Wellll, in the last reel anyway. Maybe everybody knew about this movie but me, but it came as a great surprise to watch it tonight and find that it had an honest-to-goodness --
It's a Republic "mystery" with an English setting. A rich, grouchy old lady has young relatives (Evelyn Ankers, George Leigh) living in her castle-like house. She thinks Leigh is a ne'er-do-well who stole her broach, and argues with him. He leaves, gets drunk in a pub, starts trouble and is put in jail. While he's in jail overnight, the old lady is killed. To make a long story short, he did it; he's a slippery rascal, and later kills the jail turnkey who secretly let him out in the middle of the night to commit the murder (because the turnkey "turn"ed blackmailer). A Scotland Yard detective (Richard Fraser, the Quaker in BEDLAM) is sure Leigh is the double-murderer, but Leigh's awful clever and Fraser can't pin anything on him.
So far, so dull.
THEN, Fraser gets the idea that, because Leigh is superstitious, he should get Ankers to throw a party at their house, lots of guests, and Fraser hires an old actress to make herself up as the dead woman; this actress is supposed to enter and try to scare Leigh into a confession. The party starts, winds howl, the lights go out, the "ghost" appears, she harasses Leigh, the other guests (all "in on it") say they don't see her, and finally Leigh cracks and charges at her and says, "Okay, I'll kill you AGAIN!!" The lights (and the cuffs) go on, everybody turns to congratulate the actress on doing such a good job -- and she's not there. A door to the outside opens and closes by itself. A telegram arrives from the actress: "I've got influenza, can't make it. Can we do it tomorrow?" Scary music as we fade to black and THE END.
Yup, a Republic version of "Banquo's Chair" complete with real ghost. Move over, MARK OF THE VAMPIRE!!
Other points of interest:
Gil Perkins must have had great friends at Republic. In one scene he's a detective, called into his boss' office; after he stands there a minute as the boss talks to someone ELSE, the boss says to Perkins, "You can go." Perkins did nothing, there was no reason for him to be included in the scene other than an excuse to give him a paycheck. He's more or less told to come in, and then when he comes in, is told to go out. Nice work if you can get it.
And THIS was kind of wild: In one pub scene, I recognized two or three bit players/extras from the pub scene in THE INVISIBLE MAN. Okay, they were probably Englishters and appeared in 50 pub scenes, but ... it was just funny to see several AT ONCE in a different movie, so all I'm thinking about as I watch the scene is THE INVISIBLE MAN. The phone rings, somebody answers, and we find out the name of the pub: The Lion's Head Inn! Can this allll have been coincidence?