a trip. They become inseparable but Ricardo is after her money and can’t wait for her to die. Unfortunately her health begins to improve and Ricardo must resort to other methods.
This movie had some great twists and I really enjoyed it. The picture quality wasn’t the greatest but if you can find it, I think you will like it.