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  • In the style of Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour, Inner Sanctum is a cheap little film noir, and one that gains all of it's successes from its plot rather any technical elements. The main problem with this film, therefore, is simply that there isn't enough of it; and while the plot and characters that we get introduced to are good, they could have been a whole lot better if the film had more of a budget to play with. The plot focuses on the idea of guilt and its effect on a man that has killed someone. We follow Harold Dunlap, a man that decides to stay at a boarding house after killing a woman at a near-by station. The plot focuses on the interloper, as well as the people already living at the house; and all the thrills are garnered through that. The film is tense and exciting, and it's also a good indication of how times have changed; I mean, would you let your kid sleep in a room that is currently being inhabited by a male guest that you've only just met? Well, you would if it was this kid; as Inner Sanctum features what is probably the most irritating child performance of all time. But aside from that, the cast is strong and the film is well directed by Lew Landers, who also directed Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in The Raven some years earlier. Recommended to noir fans.
  • Inner Sanctum (1948)

    A short, bizarre, surprisingly captivating film. It's totally Twilight Zone when you get to the last two minutes, so hang in there for the hour before that. It has a noir quality that makes it moody, and it has some truly artsy expressionist segments montaged in during the flood, partly as psychological metaphor. The director, Lew Landers, has an astonishing 100 plus movies and a lot of early television to his name, and I'm guessing there are some other sterling moments among them.

    But for the moment we have Inner Sanctum. There is a candid, campy acting throughout that's fresh and entertaining, from the boy who's a convincing sweetie to the reporter who's a total bumbling hoot (watch him cheat at checkers). If it borders on deliberate comedy at times, it's more sustained by its tone of utter innocence among the townspeople, so they joke and make odd comments exactly the way real people would. The candid quality is at odds with the one rather stiff character, the lead man, who carries some kind of weight around beyond even his crime. Such is the film noir lead at its archetypal best, and this is from the height of post-war noir.

    So, a great movie it isn't but a movie with great qualities it is. No joke.
  • Since this black and white B flick is only under an hour I doubt that it will ever see the light of day on video. It's too bad since it is an unusual and tidy little mystery of the late 1940's. A Seer (fortune-teller) brilliantly played by Fritz Leiber predicts that a young girl (Mary Beth Hughes) will encounter tragedy on a train. It all comes together when a man (Charles Russell) fleeing from the law for a murder hides out in a boarding house. Other than the gorgeous Miss Hughes and handsome Mr Russell the boarders include the delightful Nana Bryant, feisty Lee Patrick, freckled faced kid Dale Belding and Billy House. Above-par B film fare especially for Noir fans.
  • Inner Sanctum is directed by Lew Landers and written by Jerome T. Gollard. It stars Charles Russell, Mary Beth Hughes, Dale Belding, Billy House, Fritz Leiber, Nana Bryant and Lee Patrick. Music is by Leon Klatzkin and cinematography by Allen G. Siegler.

    A psychic tells a woman, Marie Kembar (Eve Miller), a story on board a train. He tells of a man, Harold Dunlap (Russell), who after killing a woman makes his way into town and finds he can't leave after a flood renders all residents confined to the area. Taking lodgings in a boarding house, Dunlap finds he is sharing a room with the only witness to his crime...

    Clocking in at just over an hour in length, Inner Sanctum is very much in the vein of a quintessential "B" programmer. Part noir suspenser, part Twilight Zone mystery, it's a quirky little picture that manages to blend off-kilter humour with genuine tenseness. Starting off with the ambiguously filmed killing of a woman, who is then unceremoniously dumped on the observation platform of a departing train, the film then unravels in small town Americana in a manner befitting Hitchcock. Enter a group of colourful/eccentric/shifty characters in one boarding house and the story explodes in to an array of fakes, fancies, vagaries of fate, youthful innocence and dangerous sexual attractions. All filmed in a deliberately noir style of murky shades and half lights.

