7 November 2007 | aimless-46
A Showcase for Karen Morley
"The Unknown" (1946) is a surprisingly entertaining and atmospheric mystery inspired by the "I LOVE A MYSTERY" radio program. It is actually one of three Republic B-movies based on the program, all featured straight arrow detective Jack Packard and his corn-pone partner Doc Long (Barton Yarborough).
In "The Unknown" Jack and Doc are hired to escort young Nina Arnold (Jeff Donnell) to her ancestral mansion in Kentucky for the reading of her grandmother's will. The twist is that Nina was placed in foster care as an infant and will be meeting her mother Rachel (Karen Morley) for the first time. The mansion is spooky with her grandfather's body buried behind the fireplace and a mausoleum full of seemingly restless ancestors located outside the house.
I was very surprised at how well written and nicely paced this film was. It's a good yarn with a lot of misdirection and some unexpected plot elements.
Although Bannon and Yarborough are the series regulars, top billing for "The Unknown" went to Morley. Deservedly so as it is clearly her film, she plays an addled woman who never recovered from the loss of her baby daughter. She keeps a baby crib in her bedroom and hears a baby crying throughout the film. The was probably Morley's best performance, shortly after she fell victim to the HUAC hearings and worked very little in the industry from that point.
The other two "I LOVE A MYSTERY" thrillers are also quite entertaining but neither has anything to match Morley's performance.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.