Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 2, 2021, Florentine Dagger Mystery Photo Title
This week’s mystery movie was the 1935 Warner Bros. film “The Florentine Dagger,” with Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, C. Aubrey Smith, Henry O’Neill, Robert Barrat, Florence Fair, Frank Reicher, Charles Judels, Rafaela Ottiano, Paul Porcasi, Eily Malyon, Egon Brecher, Herman Bing and Henry Kolker.

Screenplay by Tom Reed, additional dialogue by Brown Holmes, dialogue director Arthur Greville Collins. Edited by Thomas Pratt, art direction by Anton Grot and Carl Jules Weyl, photographed by Arthur L. Todd, gowns by Orry-Kelly and musical direction by Leo F. Forbstein. Directed by Robert Florey.

“The Florentine Dagger” has never been commercially released on VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. There are a few clips online, but that’s all. It was last broadcast on TCM in 2015.

I picked “The Florentine Dagger” based on a comment during a recent Daily Mirror Zoom session about “I Am a Thief.” Both films were directed by Robert Florey at Warner Bros. and there is some overlap of the cast (Robert Barrat, Frank Reicher and Florence Fair).

The plot, highly modified from a novel by Ben Hecht, is strange and convoluted, involving a high-strung, temperamental young man (Donald Woods) who attempts suicide on a pilgrimage to visit the ruins of the Borgias’ castle because he is convinced he’s a descendant – if not the reincarnation – of Cesare Borgia. When the young man’s suicide is averted, a wise and patient psychiatrist, Dr. Lytton (C. Aubrey Smith), advises him to write a play about his feelings and in a stunning coincidence, a play producer (Henry O’Neill) happens to be there. The young man writes the play, casts the producer’s daughter (Margaret Lindsay) as Lucrezia Borgia and from there the plot runs off in strange directions. A murder is involved.

The film is mainly interesting for its visuals. Unfortunately, the unusual, often angled photography and dramatic, shadowy lighting are poorly represented in my murky print recorded from TCM. Florey and the cast do their best to make sense of the script, but it’s a pretty hopeless task.

Harrison’s Reports (April 13, 1935) said:

Evidently the Warner Bros. production executives aspired to produce one of those horror murder melodramas that Universal has been producing for years successfully, but it seems as if they have failed, in spite of the fact that death hovers all over it. The only feeling that the picture has succeeded in creating is one of revulsion, the result of a character’s hideous face. (Note: I’m not sure the person who wrote this review saw the film as the — spoiler alert! —  disfigured face is never shown. At least not in my copy).

Motion Picture Herald (May 4, 1935) said:

An intriguing and active murder mystery has been constructed from Ben Hecht’s story of the same title. It is filled with atmosphere giving rich background to the crime in setting and situation. There may be real selling value in some situations in stressing the origin of the film….. Well paced and with a totally unexpected conclusion, the film may be sold as effective melodramatic mystery material, acceptable at any showing during the week.

Picture Play magazine (July 1935) said:

Unusual without being strong entertainment, this murder mystery has much to recommend it. One attraction is a foreign background for a change. Another is a psychological story instead of merely a killing.

And let’s see which New York Times critic hated it….

Writing in the New York Times (April 27, 1935), HTS said:

Ben Hecht used an ingenious device to cloud the identity of the murderer in his novel “The Florentine Dagger.” There were only three suspects, but, to baffle the reader, he gave each a dual personality. The reader who tried to solve the killing of Victor Ballau, bankrupt art collector, had to guess not merely which of the three was the murderer but whether he (or she) had committed the crime as himself or as his other self…..

The result is that the picture is neither worse, nor better, than most mystery tales; it is not too complicated and gives the audience slightly more than a 50-50 chance of beating the screen sleuths to the correct answer.

Dec. 28, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent and Back of the Head Guy, who will appear Friday.

Update: This is Charles Fallon with Donald Woods as Back of the Head Guy.

Dec. 29, 2020, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have three mystery women. The first is the mysterious cat lady.

Update: This is Betty Farrington, who played the Dietrichsons’ maid, Nettie, in “Double Indemnity.”

Dec. 29, 2020, Mystery Photo

This is mystery woman No. 2.

Update: This is Rafaela Ottiano.

Dec. 29, 2020, Mystery Photo

This is mystery woman No. 3.

