Shadows on the Stairs (March 1, 1941)
Released on March 1, 1941: There are multiple murders and disappearing tenants in a London rooming house filled with many clues and suspects, but very few answers.
Produced by Bryan Foy
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Written by Frank Vosper and Anthony Coldeway
The Actors: Frieda Inescort (Mrs. Stella Armitage), Paul Cavanagh (Joseph Reynolds), Heather Angel (Sylvia Armitage), Bruce Lester (Hugh Bromilow), Miles Mander (Tom Armitage), Lumsden Hare (Police Inspector Gregg), Turhan Bey (Ram Singh), Charles Irwin (Constable), Phyllis Barry (Lucy Timson, house maid), Mary Field (Miss Phoebe Snell), Paul Renay (Hindu sailor), Sidney Bracey (watchman), Manuel Lopez (Hindu sailor), Paul Panzer (taxi cab driver helping Ram Singh)
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Rooming House, or Slaughter House?
The most delicious murder mysteries subtly reveal clues that we may or may not recognize, all pointing to the killer, if we are sharp enough to pick up the clues and interpret them correctly. Usually the clues are not thrust at us openly and clearly, but in this one clues come fast and furious from the opening scene. I don’t mean to brag, but after watching so many murder mysteries over the years, it is usually very easy for me to see the real clues and know quickly where our story is heading. I just paused the movie after 30 odd minutes in, and I must confess, I am clueless . . . . No . . . . Let me correct that. I have so many clues rattling around in my head that it is overwhelming . . . . And none of them point to a solution that I can be satisfied with. . . . . . Like a thousand piece jig saw puzzle . . . . Every piece to the picture is in front of me, but at this moment I cannot see how the pieces will fit in any reasonable way.
Okay, I have now finished the movie, and all I can say is . . . . . Whooooooeee. The final plot-twisting revelation came with fewer than 90 seconds remaining, and I never saw it coming. I’m not saying that YOU won’t be able to figure it out . . . . . I’m only saying that I never imagined the ending even a few minutes ahead of time. I will be careful with an introductory description because I don’t want to lead you too far down any particular path.
As our adventure opens we are on the dark, foggy docks of the Themes in London. A taxi driver is sitting alone in a cab when someone whistles, and whistles again. The taxi driver gets out of his cab and hurries over to the edge of the dock, where he helps a Hindu man carry a large box into the cab and drive away. In the shadows another man wearing a head turban watches silently. . . . . And in the distance is another car with a man staring intently at the action on the dock. The taxi drives off, carrying the big box and the Hindu man who brought the box off of a ship and onto the dock. Behind the taxi the man who was watching from another car is following at a distance.
Then we find ourselves in a rooming house in London, and the man who was following the Hindu fellow in the taxi enters the rooming house, turns out the light and goes upstairs to his room. Soon the Hindu fellow enters the same rooming house and goes up to his room, without the big box. I must not go very much further in the story so that you can enjoy the plot on your own. Just know that the next night that rooming house will enjoy multiple murders, disappearing tenants, and more clues without any connection than my old but experienced soul could put together . . . . What a tasty treat! Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Bruce Lester and Charles Irwin
Bruce Lester and Frieda Inescort
Bruce Lester and Heather Angel
Bruce Lester, Heather Angel and Turhan Bey
Bruce Lester and Heather Angel on the stairs
Bruce Lester kisses Heather Angel
Charles Irwin, Bruce Lester and Heather Angel
Charles Irwin and Bruce Lester
Charles Irwin and Lumsden Hare
Charles Irwin, Mary Field and Bruce Lester
Frieda Inescort, Heather Angel and Lumsden Hare
Frieda Inescort and Mary Field
Frieda Inescort and Mary Field
Frieda Inescort and Paul Cavanagh
Heather Angel and Bruce Lester
Heather Angel, Frieda Inescort and Lumsden Hare
Heather Angel and Frieda Inescort
Heather Angel, Lumsden Hare and Charles Irwin
Lumsden Hare and Bruce Lester
Lumsden Hare and Turhan Bey
Paul Cavanagh and Frieda Inescort
Paul Cavanagh and Mary Field
Phyllis Barry and Paul Cavanagh
Phyllis Barry and Turhan Bey