This week’s mystery movie was the 1945 Universal film “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry,” with George Sanders, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ella Raines, Sara Allgood, Moyna MacGill, Samuel S. Hinds, Harry Von Zell, Judy Clark, Coulter F. Irwin and Craig Reynolds.
Screenplay by Stephen Longstreet, adaptation by Keith Winter. From the play by Thomas Job, as produced on the stage by Clifford Hayman.
Photography by Paul Ivano, special photography by John P. Fulton. Edited by Arthur Hilton, art direction by John B. Goodman and Eugene Lourie. Set decoration by Russell A. Gausman. Costumes by Travis Banton.
Music direction by H.J. Salter, sound by Bernard B. Brown, technician Glenn A. Anderson. Makeup by Jack P. Pierce. Assistant director Melville Shyer.
Produced by Joan Harrison. Directed by Robert Siodmak.
I picked “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry,” based on a passing comment by Farran Nehme, and if you don’t follow her on social media, you most certainly should as she is one of my favorite film writers.
The basic story of a selfish sister preventing a brother from marrying the girl of his choice is an old one, but it has been so well produced here and so excellently directed and acted that the plot’s motivation is thoroughly believable. Enhanced by top-drawer acting of all principals and believable characterizations by even the smallest player the picture is absorbing, solid entertainment. Even the trick ending in which all of the tragedy turns out to be nothing more than a projection of Sanders’ thoughts does not detract from the fact that what is pictured on the screen might actually have happened. Sanders plays the stodgy brother in usual contrast to earlier roles and is his usually competent self. Ella Raines, resembling somewhat the well known “Look” but entirely different in speech and action, is excellent, as is Geraldine Fitzgerald as the scheming sister. Others in the case perform well. Properly sold, “The Strange Affair or Uncle Harry” should do better than normal business. As entertainment, it’s tops.
And let’s see which New York Times critic hated it….
That would be Bosley Crowther!
Writing Aug. 24, 1945, Crowther said:
If you are one of those people who felt yourself taken in by the brazen dream denouement of “The Woman in the Window” a few months back, then brace yourself for another and even more disappointing shock at the curiously opaque conclusion of “Uncle Harry” at Loew’s Criterion. For herein another seeming killer wakes up to find his crime a dream again — only this time the substance of the reverie is nothing like as gripping as it should be.
The stage play, from which the film was taken, was a spine-tingling study, we are told, of the ironic twists by which a murderer’s “perfect crime” backfired on him. In the end, this unhappy fellow was frustrated all around, discredited as a killer and bereft of the people whom he loved. But the picture, designed for “moral justice” and a happy, romantic finial splice, suddenly rings in a fade-out which says it was all a nightmare.
And that’s not the only objection…..
—And scene —
For Monday, we have a mystery doggo. And Back of the Head Woman. The gent on the right has been cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness. He and Back of the Head Woman will appear Friday.
Update: For Friday, here is our mystery doggo with a slightly better view of Back of the Head Woman and our mysterious leading man.
Update: This is Geraldine Fitzgerald, George Sanders and a supposedly ailing doggo for whom a bit of poison from the druggist is intended. The vial of poison is a plot point and that’s all I’m going to say.
For Tuesday, we have these mystery ladies.
Update: These are two neighborhood gossips, Ethel Griffies, left, and Irene Tedrow.
Also for Tuesday, we have this mystery gent and mystery girl. Also Back of the Head Woman No. 2, who will appear Friday. The name of the building in the background has been temporarily obscured and will appear later in the week.
Updated: And here we have the mystery hotel — thanks to Sylvia for the reminder!
Update: This is Ella Rains as Back of the Head Woman, Craig Reynolds and Dawn Bender.
Brain Trust roll call: Gary (Monday’s Back of the Head Woman) and Jenny M. (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery guests).
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mysterious fellow. He does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is grumpy prison warden Holmes Herbert.
And you can probably guess this mystery fellow’s opinion of such goings-on.
And pushy real estate agent Walter Soderling.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, all mystery guests, persons cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness, Back of the Head Persons and a history of Monday’s mystery blouse), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, all mystery guests, persons cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness and Back of the Head Persons), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, persons cropped out due to insufficient mysteriousness, various Back of the Head Persons and other mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Megan and Thom (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests).
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mysterious gentleman.
Update: This is Harry Von Zell as the happy pharmacist who sold a certain vial of poison.
And we have a mystery woman.
Update: This is Moyna MacGill, mother of Angela Lansbury.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mysterious real estate agent), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery prison warden) and Megan and Thom (Wednesday’s mystery real estate agent).
For Friday, we have our mysterious “woman from the New York office.”
Update: This is Ella Raines and how about that tie?
And our mysterious domineering sister of the leading man.
Update: This is Geraldine Fitzgerald in what is supposed to be prison garb.
Finally, our mysterious leading man with his mystery niece.
Update: This is George Sanders and Judy Clark.
Brain Trust roll call: Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Monday’s Back of the Head Woman, Tuesday’s mystery women and Thursday’s mystery guests), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests), Beach Gal (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mary Mallory (mystery prison warden and Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Megan and Thom (Wednesday’s mysterious prison warden and Thursday’s mystery guests), David Inman (Thursday’s mystery gent!), Earl Boebert (Thursday’s mystery gent), Charles Kjelland (Thursday’s mystery gent), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (Thursday’s mystery gent), Sheila (Thursday’s mystery gent) Blackwing Jenny (Thursday’s mystery woman), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery gent) and Benito (Thursday’s mystery gent).