Update: This is Ruthelma Stevens, previously seen in the 2020 mystery film “Life Begins.”

Dec. 30, 2020, Mystery Photo

For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mysterious gentleman.

Update: This is Henry O’Neill, previously seen in the 2020 mystery film “Gentlemen Are Born.”

Dec. 30, 2020, Mystery Photo

We also have this mystery woman and Back of the Head Police Inspector.

Update: This is Florence Fair with Robert Barrat as Back of the Head Police Inspector.

Dec. 30, 2020, Mystery Photo

And finally, we have this mysterious woman.

Update: This is Eily Malyon, who was in the 2015 mystery film “Kind Lady”  and the 2017 mystery film “Roughly Speaking” with Donald Woods!

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Tuesday’s mystery woman No. 2), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery druggist and Back of the Head Guy, and Tuesday’s mystery woman No. 2) and Sheila (Monday’s mystery druggist and Tuesday’s mystery women Nos. 2 and 3).

Dec. 31, 2020, Mystery Photo

For “Aha Thursday,” we have a mysterious police inspector and a mystery assistant.

Update: This is Robert Barrat, last seen as as the maniacal baron in “I Am a Thief,” as an amorous police inspector. Also Ferdinand Schumann-Heink. Barrat also appeared in the 2016 mystery movie  “The Silk Express,”  another Warner Bros. film involving a train.

Dec.31, 2020, Mystery Photo

We also have this mystery guest and a mysterious life mask.

Update: A fine example of the moody photography and lighting with C. Aubrey Smith. The mask is a clew.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery druggist and Back of the Head Guy, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Chrisbo (Wednesday’s mystery weird veiled lady), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery play producer, Back of the Head Guy and weird veiled lady), Sheila (Wednesday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (Wednesday’s mysterious play producer), David Inman (Wednesday’s mysterious play producer), Anne Papineau (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery play producer and weird veiled lady) and Megan and Thom (mystery movie, Monday’s mysterious druggist, Tuesday’s mystery guests, Wednesday’s mysterious play producer and weird veiled woman).

Jan. 1, 2021, Mystery Photo

For Friday, we have our mysterious leading man.

Update: This is Donald Woods, previously seen in “Roughly Speaking” and “The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.”

Jan.1, 2021, Mystery Photo

And finally, for our last mystery movie of the year, here is our mysterious leading lady.

Update: This is Margaret Lindsay, previously seen in “Gentlemen Are Born.”

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mysterious play producer and Thursday’s mysterious psychiatrist), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Funky PhD (mystery movie, Monday’s Back of the Head Guy and mysterious druggist, Tuesday’s mystery actress who wasn’t cast in the mystery play, Wednesday’s mysterious play producer and mysterious weird lady, Thursday’s mysterious psychiatrist and mysterious police inspector), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie), David Inman (mystery movie and Thursday’s mysterious psychiatrist), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast), Sue Slutzky (mystery movie, Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery guests, Wednesday’s mysterious play producer and mystery weird lady, and Thursday’s mystery guests) and Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery druggist and Back of the Head Guy, Tuesday’s mysterious innkeeper’s wife, Wednesday’s weird veiled lady and Thursday’s mystery psychiatrist).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1935, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. B.J. Merholz says:

    Frank Ferguson

    Like

  2. Earl Boebert says:

    Back of the head guy is Robert Ryan? (A really WA WAG)

    Like

  3. Sylvia E. says:

    Monday’s setting (which seems to be inside a Chinese apothecary shop) has spawned a thought for me. Was this movie choice inspired by Earl’s interest in the 30’s and 40s mysteries with Karloff and Lorre by any chance?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    The Florentine Dagger (1935)
    Monday: Donald Woods, Charles Fallon
    Tuesday: Betty Farrington; Ruthelma Stevens; Rafaela Ottiano

    Thanks for remembering my reference

    Like

  5. Anne Papineau says:

    No. 2 on Tuesday: Rafaela Ottiano

    Like

  6. mike hawks says:

    Back of head guy is Donald Woods with Charles Fallon for Monday. Tuesdays #2 lady is Rafaela Ottiano, #3 is Florence Fair in THE FLORENTINE DAGGER.

