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

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Sidney Toler and Helen Beverly
MEETING AT MIDNIGHT (aka Black Magic/1944). Director: Phil Rosen.

"Mr. Chan, I've been leavin' ever since I got here." -- Birmingham Brown.

During a seance, the lights go out and the medium is found shot to death. The strange thing is that an autopsy reveals there's a gunshot wound in the body but no bullet! [The explanation for this is clever even if today's forensics people might scoff.] The suspects include the widow, Mrs. Bonner (Jacqueline deWit of The Damned Don't Cry); Norma Duncan (Helen Beverly), who bore the man a grudge; assistants Tom and Vera Starky (Charles Jordan and Claudia Dell); mousy fan manufacturer, Edwards (Harry Depp); and two victims of blackmail, Hamlin (Frank Jaquet) and Harriet Green (Geraldine Wall), who had a brief fling with the murdered man. The cops are Rafferty (Ralph Peters) and Matthews (Joseph Crehan of The Case of the Black Parrot). A suspenseful scene has another victim hypnotized into throwing herself off of a roof, something which nearly happens to Charlie in the film's best sequence and climax. Birmingham Brown (Mantan Moreland of On the Spot) is along for the ride but Tommy Chan has been replaced by his sister Frances (coincidentally played by a not-very-talented actress named, believe it or not, Francis Chan. A decade earlier she also played a Chan daughter in the lost film Charlie Chan's Greatest Case with Warner Oland.). This is another rather mediocre Monogram cheapie but it does pick up a bit towards the end. NOTE: Actress Jacquline deWit spelled it "DeWit," "de Wit" and probably others.

Verdict: Neither Charlie's best nor worst. **1/2.

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