LOVL?


A nice English working girl - the sort of wren you find looking sweet and demure in an office run by a whiskered old scold - wins the lottery, and gets the immense sum of, oh, a THOUSAND POUNDS or some such mad sum. Naturally, she falls in love with a dashing stranger straight away, right? Well, she's engaged. So that plot point's out. No, she'll marry him, live happily ever after, and -

Oh, who am I kidding. The money lets her send her aged aunt to Brighton to live, and like all newly rich young ladies, she lets aunty's room to let. Who should answer the ad? Dr. Frankenstein Holmes!

 

 

She falls for him right away, and who wouldn't? The man can really sling the gab. Romantic, dashing, well-spoken - well, just give a listen.

 

 

The fiancee happens to return - from the Sudan of all places - in the middle of the interview with the lodger; Basil Rathbone excuses himself. The happily reunited couple hits the skids right away, because the husband doesn't like the fact that his wife has more money, and he won't be the primary breadwinner. Boo hoo. Go pout and be lonely, then.

 

You know exactly where this is going, don't you? She heads to France to collect her lottery winnings, and by Jove Basil tags along on the boat, using the long sea voyage to woo the young lady. Marriage follows. And so on. I have no patience for stories like this; I suppose it's the modern perspective, but the wife-in-love-with-a-sociopathic-cad storyline, complete with moody silences and careful maneuvering and obvious lies ("That was my solicitor on the phone. They're holding up my South American bank draft") is played out for me. Leave the guy!

But he's not just a scam artist; he's a maniacal serial killer. Dig this, and wait for the second hysterical "GET OUT!"

 

Grieg: sometimes it's your first and only clue.

For the genre, and the times, it's good; it's not one of those pieces of creaky wet wood that compose most of the 100 Mysteries collection. Credit Rathbone, who - and correct me if this makes no sense - never seems more in control then when he's out of control. He's excellent as the suave fellow of continental charms; he's just as good as a ranting maniac. The ending, where the bad husband loses it altogether, is such a masterpiece of overacting you're amazed ham didn't ooze out of the projection booth like the Blob - and it has a trick ending with a trick reverse, too, which you don't see often in these movies.

(The same director, Rowland Lee, would reteam with Rathbone the next year for "Son of Frankenstein," my favorite of the series' sequels, and another piece Rathbonian madness.)