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Comments on old movies from an old and passionate guy

“Murder by Television” - Sci-Fi Murder Mystery
released on October 1, 1935
running time 54 minutes

The Actors: Bela Lugosi (Dr. Arthur Perry), June Collyer (June Houghland), Huntley Gordon (Dr. Henry M. Scofield), George Meeker (Richard Grayson), Henry Mowbray (Chief of Police Nelson), Charles Hill Mailes (Professor James Houghland), Claire McDowell (Mrs. Houghland), Hattie McDaniel (Isabella the cook), Allen Jung (Ah Ling the houseboy), Charles K. French (Donald M. Jordan, head of International Television Corporation), Larry Francis (Mendoza), Henry Hall (Hammond), Billy Sullivan (Reardon the watchman), William H. Tooker (Allen), Ruth Cherrington (party guest), Wally Dean (party guest), Sam Harris (party guest), Lew Hicks (plainclothes policeman), Frank Meredith (plainclothes policeman), Dick Rush (detective)

The Interstellar Death-Ray

Bela LugosiFour years after this poverty row low-budget murder adventure, the maid in this story, actor Hattie McDaniel, would become famous for her role in “Gone with the Wind,” but this day she is in a low-budget murder mystery with a fascinating twist.

When I was a youngster watching a television set that had a huge, heavy picture tube, I was often warned not to sit too close to the picture tube because, in addition to creating a moving picture on the front glass of the tube, it showered the room with dangerous rays of radiation. In this murder mystery, one of the characters has added a twist to an experimental television hookup that will turn the television camera into an interstellar death-ray.

From today’s world, some of the science demonstrated is fiction, with fertile imaginations guessing at the future of television. Of course, some of their wild ideas have actually become reality, like being able to see a live view of Paris and China, or any other place on earth - except London. Today we don’t even think about the awesome ability to experience any part of the world in real-time.

With today’s eyes, I would have called the ‘bells and whistles’ of the electronic equipment used quite primitive and unbelievable, but the television equipment in the movie was not created by movie set specialists who were guessing what television equipment might look like. The budget for this movie was thirty-five thousand dollars, a modest amount that would allow for a reasonably good hour of entertainment. But the producers then spent seventy-five thousand additional dollars to borrow real experimental television equipment to use in the story. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

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