    The production value is inevitably low, but it works in the narrative's favour. The acting is a mixed bag, but there is nothing here to hurt the flow or feel of the picture. Standing out are Russell (The Purple Heart) who is wonderfully sly and cunning, Patrick (The Maltese Falcon/Mildred Pierce) who plays the harried mother role with verve and doting dominance, and young Belding has the requisite amount of bratty boyishness and confused innocence. But best of the bunch is Hughes (The Great Flamarion/The Ox-Bow Incident), who slinks her way through the movie making moves on Dunlap even when she knows what he has done! Yes she's that desperate to thrive on danger and get out of this small town nowhereville. This characterisation is just one of the many pessimistic touches that help to make Inner Sanctum a rewarding experience. Killer ending as well! 7/10
  • A psychic predicts that a sultry young blonde will meet with tragedy on a train...A handsome young man murders his wife, then takes refuge in a sleepy small town...A young boy witnesses the murder but keeps it a secret... The blonde, the young man, and the boy all wind up in the same boarding house, sharing close quarters, and trying to cover-up their unsettling secrets. Plot turns and twists ensue, building to a shattering, unexpected climax.

    Superior, low-budget 'film noir,' quietly but steadily gripping the viewer with unusually subtle characterizations and solid acting. Amazingly "adult" for its time. The ravishing Mary Beth Hughes and the charismatic Charles Russell strike palpable erotic sparks. And the relationship between Russell and the young lad who witnessed his crime but hero-worships him all the same has implicit "homoerotic" undertones that must have eluded the napping censors.

    Running a mere 52 minutes, "Inner Sanctum" was easily sandwiched into local TV stations in the late '50s in 60-minute-including-commercials slots.

    It has long since disappeared into obscurity and deserves a cable-TV or VHS revival and restoral. The notion of doing an updated, R-rated remake is tempting but should be avoided. This little-known treasure is perfect just as it is.
  • A man (Charles Russell) accidentally kills his fiancée as he exits a train. Just as the train pulls out, he drops her body on the rear platform. No one saw him do it, but someone does see him at the otherwise deserted station: a mischievous, freckle-faced boy. Later, he's walking along a road when the town's newspaper editor stops and gives him a lift. The editor tells his passenger that a flood has washed out the bridge. For now, there's no way out of town, so he takes the stranger to a boarding house. Fate decrees that of all houses, this is the one where the boy lives. The boy thinks he recognizes the new boarder. The new boarder thinks it's time to get rid of the boy. And a sexy blonde (Mary Beth Hughes) living at the house thinks it's time to run off with a man she knows is a murderer.

    "Inner Sanctum" is a stand-alone film based on the radio series of the same name. That program was also the basis for Universal's godawful movie series, starring Lon Chaney, Jr., that had ended just two years before. "Inner Sanctum" is nothing like those films and much better. The story is efficiently told with sharp dialogue, an excellent framing device and good performances. Everyone involved worked well within the constraints of a small budget; and the movie remains an entertaining thriller that fits snugly into the latterly-invented genre of Film Noir.
  • You just know when the movie opens with Dr. Velonious's (Lieber) white-capped face more craggy than Mt. Everest that the remainder is a must-see. Seems the aristocratic doctor is something of a psychic. Aboard a train during a fierce rainstorm he warns a comely brunette not to use a nail-file since it could stab her. He then proceeds with a dark tale told in flashback of just such a happening.

    It's noir all the way, from railways of fate to doom-ridden characters to a mysterious spider woman, except in this case it's a man. When Harold (Russell) shows up at the boarding house, the ladies are smitten. Heck, even sterling bad girl Mary Beth Hughes flutters more eyelash than sheets in a windstorm. Except Harold's got more on his mind than a dalliance. Instead, he's after the mischievous little boy who knows he stabbed a woman with a nail-file, of all things. Seems like what goes around comes around, which is definitely the case here.

    Catch that great array of colorful supporting characters. Few could shift from fat-man joviality to sneaky malice faster than Billy House; or maybe the oddest looking boy in movies, Dale Belden in a fine pivotal performance; or Hughes who could easily lead a parade of Hollywood's favorite cheap blondes. Then there's lead actor Russell who remains a deadpan enigma throughout. He's new to me, but does well as a man of mystery. And who could have expected hack director Lew Landers to meld these components, including a good tight script, into such a stylish whole. Likely, it's the artistic highpoint of a long career. I guess my only gripe is the cheap forest sets that nevertheless manage the right noirish atmosphere.

