The Crooked Circle (September 25, 1932)
Released on September 25, 1932: The Crooked Circle, a secret group of counterfeiters and crooks decides to murder one of the 'Sphinx Club', a group of amateur detectives that have been giving the Circle trouble.
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
Written by Ralph Spence and Tim Whelan.
The Actors: Zasu Pitts (Nora Rafferty), James Gleason (Arthur Crimmer), Ben Lyon (Brand Osborne), Irene Purcell (Thelma Parker), C. Henry Gordon (Yoganda), Raymond Hatton (Harmon the hermit), Roscoe Karns (Harry Carter), Berton Churchill (Colonel Walters), Spencer Charters (Kinny), Robert Frazer (the stranger), Ethel Clayton (Yvonne), Frank Reicher (Rankin), Christian Rub (old Dan), Tom Kennedy (Mike, policeman), Paul Panzer (cult member).
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If you are a fan of Zasu Pitts, you will enjoy this movie, and even if you are not, you will enjoy character actor Tom Kennedy - he is the policeman that is stuck with our group in Melody Mansion as the lights go out. This is supposed to be a horror thriller, but the comedy of Zasu Pitts and Tom Kennedy keep us smiling throughout the murderous night at the mansion. At one point when Zasu is telling the arriving group of men about the legend, the Colonel tells her laughingly that her story is only a myth. He asks her if she knows what a myth is, and she replies confidently that a myth is a female moth. It is Zasu at her comedy best, who along with policeman Tom Kennedy keep us from being really frightened at this spooky, haunted house adventure.
Our movie opens with a scene from the secret occult hooded group that decides that Colonel Walters, from the Sphinx Club must be killed, because the Sphinx club has been bothering them. Colonel Walters is just about to move into a new mansion that he purchased, Melody Mansion. His housekeeper Nora (Zasu Pitts), is already in the house, and she is told by the spooky caretaker bout the haunting of the house. It seems that a previous owner plays a violin on dark nights, and when the clock strikes thirteen, yup, thirteen, . . . someone gets killed. That night the Colonel's buddies accompany him to his new home, because he has received a note predicting his death that night. I'm skipping a ton of detail, as we learn that the Crooked Circle has infiltrated the Sphinx Club in just about every way possible. We suspect that almost everyone in this cast is a secret member of the Crooked Circle, and it will take a long journey on a dark and lonely night in the haunted Melody Mansion. By the time we have finished munching our hot buttered white kernel popcorn we will know everything, but along the journey we'll be mystified at the goings on, and the secrets of Melody mansion.