One Frightened Night (May 1, 1935)
Released on May 1, 1935: An eccentric millionaire decides to divide his fortune among his relatives at midnight, but will they all survive until midnight?
Directed by Christy Cabanne
Written by Stuart Palmer and Wellyn Totman.
The Actors: Charley Grapewin (Jasper Whyte), Lucien Littlefield (Dr. Denham), Mary Carlisle (the second Doris Waverly), Regis Toomey (Tom Dean), Arthur Hohl (Arthur Proctor), Fred Kelsey (Sheriff Jenks), Evalyn Knapp (the fake Doris Waverly), Clarence Wilson (Mr. Felix), Wallace Ford (Joe Luvalle), Adrian Morris (Deputy Abner), Hedda Hopper (Laura Proctor), Rafaela Ottiano (Elvira the maid).
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It was a dark and stormy night, and all of the relatives were invited to the eccentric old millionaire's estate for dinner and a night that none of them would ever forget . . . if they survived. Pop a big bowl of hot, white kernel popcorn and drizzle it with lots of warm melted butter and a dash of salt, because this thriller will keep you engrossed to the end. This thriller involves a familiar plot - lots of relatives wanting the old man's fortune, and one of them is willing to kill for it . . . but the plot is much more involved than that, stay tuned for every twist and turn because it will be a bumpy ride to the solution.
Our movie opens with old man Jasper, and he is hosting a dinner for his closest relatives. The inheritance laws will be changing at midnight, and he is determined to give away his fortune before he dies and the state takes a big chunk. After dinner he tells them all that they, and his friend the doctor, will each get a check for a million dollars at midnight, before the new law goes into effect. Of course, he says, if he could have found his long lost grand-daughter, she would get the whole fortune, and the rest of them would get nothing. But his daughter left years ago and married a man that Jasper didn't like, and he never saw them, or his grand-daughter, again.
So all of the relatives are basking in the anticipation of their new fortunes when the doorbell rings and Jasper's lawyer enters with a girl that he claims is Jasper's long-lost grand-daughter. Of course all of the other relatives are terribly upset that they will now get nothing, and this girl will get all of the wealth. But while Jasper is enjoying the company of his grand-daughter in one of the mansions rooms, Tom, one of the relatives enters with news that there is another girl downstairs claiming to be Jasper's grand-daughter! So Jasper goes downstairs to meet the next Doris Waverly, and while he is downstairs, the Doris Waverly upstairs in her mother's room either commits suicide by drinking poison coffee, or is murdered by someone in the house.
The clues to the first granddaughter's murder start adding up, but we know that sometimes clues point to the wrong person, so we'll just note them and move on. The family interactions continue between them and the second granddaughter, and someone tries to kill her also, but isn't successful the first time. Who is the murderer? One of the extended family that wants to get Jasper's money? Elvira the maid, who seems to be more than just a maid? A stranger that we haven't met yet? And which girl is the real Granddaughter? The first one that was killed? The second one that appeared and is surviving so far? Neither one? And who is the mostrous figure that is seen lurking around the darkness of the night? You've got to watch it to believe it!