Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


THE PANTHER'S CLAW (1942). Director: William Beaudine.

A mysterious figure known as the Black Panther sends letters demanding money to various members of an opera company, including a little wigmaker named Everett P. Digberry (Byron Foulger). Sidney Blackmer of Rosemary's Baby is the police commissioner, and Rick Vallin in his assistant, while Gerta Rozan and Thornton Edwards play a soprano and a fired baritone respectively. The trouble with this creaky old movie is that the intriguing premise it starts out with -- the business with the "Black Panther" -- is summarily dropped in favor of a much more prosaic mystery which has far too few suspects to be interesting -- or entertaining. The picture does give the likable, talented Foulger a big role, Blackmer is his usual fine self, and Billy Mitchell is [stereotypical] fun as porter Nicodemus J. Brown. Fougler also appeared in the serial The Master Key, the late Charlie Chan film The Chinese Ring, and indeed had a long list of credits.

Verdict: Watch Perry Mason instead. **

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