This week’s mystery movie was the 1934 Paramount picture Double Door, “The play that made Broadway gasp,” with Evelyn Venable, Sir Guy Standing, Kent Taylor, Mary Morris, Anne Revere, Colin Tapley, Virginia Howell, Halliwell Hobbes, Frank Dawson, Helen Shipman and Leonard Carey.
Screenplay by Gladys Lehman and Jack Cunningham. Adapted from the stage play by Elizabeth A. McFadden. Suggested by Hermine Klepac.
Photography by Harry Fiscbeck.
Directed by Charles Vidor.
Double Door is available on a Kino Lorber Blu-ray from Critics’ Choice Video with commentary by Tom Weaver, David Del Valle and Stan Shaffer.
Information on the history of Double Door is available from the AFI catalog.
I chose Double Door based on a recent comment by film noir scholar Alan K. Rode. The film has never aired on TCM and it’s a nice discovery — it’s a really, really creepy movie. Harrison’s Reports (May 5, 1934) said: “It is too terrifying for children, adolescents or for Sunday showing.”
I’m going to guess that the New York Times liked the film because it originated on Broadway. Mordaunt Hall, perhaps?
Looks like Andre Sennwald (ADS) may have gotten the assignment (May 5, 1934):
The Van Brett mansion, which is the chill setting for Double Door, has lost none of its genteel horror in the process of transportation to the screen of the Paramount. With Mary Morris as its grim and fisheyed mistress, the brownstone house on Fifth Avenue contains its old complement of frightened occupants, murderous shadows, closed shutters and — this last in a whisper — a secret chamber. It, and the events for which it provides a setting, make up the sort of cooling antidote an earnest filmgoer needs when the weather gets warm.
Trivia note: The stage show featured Milton Berle, Gertrude Niesen, Norman Frescott, Ann Pritchard, the Nicholas brothers and the Bob Alton ballet. People really got a show for their money in those days.
For Monday, we have a mystery woman.
Update: This is Helen Shipman.
For Tuesday, we have another mystery woman.
Update: This is Virginia Howell.
We also have this formal mystery gent.
Update: This is Frank Dawson.
And for “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery woman.
Update: This is Anne Revere making her film debut after appearing in the Broadway play.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this dignified mystery fellow.
Update: This is Halliwell Hobbes.
We also have this mystery gent and Back of the Head Bride, which I think is a first.
Update: This is Colin Tapley with Evelyn Venable as Back of the Head Bride
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery woman), Jenny M. (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery woman), Sylvia E. (mystery movie and Tuesday, Wednesday’s mystery guests) and Sheila (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests).
For Friday, we have our mysterious bride and mystery groom.
Update: This is Kent Taylor and Evelyn Venable.
We also have a mystery woman. And let me tell you, she spends the entire movie not approving of such goings-on.
Update: This is Mary Morris, who had a long Broadway career, in her only screen appearance. I’m surprised she only made one movie – she’s terrific.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (all mystery guests), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery woman and Thursday’s mystery fellow No. 1), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests, plus Back of the Head Bride), Sheila (Thursday’s mystery gent No. 2 and Back of the Head Bride), Sylvia E. (Monday’s mystery woman, Thursday’s mystery guests and Back of the Head Bride, plus the mystery director and Friday’s mystery guests), Blackwing Jenny (Thursday’s mystery fellow No. 1) and Anne Papineau (Thursday’s mysterious fellow No. 1).