    Like

  7. Sheila says:

    Charles Fallon for Monday, Rafaela Ottiano and Ruthelma Stevens for Tuesday, ‘The Florentine Dagger’.

    Like

  8. Mary Mallory says:

    CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY. BOTH guy George Sanders and Lucian Prival Monday, Dorothy Tree, Grace Stafford, and Hedwiga Reicher Tuesday, and Henry O’Neill and Ely Malyon today.

    Like

  9. Mary Mallory says:

    Disregard the previous answer. THE FLORENTINE DAGGER. Donald Woods as BOTH guy Monday with Charles Fallon, Betty Farrington, Rafaela Ottiano, and Ruthelma Stevens yesterday, and Barlowe Borland, Florence Fair, Henry O’Neill, and Ely Malyon today.

    Like

  10. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Henry O’Neill; Robert Barrat, Florence Fair; Ely Malyon.

    Like

  11. Chrisbo says:

    Eily Malyon as mysterious woman?

    Like

  12. mike hawks says:

    Henry O’Neill, Robert Barrat and Eily Malyon.

    Like

  13. Sheila says:

    Henry O’Neill, Flobelle Fairbanks/Florence Fair (with a mask on), and Eily Malyon for Wednesday.

    Like

  14. B.J. Merholz says:

    Henry O’Neil

    Like

  15. David Inman says:

    Henry O’Neill today, which narrows it down to only about 8,000 movies.

    Like

  16. Anne Papineau says:

    On Wednesday, a bow-tied Henry O’Neill and a veiled Eily Malyon in “The Florentine Dagger.”

    Like

  17. Megan and Thom says:

    Our movie is The Florentine Dagger. Monday’s guest is Charles Fallon. Tuesday’s are Betty Farrington, Rafaela Ottiano, and Ruthelma Stevens. Two of today’s guests are Henry O’Neill and Eily Malyon.

    Like

  18. Mary Mallory says:

    Robert Barrat, Florence Fair as model for mask, and C. Aubrey Smith.

    Like

  19. Floyd Thursby says:

    Henry O’Neill on Wednesday and C. Aubrey Smith on Thursday. The movie is “The Florentine Dagger.”

    Like

  20. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Robert Barrat, Ferdinand Schumann-Heink; Florence Fair, C. Aubrey Smith.

    Like

  21. FunkyPhD says:

    The Florentine Dagger (1935). Thursday’s mystery guest is Sir C. Aubrey Smith, minus his trademark mustache. BOTH guy is Donald Woods. Veiled mystery woman is Eily Malyon. Mystery woman number 3 is Ruthelma Stevens. Police inspector: Robert Barratt. Wednesday’s mysterious gentleman is Henry O’Neill. Charles Fallon as the apothecary. Don’t know mystery women 1 & 2.

    Like

  22. B.J. Merholz says:

    The Florentine Dagger

    Like

  23. David Inman says:

    C. Aubrey Smith as one of the mystery fellows, making this “The Florentine Dagger.”

    Like

  24. mike hawks says:

    Robert Barrat and C. Aubrey Smith.

    Like

  25. LC says:

    The Florentine Dagger (1935) w/C. Aubrey Smith, Henry O’Neill, Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, Eily Malyon, Charles Fallon, Rafaela Ottiano, …

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    Like

  26. Sue Slutzky says:

    The movie is “The Florentine Dagger”
    Monday: Charles Fallon
    Tuesday: 1- Betty Farrington, 2- Rafaela Ottiano, 3- Ruthelma Stevens
    Wednesday: Henry O’neill, I don’t know who the first woman is, the other woman is Elly Malyon
    Thursday: Robert Barrat, C. Aubrey Smith

    Like

  27. tucsonbarbara says:

    “The Florentine Dagger”

    Charles Fallon, Donald Woods, Rafaela Ottiano, Eily Melyon, C. Aubrey Smith

    Like

  28. Mary Mallory says:

    Donald woods and Margaret Lindsay.

    Like

  29. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Donald Woods; Margaret Lindsay.

    Like

  30. tucsonbarbara says:

    Donald Woods and Margaret Lindsay

    Like

  31. mike hawks says:

    Donald Woods and Margaret Lindsay.

    Like

  32. Sue Slutzky says:

    Friday: Donald Woods and Margaret Lindsay.

    Like

  33. Benito says:

    Margaret Lindsay today

    Like

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