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A mysterious killer called the Fiend who (for no reason at all)
kills with frozen poison bullets - which if anything shrouds his method of
murder in mystery - is after reporter Jean Monroe (June Collyer),
basically because she claims he has seen his face, falsely claims so as it
later turns out. She has made the claim only to lure the Fiend out into
the open, but then she is called away to do an interview at a theatre, and
the Fiend strikes again - only he hits Jean's interviewee (George Ball)
instead of her. Incidently, the theatre the Fiend has struck is the one
where all the former murders have happened, and while its impresario
Reardon (Jack Mulhall) is driven to desparation because of them, its
resident playwright and amateur detective Peter Fortune (Lawrence Gray)
offers to help the police with their investigations. Furthermore he claims
he knows a man, Sanchez, who can lead them right to the murderer ...
the murderer after her and knowing where she lives, Jean doesn't want to
sleep in her apartment this night, so she moves into (of all places) the
same hotel the theatre people are staying at along with her boyfriend,
investigative reporter Frank Gordon (Lloyd Hughes). At the hotel, Reardon
soon starts to act mighty suspicious, and ultimately Fortune comes up with
evidence that he is the killer - but he denies everything, claims he was
set up by someone else ... but during a reenactment of the last murder, he
is shot dead like all the others - which at least clears him of being the
murderer. At the scene of the crime, Frank finds a cigarette case he
thinks belongs to Fortune. Now that doesn't prove anything, since Fortune
spends most of his time at the theatre and might have lost it months ago,
but Frank keeps it, is sure it's vital evidence.
sidekick Elmer (Al St.John) follows Fortune to what seems to be Sanchez's
hideout, and he sees Fortune dispose of a gun.
Fortune drops by Frank's
place and asks him whether he has seen his cigarette case, and when Frank
denies it, he tells him he is going to see Sanchez now, but claims he has
to see him alone - knowing that a reporter like Frank can't help it but
follow him. Frank promptly walks into the trap of course, finds out that
there was never a Sanchez in the first place, and that the cigarette case
Fortune was so anxious to get his hands on contains the frozen bullets he
used to kill all those people. Fortune prepares to shoot him, but Elmer
has since returned to the place with the police in tow, and the cops kill
But why did Fortune do it?
Many years ago, his brother worked
at a theatre owned by the men who own the theatre Fortune is working at
now. He died in a fire when the theatre burned down, and the owners were
accused of arson but released ... and so, Fortune wanted to have revenge
by first making their theatre big thanks to his plays, then destroying
them completely by his killing spree.
Poverty row crime
thriller that never fully comes into its own: Bascially, there are some
gaping plotholes while the method of murder so much emphasis is put upon
is completely irrelevant for the plot, and the whole thing is mighty
far-fetched. All that is not helped by a stagey directorial effort and the
fact that the entire cast never manages to escape mediocricy. And former Keystone
Cop and Fatty Arbuckle associate and later Fuzzy
Al St.John is left with way too flat a role to turn it into anything