Here's the first Inner Sanctum entry starring Lon Chaney as Dr. Mark Steele, Patricia Morison as Stella Madden, J. Carrol Naish as Inspector Gregg, David Bruce as Robert Duval and Ramsay Ames as Maria Steele. Notice the tagline after the title, that's from the original ad, which even has a grammatical error in it! Cool!
David Hoffman is the spirit of the Inner Sanctum, he warns us about the upcoming sinister murder mystery we are about to experience...
This one had me on the edge of my seat, Dr. Steele has been accused of killing his wife, but things get extra weird as the story evolves, amazing what you can do in a 62 minute movie!
Dr. Steele is home at dinner after a day's work, but what's missing is his derelict wife Maria.
After she shows up at 3 am, Mark and her get into an argument. After Maria crashes on the bed, Mark goes in to strangle her but hasn't the guts to do so...
He knows she's having an affair, and after he finds out that Maria has gone to their cabin at Spring Lake for the weekend, Mark gets in his car and speeds away towards the lake on that Friday. He's so caught up in his thoughts that he's not really paying attention to what he's doing and almost hits the train at a crossing, but skids out into the brush.
Then on Monday morning, Mark wakes up at his office when his secretary and assistant, Stella, shows up for work. Mark looks like Hell and thinks it's Saturday, not Monday. He can't remember anything after the incident with the train. What's cool about this story is we get to hear the characters thinking out loud quite a bit! I really liked that.
But alas, Maria has been brutally murdered, the police show up and take him to the lake to identify the body, and Inspector Gregg (not shown) let's Mark know that he's keeping his eye on him for obvious reasons...
Later, Mark meets with Maria's lover, architect Robert Duval, who has been incarcerated for Maria's murder. Even Mark doesn't believe that Robert murdered her.
Mark is tortured by the fact that he may have been the one that killed Maria because of his lapse of memory and the frame of mind he was in. Again, we get to hear his anguished thoughts.
Okay, here's the thing... Mark is a doctor who uses hypnosis to help cure his patients, in this case, he allows Stella to hypnotize him and ask him questions as to what happened during his memory lapse. She agrees and records his answers on a small record
Inspector Gregg pops in and Stella plays the recording to prove Mark's innocence, and after it plays a bit, Gregg tells her to turn it off. He tells Stella that it doesn't prove anything.
The Inspector asks Mark for some matches to light his cigarette and notices from the cover that it's from Spring Lake, not cool.
Robert is set to die in an electric chair at 6 am in the morning, seemingly depressed by the situation, Mark and Stella decide to go to the movies to get their mind off their troubles. But why did they go to see a comedy, everyone's laughing except them. And after a failed dinner, they decide to just go hang out at the office...
With only an hour to go before Robert is to be executed, Stella is nodding off so Mark has her sit in the hypno chair. He immediately hypnotizes her and starts asking her a few questions...
Stella has no choice but to tell the truth now!
She spills the beans, her and Maria were both after Mark's money, and Robert was broke and looking to go with either lady that got to the money... The walls were closing in on her!
Oh yeah, she killed Maria with a fireplace poker over the dough!
And, when Mark was hypnotized, she just basically told him what to say before she recorded that segment without her question/statement.
While hypnotized, we see poor Robert walk up to the camera where he faints and drops down, but when the guards pull him up, it's freaking her!!
Low and behold, Inspector Gregg had been there the whole time! And when Stella backs out of the room, two big cops are waiting there to take her away!! The Inspector calls the governor and Robert is saved from the chair. Also, he tells Mark that he was never a suspect, just thought he could help direct him to the murderer. This one's a gem!!