20 June 2003 | django-1
Surprisingly good mystery with silent-film era plot
I got this film because I like 40s/50s mysteries, because I like Richard Conte, and because it was directed by William Castle and thus HAD to be interesting. Actually, it is an excellent little mystery. New York-based producer Conte comes out to LA to make some films and rents an old studio building that hasn't been used since the silent era (which was only 22 years ago at the time of this film). The last year of silents, 1929, a major silent director was killed at the studio, and the case has never been solved. Conte decides to research the director and the murder for a film plot--he digs up a few of the people who worked at the studio and learns more about the mystery... while a new mystery starts to develop and the guilty party from 1929 starts to cause trouble again. It's as cleverly plotted as the best Columbo or Perry Mason episode, and Conte as always is powerful and sympathetic. He was one of the great post-WWII stars and his work should be revived today--watch THE BROTHERS RICO sometime! Great supporting cast with Jim Backus, Richard Egan, the lovely Julie Adams, and silent star and 30s independent-film regular William Farnum. It's always good to be pleasantly surprised by a film that delivers much more than you expected, and this is such a nice little mystery. It's not on video or DVD, but keep your eye out for it.