    Fans of the old radio show should be pleased with the results, though I don't think there were more movie follow-ups. Too bad. Nonetheless, this little 60-minutes remains an obscure sleeper, with one of the best fatalistic endings on record.
  • ******SPOILERS****** Solid "Film Noir" about murder guilt and justice and how events can't be changed even if the one who's effected is told about them in advance.

    The movie "Inner Sanctum" begins and ends on a train that pulls in one night in the little town of Clayburn. Harold Dunlap tries to get away from his overbearing and demanding fiancé Marie who sees him trying to leave her and runs out of the train and has a confrontation with him.

    Pulling a nail file from her purse Marie tries to stab Harold who in turn takes it away and kills her with it. With the train about to pull out of the station Harold picks up Marie's body and dumps it on the train and with no one around thinks that he's gotten away with what he did, Harold thought wrong.

    Looking to get lost Harold tries to hitch a ride out of town and lose himself in the darkness of the night. Like he thinks that his connection to the murder will get lost along with him. Fate and destiny, like a magnet, has other ideas about what's in store for Harold and pulls him back to face justice for what he did.

    Tense creepy and well written and acted movie that shows what Harold should have known right from the start: crime doesn't pay and the only one who does pay is the one who commits it.

    Tightly edited and suspenseful film that doesn't try to fool the audience about who's guilty of the crime, you see Harold kill Marie at the start of the movie, but does have a twist to it that's as good as any whodunit.

    The movies somewhat uneventful beginning with a sharp turn on the rail and a man who can tell what time it is without a watch with the mysterious Dr. Valonius seems a bit slow but it ties all the loose ends together at the end of the film. "Inner Santcum" is a movie, that by the time that it's over, you know will never end.
  • This black and white movie has many fine moments but it does not have the top box office cast which could have made it a classic. It has a small town feel similar to Picnic with William Holden but it did not have William Holden and Kim Novak.

    The lead actors do their scenes well. The guy and gal just aren't quite right for a feature film. The female lead is beautiful enough to be in any movie in any role. She also was great in her scenes. But this movie just needs a Bogart and Bacall or Tracy and Hepburn or Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. The rest of the cast is fine.

    The boy who plays Mike is the best part of this movie. There is a bedroom scene with him and the villain which rings so true for its era. Watch as the male lead plays some word games in the dark with the kid. Innocence and terror side by side. It was common in the 1940s to have two guys sleeping in the same bed in movies, especially in comedies, but also in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. In this movie the guys sleep together in one room but with separate beds.

    This is a very good movie but it could have been great. This might make a good double bill with Picnic or Strangers on a Train or The Lady Vanishes.

    I hope Dale Belding (Mike) is still alive and well.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    `Different' is probably the word that will spring to mind after a viewing of Inner Sanctum. It's unusual in its choice of milieu and subject matter (even its choices within that subject matter); unusual in its slapdash mixture of tone and acting styles; even unusual in its length of merely 52 minutes. It also leaves viewers in an unusual disarray of responses.

    The film's most horrifying moment is its very first: A man (Charles Russell) stabs a woman on a railroad siding and dumps her body like a sack of meal on the observation platform as the train pulls out. Alas, a bratty little boy (Dale Belding) is hanging around the tracks this stormy night and witnesses some of this; since Russell doesn't know how much, he tries but fails to silence the kid with a crowbar.

    The storm has washed out roads and bridges in the Pacific Northwest, so Russell hitches a ride to a town so little that there's no hotel, only a rooming house where it turns out the meddlesome boy lives with his harried mother (the wonderful Lee Patrick, midpoint between The Maltese Falcon and Caged). Another resident, Mary Beth Hughes, spots that rarity, an unattached slab of male flesh, and comes at him in sections, to get him to take her away to San Francisco. But Russell, like a cunning beast of prey, only has eyes for the kid....

    In its crummy look (the sets consist of the railroad siding, the boarding house, and a back-lot park) and creepy story, as well as in its ultimate surrender to an all-powerful and malevolent Fate, Inner Sanctum most resembles Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour of three years earlier. But Lew Landers doesn't quite have Ulmer's touch (or, for that matter, Ann Savage). The movie also recalls Detour in that it seems to have been cobbled into coherence from footage already shot once the meagre budget ran out.

