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Mystery Liner

USA 1934
produced by
Paul Malvern for Monogram
directed by William Nigh
starring Noah Beery, Astrid Allyn, Cornelius Keefe, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Edwin Maxwell, Ralph Lewis, Boothe Howard, John Maurice Sullivan, Gordon De Main, Zeffie Tilbury, Howard Hickman, Jerry Stewart, George Hayes (= Gabby Hayes), George Cleveland, Olaf Hytten, Ray Brown, George Nash
sceenplay by Wellyn Totman, based on the novel The Ghost of John Holling by Edgar Wallace, cinematography by Archie Stout

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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 arrests him.


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.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD