House of Danger (November 10, 1934)
Released on November 10, 1934: On his way home to investigate the mysterious death of his father after a long absence, Ralph is injured and convinces his buddy Don to take his place . . . even with his girlfriend Sylvia.
Directed by Charles Hutchison
Written by C.C. Cheddon and Jack Natteford.
The Actors: Onslow Stevens (Don Phillips), Janet Chandler (Sylvia Evans), James Bush (Ralph Nelson), Desmond Roberts (Gordon, the butler), Howard Lang (Mr. Weatherby), Nina Guilbert (Aunt Lydia), John Andrews (Martin), Tove Linden (Helen), Roy Rice (Stanley, first chauffeur), Stan Scharling (Frank, second chauffeur), Chang (ship's cook), Wally West (party guest Joey).
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Okay, so Ralph runs away from home as a young teen and finds adventure in the South Seas. Back home is his girlfriend Sylvia and cousin Martin, and dad. Many years later he is returning home to investigate the mysterious death of his father, but an accident on the ship causes Ralph to be injured and unable to return. Ralph convinces his buddy Don to go back to his home and impersonate him, and make sure that his sweetheart Sylvia, a ward of his dad, is not cheated out of her portion of his dad's estate. When Don gets to the house everyone thinks he is Ralph, and even though it is very obvious that he is different, and cannot remember things that he should, he gets away with the ruse, except for dad's old friend and lawyer. The lawyer tells Don that he should continue his deception because there is something fishy about dad's death, and the lawyer thinks that Don can help uncover the killer. Don is torn because he is falling for Sylvia, Ralph's childhood girlfriend. Things get a bit more interesting when the real Ralph appears, and discovers Don and Sylvia at a party discussing wedding dates!
Ralph is incensed, and the real Ralph, Don pretending to be Ralph, and the family lawyer have a meeting in the library. The real Ralph learns that his father was probably murdered by the new butler, hired by Martin, so that Martin can have the entire inheritance. But now that Ralph is back, Martin will need to kill Ralph so that he can have the family fortune. So now Ralph isn't so mad at Don for making time with his girlfriend, and convinces him to keep on pretending to be Ralph, and Ralph will pretend to be Don, so that Don can be the bait for the killer instead of Ralph. Nice guy, this Ralph - he is very willing to have Don impersonate him when he learns that he will be the target of the killer. I'm already hoping that Don winds up with Sylvia instead of the real Ralph.
The action gets even better as the killer tries to kill Ralph . . . er . . . . I mean Don, pretending to be Ralph . . . and of course, it is a dark and stormy night, full of lightning and loud thunder to mask the sound of gunfire. So pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn and drizzle it with plenty of warm melted butter, and enjoy the murder mystery story that is the pinnacle of plots for old movie fans . . . because this time it is the truth and the whole truth . . . THE BUTLER DID IT!