    So the final scene is a reprise of the one that opens it, and both of them stand as gargoyle-bookends to the story that they frame. At the end, however, the murder is prefaced by a cautionary tale – even a prophecy – told to a young woman on the train by an old blind traveler, whose last words are `Don't get off the train!' The tale, of course, is the movie we have just watched, evoking an ever-repeating, inescapable loop of Fate.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Inner Sanctum Mysteries" was a popular radio show that ran between 1941 and 1952 and although there's no real relationship between that series and this movie, the film's producers must obviously have thought that there was some commercial advantage to be gained by adopting the series' title for this tight crime drama that oozes tension fairly consistently for most of its 62 minutes. Fate plays a strong hand in everything that happens from the circumstances under which an accidental murder is committed to the reasons why the killer finds himself trapped in an environment where the presence of the only witness to his crime, constitutes a strong and consistent threat to his freedom.

    A young woman called Marie Kembar (Eve Miller) is on a train journey from Seattle to the small town of Clayburn in the American Northwest when she gets into conversation with an elderly gentleman that she meets in the dining car. Dr Valonius (Fritz Leiber Sr.) is a seer who impresses her by being able to tell the time without a watch but she ignores him when he warns her that she could injure herself if she continues to file her fingernails when they're travelling through an upcoming section of the track. His prediction proves to be accurate and Marie's finger is badly cut when the train jolts. She subsequently admits that she's probably too forceful and never normally listens to warnings but that, on the odd occasions when she does, they merely go in one ear and out of the other. Valonius offers to tell her the story of a forceful woman who knew what she wanted and thought she knew how to get it.

    His story begins at Clayburn station sometime after 9.00pm when a man who's trying to live a simple and happy life is attacked by his fiancée who's made his life complicated and miserable. In the ensuing struggle, the woman is accidentally killed when she gets stabbed through the heart by her own nail file. A young boy called Mike (Dale Belding) sees what he thinks is a bundle being thrown onto the observation platform of the rear of a departing train and also notices blood on the man's jacket sleeve. The killer, Harold Dunlap (Charles Russell), reaches for a nearby crowbar with the intention of killing the boy but is interrupted when Mike's mother shouts out his name and the boy runs away.

    Dunlap decides to go on the run but doesn't get very far because torrential rain has flooded the town's roads and washed-out the bridge. The friendly McFee (Billy House), who's the town's newspaper editor, gives him a lift and takes him to a local boarding house where he's welcomed and given a room but later finds that he's expected to share it with another of the house's residents who turns out to be Mike. Because of the flood, Dunlap has to stay on at the house far longer than he expects and becomes increasingly edgy as he tries to decide how best to avoid being exposed as a murderer.

    When Dunlap's story finally concludes, the focus returns to Dr Valonius and Marie's conversation in the dining car and what happens next should come as a surprise to no-one.

    Dunlap's story is delivered at a good pace with many scenes symbolically bathed in heavy shadows. As well as being consistently tense, it also contains some moments of humour which are provided by witty one-liners and the antics of a couple of old drunks who reside at the boarding house. The slapstick comedy is very dated in its style and won't appeal to most people but the movie's dialogue is much better.

    The quality of the acting is variable as there are some over-the-top performances but Charles Russell does a good job of conveying how troubled and haunted his character has become because of his circumstances. Mary Beth Hughes also adds some spark to the proceedings as an attractive seductress who lives at the boarding house and readily admits that she always fancies the wrong guys. Her expressions when she first meets Dunlap are great and she also gets some of the best lines as she tells Dunlap on one occasion that "you're even too bad for me" and on another "this town's washed up any way you look at it".

