Monday, February 16, 2015

Fog Island, Murder, Booby-Traps, Seances, Damsels in Distress...

On a foggy island off New York, stands an old creaky mansion.  A perfect setting for a murder mystery, this structure is adorned with suits of armor lining the hallways, secret passageways, and fatal booby-traps. "Fog Island" (1945) is our feature today.  Originally based on a comedy/mystery play from 1937, director Terry O. Morse took the comedy out of the film adaptation, thus concentrating on murder and mayhem.  Of course, mixed in with the carnage are several suspects, including some beautiful femme fatales.
 Leo (George Zucco) is plotting revenge against his former business associates.  He believes they framed him for some mis-deeds, which landed him in prison for five years.  More importantly, Leo knows that one of them murdered his wife...but which one?  The only other soul living in the mansion is the beautiful and pure Gail (Sharon Douglas), his stepdaughter.  After rigging some murderous booby-traps, Leo lures the suspects to his island, knowing they still seek his hidden fortune.  Arriving are his former secretary, the statuesque Sylvia (Veda Ann Borg), his accountant (Ian Keith), his favorite psychic, Emiline (Jacqueline de Wit), a couple of other partners, and Jeff (John Whitney).  Jeff is the young and handsome survivng son of one of Leo's deceased partners, and a former college beau of the beautiful and pure Gail. Of course, the beautiful and pure Gail is still goo-goo on him, but is suspicious that he is in cohoots with the evil guests.
Leo knows that the greed of his guests, coupled with the fact that a murderer is among them, will assist him in his goal of wiping them all out.  His booby-traps await.  During initial toasts, he gives each guest a clue to where his fortune is hidden in the mansion.  Alone, no one has a shot at finding it.  The cut-throats pair up in order to increase their chances, but can they trust each other? No!  The beautiful and pure Gail rekindles her relationship with Jeff by putting on an icy front.  Because she is a babe, Jeff doesn't mind, and pursues her anyway.  Uh oh....Emiline conducts a seance which foretells of death for all of them.  The beautiful and pure Gail realizes she too is in danger once the alluring Sylvia enters her bedroom and nearly strangles her.  Now clad in a satin nightgown, the beautiful and pure Gail must survive the night as the bodies begin to pile up.  Can she trust Jeff?  As secret doorways are revealed, and homicidal greedy guests start killing, Jeff and the beautiful and pure Gail unravel the mystery of the hidden loot and the murder of her mother.

The ending is a wild one, which shows the fate of the greedy guests, reveals the killer's identity, and the future of the beautiful and pure Gail's relationship with Jeff.  I love Mr. Morse's decision to take out the comedic elements of this story.  Murder and horror have built in comedy, thus adding it to the plot would make the story seem too contrived.  I picked up this DVD for less tan $5 on  Treat yourself to a fine murder mystery that will remind you of an Agatha Christie story...except less concerned with wit and manors.  

1 comment:

  1. Another wonderful review, and another movie for my "to watch" list thanks to you. WRITE ON!