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Professor Grimson (Ralph Lewis) wants to test his new invention, the S
505, a device to remote control ships that would revolutionize warfare,
aboard the luxury liner Guthrie. But before he can pull it through, an
attempt on his life is made, & it seems in the ship's captain Hiolling
(Noah Beery], who has conveniently just gone mad, a tailormade suspect is
found, & he is soon dragged off to a sanitorium.
Only Grimson is not
convinced about the captain's guilt & hires Major Pope (Edwin Maxwell)
to find out who's really behind it all. Soon it is found out that Holling
was really drugged into becoming the maniac he was, & Pope is
confronted with a wide array of suspects: the new captain Downey (Boothe
howard), first mate Cliff Rogers (Cornelius Keefe'), Lila (Astrid Allyn),
the nurse Downey & Rogers are fighting over, von Kessling (Gustav von
Seyfferitz), who's mainly among the suspects because he is foreign,
an eccentric granny (Zeffie Tilbury), or even stewart Simms (George
Cleveland), who's favourite pastime seems to be eaesdropping. & then
captain holling has escaped the sanitarium too, so he might also be on
board & sek revenge. Oh, & need I mention a foreign power
is naturally after the S 505 as well ? I think not.
Be that as may, Pope
decides that the S 505 tests should be caried through in any case, evn
after Downey, the new captain, is killed too, & Simms swears he has
seen captain Holling aboard the ship.
A mshort time after the tests
commence, the foreign power takes over the ship using their own remote
control device, but it turns out that captain Holling is not only not mad
& indeed aboard the Guthrie, but also has taken precautions against
the S 505's takeover by providing a secret passageway to the S 505 that's
kept in some safe, & thus the ship is saved. & the killer is -
well, Pope of course, he was the only one not suspicious enough. &
prime suspect Vvon Tessling turns out to be a secret service agent, who
A very convoluted &, let's face it,
silly mystery plot, filled up with a great number of pulp mainstays (as
was often the case with Edgar Wallace novels), like the customary hooded
mystery man, the invention that will revolutionize warfare (which is
represented by all kinds of fun electronic gadgets, the ominous foreign
power & a sheer endless number of eccentric secondary characters,
all of whom are prime suspects at one point or another. Of course several
important questions are left open in favour for a more lively mystery
plot: why is the S 505 - which will revolutionize warfare - tested on a
luxury liner full of passengers ? Why does the scientist Grimson ask for
Pope, an enemy spy as it turns out, to investigate& why is the foreign
power so hell bent on getting the S 505 when they already have a
radiocontrolling device of their own ?
Don't expect the film to answer
any of these (or many other) questions, it's actually a pretty routine
& somewhat lame Edgar Wallace adaptation where the killer is once
again pulled out of the hat instead of found through deduction.