    This Poverty Row offering is, by no means a classic, but still remains gripping throughout its short running time.
  • This "Twilight Zone" like story is of a man who kills a woman and dumps her body on the back of a passenger car on a train leaving town. Weather conspires against him and he ends up in a boarding house, biding his time. Unfortunately, there is no way out of town and the boy living at the same house saw him dump "something" on the train. Pieces begin to be put together and he must start covering his tracks. The boy is no fool, but starts by feeling an alliance with the man. Once news of the murder gets out, lots of stuff happens. The problem is the old word "verisimlitude.' It's just hard to believe that the events could transpire as they do. There is a relationship with a restless woman which confuses things, and, of course, this boy is going to be hard to silence. There's also a story within a story, where the young woman who is eventually murdered is being counseled by an old psychic man aboard the train. I won't say any more. It's a reasonably good movie with some nice twists and turns.
  • You could be forgiven for having never heard of this curious little movie, but if you get the chance to see it, my advice would be to give it a go. It's a mix of thriller noir and twilight zone oddity.

    The characters are a total joy, some are funny, some are incredibly over the top, but each is totally endearing. Harold on the other hand is very dark, very measured, very well acted by Charles Russell.

    The storytelling was so good, so original, and gave us a really unusual twist. 8/10
  • This is a parallel film to the very remarkable and ingenious "Detour" some year earlier, the same kind of crabbed story condensed and intensified by the small scale format of limited time, but the music is missing here. Instead there is a metaphysical dimension: the film starts in a train, an elderly gentleman studies a fellow passenger of considerable beauty, a young lady like almost Hedy Lamarr, and finally he decides to tell her a story. The object of the story is to sincerely warn her from getting off at the next station, while her spontaneous answer is that she never heeded warnings. He then tells the story of someone who did not heed his warning and got off when she shouldn't have. There the film begins, and after the story the film returns to the old man and his lovely passenger, whereupon she gets off at the next station, which of course she shouldn't have done, but there is a specatacular twist to the whole thing.

    All actors are relatively unknown, it's a B-film but very remarkable as such for its very good acting, including all the family involved and the local editor, with whom the male protagonist gets a ride in to town in the beginning. It's a subtle web of destiny where all coincidences weave into each other to result in a stunning story. "Detour" is even better and more fascinating, but this is a very close relation.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As I watch Charles Russell in the lead role, I get the nagging feeling that I've seen him before, but I know I haven't. With a limited film career spanning six years, I begin to wonder if he could have gone on to bigger and better things if he hadn't been so one dimensional as he appears here. Then it hits me, the part could have just as well gone to someone like John Payne or Rory Calhoun, virtual Russell look-alikes who were on the way up around the same time who eventually wound up in classic TV Westerns (Payne in 'The Restless Gun' and Calhoun in 'The Texan').

    As film noir, this one works pretty well if you get beyond some of the quirks in the plot. Russell's character, Harold Dunlap, seems hell bent on dispatching a young teenage witness (Dale Belding) to the inadvertent murder of his fiancée. The cover of night and out of the way location provide the perfect opportunity, but Dunlap misses the chance when the kid turns around and looks at him. Now I ask you, if you're determined to kill a kid with a crowbar, why would his seeing you make any difference?

    The follow up to all this is that Dunlap and Mike the Kid play a game of second guessing each other's identity and real intentions, and Dunlap winds up looking like a sap by the time it's all over. In essence, he winds up being the most inept hoodlum ever, to the point where he doesn't even care if he gets caught or not. And by the way, is he blind? Mary Beth Hughes goes from coyly demure to smoking hot 'come on boy', and Dunlap just brushes her off. Now I know she was never meant for anything but trouble in this picture, so you think Dunlap would have obliged.

