|J. Carrol Naish (center) and cast|
Dr. Larry Forbes (John Shepperd aka Shepperd Strudwick of All the King's Men) has come to a small European village to meet up with his fiancee, Madelon (Lynne Roberts) and her Uncle Robert (George Zucco), who is also a scientist. Others on Robert's large estate include the strange Noel (J. Carrol Naish of The Kissing Bandit), who is a manservant; the butler Henri (Jean Del Val); and the gardener, Rogell (Mike Mazurki). These last two have criminal pasts, but neither of them is as weird as Noel, who is hiding a dreadful secret along with the doctor. Then the brutal strangulation murders begin ... Dr. Renault's Secret was clearly inspired in part by H. G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (itself filmed as Island of Lost Souls) just as both properties inspired Captive Wild Woman and its sequels. While Renault hardly gets points for originality, it is distinguished by brisk and adroit direction, a good score (Emil Newman and David Raksin), excellent cinematography (Virgil Miller), and a terrific lead performance by Naish, who is both pitiable and menacing. The other cast members are all more than adequate, and Zucco is, as usual, perfect. Arthur Shields [South Sea Woman] plays a police inspector and Ray Corrigan is seen in flashbacks as a gorilla. 20th Century-Fox gave the pic a handsome production, and despite its inadequacies and unacknowledged debt to Wells, it is an entertaining horror flick. Harry Lachman also directed the Laurel and Hardy masterpiece Our Relations.
Verdict: One more ape-man never hurts. ***.