The Phantom of Crestwood
from a story by Bartlett Cormack and J. Walter Ruben
Most of the movies from the Thirties and Forties that I review here contain rather strong elements of comedy and many would probably qualify as comedies first and mysteries second. Not so for The Phantom of Crestwood, which elicited barely a snicker. I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to but it was a nifty piece of work all the same.
This one falls firmly into the old dark house sub-genre but with a stronger element of whodunit than many of the others I've seen. The gist of things is that Jenny Wren, a young and not at all unattractive woman, has summoned a quartet of wealthy and powerful men whom she's had dealings with in the past to a gloomy old estate called Crestwood. Once they've all gathered she puts the squeeze on them for a rather sizable amount of money.
Given all that, is it so hard to believe that Ms. Wren is soon bumped off? I'd say not. At which point Gary Curtis (Ricardo Cortez), a fellow with a shady past and a gang of thugs on hand, turns up to sort it all out. I think I missed a key plot point in all this but apparently Curtis believes for some reason that he'll be fingered for the crime if he can't prove who really did it.
All of which is rather nicely executed, if you ask me, and there's plenty of that old dark house atmosphere to add spice to the proceedings. This one's definitely worth a look, if you go for that sort of thing.