    But even with the criticism, this was an interesting flick that had one of those neat hooks that happened to bookend the story. You should have seen the ending coming, and because you didn't, it didn't leave you feeling blind sided like the 1953 film "The Limping Man". Just don't get too caught up in the way the story arc progresses, or you'll wind up going loop-de-loop well after it's over.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    INNER … is exactly what it promises to be--yet somewhat better. Mrs. Hughes and Russell are good and even, though morally objectionable, likable leads. It's made with some sense of economy, varied and suspenseful. The supporting characters are well sketched. INNER … starts confusingly, with a succession of scenes given backwards (the descending from the car, THEN the picking, AND THEN the railway station episode); anyway, the device is nice. For its time, INNER … is disturbingly violent; the atmosphere is caught with great gusto, and, if Russell's character remains unexplored and unexplained, blank, as it were, he nevertheless functions in the flick. Thou may not like this kind of movies, so unpretentious and modest; but you can not ask them to be something they are not meant to be.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This rather dark film noir with its uneasy comics (Roscoe Ates, Nana Bryant, and Billy House who even repeats his checkers trick from The Stranger) and desperate heroine (Mary Beth Hughes), is further strengthened by the forceful performance of Charles Russell who manages to make his rather ambivalent drifter somewhat sympathetic. Admittedly, he is helped in this goal by the obnoxious loudmouth and light-on-brains Mike, who, whether by accident or design, is made even more repulsive than the screenplay requires by the over-enthusiastic acting of Dale Belding. Fortunately, when the script gives her a chance, Mary Beth Hughes comes to the rescue with her animated portrait of the girl who wants to escape her small town "prison".

    In keeping with the nocturnal atmosphere of the radio series, most of the action takes place at night. However, although the picture is big on atmosphere, despite its obviously limited budget, it is somewhat deficient in characterization and motivation. The screenplay overstates the one-dimensional comic interludes, but dwells little on the forces that drive the main characters. Why does Russell murder the girl? Is it an accident? Self-defense? The script hints at these factors. But why hint? And what is the background to this meeting? So many questions remain unanswered.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "I could tell you of a forceful woman," says Doctor Valonius, a white-haired old man who can tell the correct time without looking at a watch, to the spoiled, impatient, well-dressed woman seated next to him in the club car of their train. "She knew what she wanted...and thought she knew how to get it."

    "Sounds like me," says the woman, with a satisfied smile. "Was she warned of some danger?" Her fiancé has remained in their compartment, staring out of the window as trees flash by in the night.

    "Yes," says Valonius. "She was on a train. She was warned to stay on it, but..."

    And with that we start a journey of our own in this clever low-budget noir, a journey where we will see how destiny cannot be changed, and how fate can really wear a guy down.

    When Harold Dunlap (Charles Russell) uses a cuticle blade to kill his fiancé at a station stop ("Her heart was given a manicure," says a newspaperman) he finds himself trapped late at night in a small town isolated by a flooding river. Worse, while he dumped the woman's body back on the train before it left, Mike Bennett (Dale Belding), a kid who likes to get away from his mother and have adventures, saw him Even worse, after Dunlap gets picked up while hitchhiking and realizes he can't leave the area because of the flooding, the friendly driver lets him off at the only place to stay in town, a boarding house. And among the people who stay there guessed it, young Mike Bennett and his mother. It's not long before Mike starts to figure things out. At the same time, Dunlap already has figured out that Mike, the only witness, has to be disposed of. It looks like things are going to get rough for Mike, especially when he has to share his room with Dunlap.

    And then a dame enters the picture. Jean Maxwell (Mary Beth Hughes) also stays at the boarding house. She's a blond pudding, with loose, plump lips and eyes that stare at a man's mouth. She's not trouble exactly, but she has a taste for the wrong kind of man. Harold Dunlap now has to find a way to kill Mike, get out of town as soon as the bridge reopens, and stay clear of Jean Maxwell's easy-going virtue. If one believes in destiny or in the Hayes Office, is there any doubt who lives, who may die and who just gives in to fate? In a nice circular twist to things, we end up back in that train's club car with Dr. Valonius and the spoiled, impatient woman trimming her nails.

