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

Thursday, June 19, 2014


THE HOUSE OF SECRETS (1936). Director: Roland D. Reed.

Barry Wilding (Leslie Fenton) performs an act of chivalry for a young lady, Julie (Muriel Evans), on shipboard, but the woman refuses to divulge her identity or ever see him again. When Barry learns that he's inherited his uncle's estate, Hawk's Nest, and 10,000 pounds, he goes to the house and is thrown off the property by two men while Julie watches from the shadows. Barry and his detective friend, Tom Starr (Sidney Blackmer), are convinced that crooks have taken over Hawk's Nest, but the truth is much more idiotic. When the "secret" is revealed, you can't understand why everyone couldn't have simply told Barry what was going on and avoided all the angst. There are secret passages, a hidden basement, and a fairly exciting climax when everyone is nearly wiped out by poison gas. As a leading man, Fenton wasn't handsome by Hollywood standards, but he was adept and had authority and charisma. Evans and the others are fine, and Blackmer is, as usual, notable in the role of the detective.

Verdict: Barely acceptable hokum but it strangely holds the attention and has some suspense. **1/2.

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