This week's Saturday Night Special is a story that some people think was interesting enough to make into a movie multiple times, and then even more.
"Seven Keys To Baldplate" was the very first novel written by Earl Derr Biggers, and was made into a film seven times, and two other times with a different title, but same basic story line. Earl Derr Biggers also created the character Charlie Chan, and seemed to have a fondness for the word key. Some of his other writings were titled "The House Without A Key," and "Keeper Of The Keys."
The star of this 1947 version is Phillip (The Leech Woman) Terry as mystery writer Kenneth Magee. It's a cold night and he's on a train headed to Baldpate, a resort in the middle of nowhere. Baldpate is supposed to be vacant for the winter, but the owner, a Mr. Bentley, has given him a key, because they have a bet that he can't write a story in one night without being scared off.
There's a lot of this!
The station master is reading one of Magee's books, but doesn't like it that much because he thinks there should be more "shooting," and not so much "thinking' and talking."
The station master gives Magee instructions on how to get to Baldpate. The station master was played by Erville (The Feathered Serpent) Alderson. Erville had a whopping 214 credits to his name.
When Magee arrives at Baldpate, he finds out that it is not as vacant as he was told. He's greeted by the not so friendly Eduardo (Monster From Green Hell) Ciannelli as Cargan, who says he is the caretaker.
Gee Whiz, and I thought I had the only key!
The original title of the story Magee is writing was "A Key To Baldpate," but he decides in a hurry to change the name to "Three Keys To Baldpate," as more and more characters keep showing up.
This krazy olde galoot lives down the road, and crawls through the window in Magee's room. He wants to steal Magee's fancy typewiter so he can write a book about why he hates women. He's known as Pete The Hermit, and was played by Jimmy (Dick Tracy's Dilemma) Conlin.
This is Jacqueline (Movie Pests) White as Mr. Bentley's secretary Mary Jordan. She was sent to Baldpate to help setup Magee for a scare, and keep him occupied so he won't have time to write. She calls her boss to tell him that all is going well, but that she didn't know there were going to be other people there. Mr. Bentley tells her he didn't hire anybody else, and suddenly they both know something isn't right. Jacqueline White just turned 99 about two weeks ago on November 23.
Unfortunately for Mary Jordan, Magee overheard her call, so no matter what she says now, he's not going to believe her whether it's true or not. Behind them is Arthur (Daughter of Dr. Jekyll) Shields as another character with a key, a Professor Bolton.
I probably should have shown you more of the characters who show up with keys, but I just like this shot of Cargan and Mary Jordan's face to face.
Magee's getting a big kick out of all the character's performances, and is feeling pretty smug thinking it's all fake, and not knowing that everything happening around him is real, and that he's in great danger!