    This well-made, unpretentious film packs a great deal of uneasiness into its 62 minutes. Unusual for a noir, it puts a lot of emphasis on humor through the comedy characters who live in the boarding house. There's the efficient owner, there's Mike and his fluttering mother, there's the warm and seductive Jean Maxwell and there are a couple of aging drunks who bicker a bit. I think it's the boarding house humor that makes the threat to Mike so effective. We might have some sympathy for Harold Dunlap at first, but then we realize he's dead serious about turning Mike into a corpse...and whom can Mike go to for help? There's just this odd collection of boarding house denizens. Charles Russell does a fine job as an ordinary man who proves more murderous than either he or we thought he'd be. Dale Belding playing the twelve- or thirteen-year-old boy is no embarrassment. He's reasonably natural in his acting and looks just like Hollywood's idea of an all-American kid, tow headed, generously freckled and with a small gap between his teeth. Mary Beth Hughes is something else. She looks so sweet...until we notice those lips and what she does with them.
  • 'Inner Sanctum' is, although quite interesting and thrilling, wasted opportunity as quality film-noir. The film opens with a scene on a train where elegantly dressed woman meets Dr. Valonius (Fritz Leiber) who tells her the story about woman being killed be her fiancee. We then are thrown in the story in the midst of the killing scene. Harold Dunlap (Charles Russell) accidentally kills the woman who's attacking him. He is shocked by his deed, and rids himself from the body by throwing it on the back of the departing train. Unfortunately, young kid Mike (Dale Belding) sees Harold dumping the package on the train. Harold tries to flee the small town, but all the roads are closed because of the floods. He is picked up by local newspaperman McFee (Billy House), who drops him off at the boarding house ran by his close friend Mrs. Mitchell (Nana Bryant). In there Harold meets a young woman Jean (Mary Beth Hughes), who herself with a shaded past, starts to feel immediate sympathy towards mysterious Harold. Unfortunately, in the same house lives the boy Mike with his mother, and when the stories about the dead woman found on the train, reach the town, Mike starts to but one and one together.

    The film has nice eerie atmosphere, and the story inside the story is interesting with Dr. Valonius storyline drawing nice circle around the main plot and neatly tying the knots. But the film seems bit rushed, as the director haven't allowed the psychological tension between the character grow enough. Otherwise neat little film-noir that manages to keep the viewer interested enough to sit through barely over an hour running time.
  • Say what you will about B noir films, but every once in a while, you come across one that is practically perfectly made. This is one of these gems. A man commits justifiable homicide (I would have set him free) against a really obnoxious woman who attacks him with a nail file. Unfortunately, he compounds his mistake through a series of unfortunate events; a flood, an eye-witness bad boy down by the tracks, an intellectual blond who constantly reads (the only one I have ever seen in cinema), and a flood. This poor guy gets the book of fate thrown at him. You are rooting for him all the way; even when he does heinous things. Not to be missed.
  • This is a cool little B movie that I almost didn't give a shot, but ultimately did because it has the Inner Sanctum title. It starts on a train, where a creepy dude with white hair stares at a woman and hints that he has clairvoyant powers. The woman, who is a bit of a chore to talk to honestly, complains about her boring fiancé and the boring train ride. So the creepy guy tells her a story, which plays out over the course of the hour and proves to be relevant to her in a twist at the end. The story is about a man who impulsively commits a murder at night and then tries to escape, but bad weather forces him back into the town where the murder was committed. Ironically he winds up staying in a boarding home run by the mother of a boy who witnessed the murder without realizing it at the time.

    Fritz Leiber's turn as the clairvoyant on the train is pretty interesting for the time. There's something so weird about him and the way his character's scenes play out. I can't think of anything else quite like it in horror or mystery films of that era. Charles Russell is good as the guy not trying quite hard enough to get away with murder. Dale Belding plays the kid and he's as corny as they come but offers quite a bit of unintended comedy ("Think of all the things I could be doing right now -- if it wasn't for my mother."). I got 'low-budget Shadow of a Doubt vibes' from this film and most of that comes from the scenes between Russell and Belding. The supporting cast, full of several comic relief characters, is entertaining without distracting too much from the serious plot.

    This is one of those movies where its cheap trappings works in its favor. The murkiness of many scenes helps add to the creepy atmosphere. The script is surprisingly decent with a number of memorable little lines. Director Lew Landers manages to build suspense effectively in key scenes. It's not a showy piece of work but it's impressive for what it is. By the way, this is not a part of Universal's Inner Sanctum anthology series from the 1940s starring Lon Chaney, Jr.
  • jem13221 September 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    I caught this B film noir quickie on a public domain DVD too, and it held my interest for it's brief running time. Handsome but sinister-looking Charles Russell is the killer on the run from the law who hides out in a small-town boarding house. Trouble is, the only witness to his crime (murdering a woman at a train station, then putting the body on the departing train) is a young boy who is the son of the widowed owner of the boarding house! The kid idolises him first, then grows to fear him as he realises that the nice guy he met at the station is really a killer. The blonde, sultry niece wants him too, but for other reasons.

