This week’s mystery movie was the 1933 Warner Bros. picture The Mind Reader, with Warren William, Constance Cummings, Allen Jenkins, Natalie Moorhead, Mayo Methot, Clarence Muse and Earle Foxe.Screenplay by Robert Lord and Wilson Mizner, based on a play by Vivian Cosby (a.k.a. Crosby).
Edited by James Gibbon, art direction by Robert M. Haas. Photography by Sol Polito. Gowns by Orry-Kelly.
Vitaphone Orchestra directed by Leo F. Forbstein.
Directed by Roy Del Ruth.
The Mind Reader is available on DVD in a Warner Archive box set from TCM.
The AFI Catalog entry on the film is here.
I picked The Mind Reader as a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who died Nov. 26. Sondheim chose it when he was a guest programmer on TCM in 2005 and it appears in other lists of his favorite films. It’s not hard to see why he liked the movie, which offers good material for a play or musical (it was apparently based on a play by Vivian Cosby/Crosby that was never produced).
Motion Picture Herald described the film as a comedy, which it isn’t.
Harrison’s Reports (March 11, 1933) said:
Some picture-goers may like this picture because of the continual doings of the characters, but it is not a good entertainment, by reason of the fact that the hero is dishonest. By making people believe that he is able to read the future for them, he is able to obtain money from them…. Unsuitable for children, adolescents or for Sundays.
Which New York Times critic will hate it. We’re in 1933, so it could be Mordaunt Hall or possibly early in Bosley Crowther’s career. I’ll say Mordaunt Hall.
Yes! It’s Mordaunt Hall! How much did he hate it? I’m guessing a lot.
New York Times, April 7, 1933:
In a rather lame but frequently ingenious production bearing the title of The Mind Reader, Warren William appears as a cheap trickster who, after devoting his time to pulling teeth and selling fake medicines with no great success, decides to become a clairvoyant. He elects to be known as Chandra the Great and to impress his clients he wears Oriental headgear and talks in sepulchral tones.
Chandra’s activities at carnivals in various towns give the producers an opportunity to expose some of his methods as a fortune teller. While the film is concerned with such ideas it is not uninteresting, but its romantic angle is never especially successful, for the girl, Sylvia, is beautiful but dense.
…Toward the close, the film becomes melodramatic, but as it has never elicited much sympathy for Chandra, it matters not what happens to him.
In other words, in the hands of a Stephen Sondheim, it could be an intriguing musical.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is Fred Toones.
For Tuesday, we have an aged mystery guest…
Update: This is Christian Rub.
…and we have a young mystery guest.
Update: This is Marilyn Knowlden.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s mystery gent), Mary Mallory (Monday’s mystery gent), Mike Hawks (Monday’s mystery gent), Robert Morrissey (Monday’s mystery gent), Blackwing Jenny (Monday’s mystery gent), Sheila (Monday’s mystery gent) and Jenny M. (Monday’s mystery gent).
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery gent. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a sharp screen cap of him and this is about the best I can do.
Update: This is Clarence Muse.
We also have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Mayo Methot.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Tuesday’s mystery gent), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests), Chrisbo (Tuesday’s mystery gent), Blackwing Jenny (Tuesday’s mystery gent), Patrick (Tuesday’s mystery gent), Michael Lott (Monday’s mystery gent) and Sheila (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests).
For “Aha Thursday,” we have a mystery woman.
Update: This is Natalie Moorhead.
Step right up. We also have a mystery gent. In a newsboy cap!
Update: This is Allen Jenkins.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Pat in Michigan (Wednesday’s mystery woman).
Note to David: You’re in good company!
For Friday, we have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Constance Cummings.
As well as our mysterious leading man.
Update: This is Warren William.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (Thursday’s mystery gent), Patrick (mystery movie and mystery cast), Blackwing Jenny (Thursday’s mystery guests) and Anne Papineau (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery guests).
Fred ‘Snowflake’ Toones
Fred “Snowflake” Toones.
That’s Fred “Snowflake” Toones. Over 200 credits to his name, including one of my favorite Christmas movies, Mitchell Leisen’s Preston Sturges-scripted Remember the Night, from 1940.
THE MIND READER. Christian Rub and Marilyn Knowldon today.
Christian Rub; Marilyn Knowlden.
THE MIND READER, 1933.
Posters for NIGHTMARE ALLEY, 2021, currently decorate NY subway walls.
Christian Rub and Marilyn Knowlden in THE MIND READER.
Christian Rub Tuesday?
Well, that’s Christian Rub. Can’t place the pretty kid yet.
Christian Rub on Tuesday.
Monday’s photo is Fred Toones – I don’t know the movie. Great hats!
Christian Rub and Marilyn Knowlden, ‘The Mind Reader’?
An excellent guess, but alas, I’m afraid not.
Clarence Muse and “Sluggy” Mayo Methot.
Clarence Muse; Mayo Methot.
Clarence Muse and Mayo Methot today make this “The Mind Reader,” one of my favorite seamy pre-codes!
Clarence Muse and Mayo Methot.
Gloria Dickson, but I can;t guess the movie unless the newpaperman is Trevor Bardette in They Won’t Forget.
The Mind Reader (1933) w/Warren William, Constance Cummings, Alan Jenkins, Clarence Muse, Fred Toones, Mayo Methot, Marilyn Knowlden
Mayo Methot for Wednesday, but still not sure what the film is.
Natalie Moorhead and good old Allen Jenkins.
Natalie Moorehead; Allen Jenkins.
Natalie Moorhead and Allen Jenkins.
Could that be Fred Toones on Monday as a passenger instead of a porter?
And Allen Jenkins today?
Fred Toones, Christian Rub, Marilyn Knowlden, Clarence Muse, Mayo Methot, Natalie Moorhead and Allen Jenkins in The Mind Reader from 1933.
Allen Jenkins and…Natalie Moorehead?
On Thursday, Allen Jenkins and Natalie Moorhead in “The Mind Reader.”
Constance Cummings and our wicked Mystic, WArren William, whose birthday is today (12-2) I believe.
Allen Jenkins and Warren William in “The Mind Reader” (1932)
Perry Mason solving one of his many cases?
Constance Cummings and Warren William.
Movie is The Mind Reader 1933.
Tues little girl is Marilyn Knowlend
Monday is Clarence Muse
Tues gent is Christian Rub
Wed Mayo Methot
Thurs actress is Natalie More head
Thurs actor is Allen Jenkins
Fri is Constance Cummings
Fri is Warren William
Monday in bowler hat is Fred Snowflake Tones
Wed in eastern garb is Clarence Muse