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

Thursday, November 7, 2013


SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM (1933). Director: Kurt Neumann.

"It must be terrible to be a man and have to pretend to be brave."

At a birthday party for his beautiful daughter, Irene (Gloria Stuart), Robert von Helldorf (Lionel Atwill) tells his guests -- Walter (Paul Lukas), Frank (Onslow Stevens) and Thomas (William Janney) -- the story of the blue room in the old castle in which he resides: over the years more than one person has been found dead in the locked room, including his own sister. Thomas suggests that each man (all of whom are in love with the quite lovely Irene) spend the night in the room to prove their bravery. Of course it's no surprise when the first of them turns up missing in the morning, the room still locked. [Without giving anything away, everyone assumes he's gone out the window into the moat twenty feet below, yet he had a key which worked on either side of the door and could easily have exited the room and locked the door behind him.] Then another of the suitors spends the night in the room and ... A police commissioner (Edward Arnold) is called in to find out what's up, and the suspects include the butler, Paul (Robert Barrat of Lily Turner), the maid, Betty (Muriel Kirkland), the chauffeur, Max (Russell Hopton), and the very nervous cook, Mary (Elizabeth Patterson). There's also a weird stranger on the loose scaring the wits out of Irene. The secret of the Blue Room doesn't come as that big of a surprise, but the climactic chase in long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle is exciting. Secret of the Blue Room is entertaining, atmospheric, and reasonably well-acted by all. Neumann also directed Kronos and many others.

Verdict: A bit creaky but fun. **1/2.

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