    It all runs along neatly, as well as can be expected for a B feature. Russell becomes genuinely frightening as we realise he will do anything to shut the kid up. The real interest of the film, however, is in the beginning and ending. It seems at first as if the events of the film are a flashback, as a pretty young woman listens to a fortune-teller not to hop off the train. But, after we've seen Russell's tale, we go back to the train scene, and we actually end up at the beginning again. The woman listening to the story runs off the train, ignoring the fortune-teller, to her death. But why? Is she so enthralled by his tale that she somehow wants it to happen to her? Is she so spooked that she thinks Russell has already killed someone (he hasn't)? She doesn't know him from a bar of soap, and the poor guy really does seem to have had fate tap him on the shoulder. But is he a ruthless bastard anyway, with his treatment of the innocent young boy? Hmm, fascinating
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When the local DVD store owner told me that he had ordered something by the name of INNER SANCTUM, I thought that he was talking about the low-budget Universal series of the 40s with Lon Chaney Jnr. Eventually, I found out that the film on this Alpha DVD is another obscure entry from the seemingly bottomless pit of film noirs.

    As it turned out, this is an effective, brisk and surprisingly watchable little thriller with the clever (if hardly unexpected) framework of a spiritualist (the craggy-faced Fritz Leiber) foretelling the fate of a train passenger (Eve Miller) without her realizing it still packing a wallop. The main narrative, then, concerns a man disposing of the body of his girlfriend at a train station, being seen by an inquisitive young boy and afterwards being "trapped" inside the boy's household by a stroke of bad weather. The film, or rather the plot, has some similarities to Edgar G. Ulmer's DETOUR (1945; the man hitchhikes his way into town) and THE WINDOW (1949; the child witness) but the characterizations, especially of the man (a moody Charles Russell) and a girl who knows too much (a lovely Mary Beth Hughes) are well-rounded enough to make the film survive on its own notable if unassuming merits.

    Among the guests at the household in which the man finds himself a lodging are the usual coterie of eccentrics: the boy's mother (Lee Patrick) provides a hilarious scene in which she reveals at table that she's a widow in search of a new father for her uncontrollable son and this sends two other guests - including Roscoe Ates reprising his dim-witted, stuttering act from Tod Browning's FREAKS (1932) - scurrying off to their rooms in horror!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Inner Sanctum' has nothing to do with the radio show, and the title hardly prepares one for a rather ugly story. To me, this is quintessential film noir...low budget, a dark film that plays like a nightmare.

    Charles Russell is hardly the face of evil, as say, Robert Mitchum could play. But this man does not look right. An early scene sees the man killing a woman, and then quite willing to murder a boy. He menacingly tells the Mary Beth Hughes' character twice: 'you're real pretty, when your lips aren't moving...'

    There is a mysterious psychic doctor character who relates the gruesome tale to a woman on a train. This was a very clever ploy to give the whole piece a 'recurring nightmare' effect, another outstanding feature of film noir at its best.

    Is it a great movie? I was a bit disappointed in the ending. I found the usually pleasing Lee Patrick more than a bit abrasive as the doting mother. But I was fascinated in the piece enough to watch it twice. Like the movie 'Strange Illusion', the movie stays in your head...much like a recurring nightmare!
  • I picked up the "Midnight Mysteries" cheapo DVD set for some other noirs (THE SCAR, THE RED HOUSE, WOMAN ON THE RUN) but I hadn't seen this one before. A low-budget thriller in which a murderer hides out in a boarding house... but one of the occupants may have witnessed his crime. There's nothing too special going on here, but it has a brisk pace, some snappy dialogue, and Mary Beth Hughes (most famous for THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, or perhaps the Mystery Science Theatre fodder I ACCUSE MY PARENTS) is a steamy presence. Radio star Charles Russell isn't particularly riveting or anything, but he carries the film well enough. Some of the comic relief is kinda stupid, but some of it actually works. The child actor who plays a key role is a bit annoying, but not intolerably so.
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