Calling Dr. Death
Ben Pivar (associate) for Universal
directed by Reginald Le Borg
starring Lon Chaney jr, Patricia Morison, J. Carrol Naish, David Bruce, Ramsay Ames, Fay Helm, Holmes Herbert, Alec Craig, Frederick Giermann, Lisa Golm, Charles Wagenheim, Mary Hale, George Eldredge, John Elliott, Robert F.Hill, Al Ferguson, Paul Phillips, Rex Lease, Frank Marlowe, David Hoffman, Jack Rockwell
written by Edward Dein, special photographic effects by John P.Fulton, musical director: Paul Sawtell
Inner Sanctum, Universal horror cycle
Available on DVD !
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Neurologist Dr Steele's (Lon Chaney jr) marriage to his wife Marian
(Ramsay Ames) was all but happy, so when she one day turns up dead, it's
no surprise that he is not overcome by grief - but it's also no surprise
that in Inspector Gregg's (J.Carrol Naish) book he is the prime suspect of
the murder. Problem is, Doc Steele doesn't only have no alibi for the time
of the murder, he is also hit by a case of severe amnesia, so he doesn't
even know what he did on the whole weekend the murder occured ... so even
he himself doesn't know for sure if he committed the murder or not. In the
whole world it seems only his nurse Stella (Patricia Morison), who is also
his secret sort-of lover, believes he is innocent, and she provides him
with an alibi that all but convinces the inspector.
Ultimately though, the murderer seems to be found with Robert Duval
(David Bruce), whom Marian had an affair with and who eventually turns out
to be an extortionist. However, when Steele interviews the man in prison,
he becomes convinced that the man is innocent - a conviction which
inspector Gregg shares.
Doc Steele does everything to find the real killer and save Duval from
being hanged, but all the clues seem to invariably be pointing back to
himself, and only what he has remembered under self-hypnosis - hypnosis
being something he frequently uses in his job - proves him innocent ...
not enough for inspector Gregg, who keeps hounding him.
Finally, we have arrived at the night before the execution, and Steele
hasn't come up with anything that could prove Duval innocent. Overcome by
guilt and depression, he asks Stella to spend the night with him (not what
you think) to keep him diverted, but to little avail. Then though in his
office, Stella falls asleep, and for some reason Steele has the idea of
hypnotizing her - and wouldn't you know it under hypnosis, Stella
confesses to have murdered Marian and to have run a fine little racket to
extort money from Doc Steele togethr with Robert Duval ... wow.
Fortunately enough, inspector Gregg has been listening in on the whole
session and now arrests Stella while at the same time calling off the
Sloppily written horror/crime thriller that uses a few plottwists too
many for its own good and often gets unnecessarily confusing for all the
wrong reasons. And Lon Chaney jr's whispering inner voice gets at
times positively annoying or simply ridiculous. That said, if you like
clichéd B-crime-cinema from the 1940's and do not care too much about
stringent and logical screenplays, you might find yourself liking this one
... just don't expect too much !