Review of “The Frozen Ghost” (1945)

trailer from YouTube

This is this week’s Saturday night pizza and bad movie offering. This pizza and wine were good, and the movie a bit weird. We watched it with Svengoolie

Plot:

Gregor the Great (Lon Chaney Jr.) performs as a mentalist, that is—at least in this context—one who is able to put another person into a trance. He performs with his fiancée and partner, Maura Daniel (Evelyn Ankers), who can read the minds of audience members once in a trance.

One skeptic (Arthur Hohl), who is also good and drunk, declares it’s done with mirrors. Indeed, he trips on one of those mirrors on the way up to the stage. Enraged with the man, Gregor whispers that he could kill him. He stares into the man’s eyes. The man keels over, dead.

Gregor is so distressed he gives up his career, breaks off his engagement to Maura, and disappears from public life. The coroner declares the cause of death natural; the poor man was an alcoholic and had a bad heart, but that doesn’t stop Gregor from blaming himself for the man’s death.

Gregor’s business manager, George Keene (Milburn Stone), suggests he stay with a friend of his, Mme. Valerie Monet (Tala Birell), who owns and runs a wax museum because—why not?

Instead of rest and relaxation, Gregor—now using his workaday name, Alex Gregor—finds himself in the middle of a lot of tension. Mme. Monet is sweet on him. Her niece, Nina Coudreau (Elena Verdugo)—who is far too young for him—is star-struck. The sculptor of the wax figures, Rudi Polden (Martin Kosleck), has eyes for Nina, who thinks he’s a creep. Rudi was once a plastic surgeon, at least, until the incident

Maura tracks Alex down, just to check up on him. Mme. Monet’s jealousy flares, and she provokes him into putting his whammy on her. She faints, and he high-tails it out of the museum. When he returns, no one knows where Mme. Monet is. Could she be (gulp) dead?

Thoughts:

This is one of six Inner Sanctum mystery movies. The Inner Sanctum series began in 1930 with books featuring drama and romance but was most well-known for its mysteries. It became a renowned radio series, lasting from 1941 to 1952. The radio program opened with a creaking door and closed with a signature, “Pleasant dreams, hmmm?” The horror/mystery was delivered tongue-in-cheek.

Some of the tongue-in-cheek play makes its way into the movie. For example, Rudi Polden, the failed plastic surgeon—is his second career choice really to build wax figures? His sinister facial expressions and constant lurking around are just this side of parody. At one point, he appears to be part of an exhibit.

Police Inspector Brant (Douglass Dumbrille), who questioned and exonerated Alex after the death of the unfortunate, inebriated skeptic, also investigates the disappearance of Mme. Monet. He stops by the Shakespeare exhibit in the darkened museum and, before a figure of Hamlet, begins to recite, “To be or not to be….” At his side, the bad guy is busy trying to throw a cloak over the figure of the missing Mme. Monet.

After having said this, I hasten to add the movie is not a farce. Most of it is in deadly earnest. Did Alex really kill the poor drunk? What happened to Mme. Monet? Will Alex and Maura get back together? What about Nina? (She’s too young for him anyway. ICK.) And what about the eccentric Rudi?

While I liked this a lot about this, there were a couple of things I found annoying. First was Alex Gregor’s prolonging whining sessions. GEEZ, dude. Not like you have to worry about turning into a werewolf or anything.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate this as a free download.




Title: The Frozen Ghost (1945)

Directed by
Harold Young

Writing Credits
Bernard Schubert…(screenplay) and
Luci Ward…(screenplay)
Harrison Carter…(original story by) and
Henry Sucher…(original story by)
Henry Sucher…adaptation)

Cast (in credits order)
Lon Chaney Jr….Alex Gregor / Gregor the Great (as Lon Chaney)
Evelyn Ankers…Maura Daniel
Milburn Stone…George Keene
Douglass Dumbrille…Inspector Brant
Martin Kosleck…Rudi Polden

Released: June 1, 1945
Length: 1 hour, 1 minute

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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