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movie review: A Face in the Fog

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A Face in the Fog

(1936)

written by: Al Martin (from a novel by Peter Kyne)
Directed by: Robert F. Hill

Starring: June Collver, Lloyd Hughes, Lawrence Grey


Blurb: A stage company cast finds themselves terrified when a bizarre killer known as "The Fiend" targets them for death. A pair of reporters and their clumsy photographer set out to work the story of "The Fiend" and find themselves targets as well. Just as you think our trio of heroes has the case solved, you're thrown another twist that has you wondering who the killer really is.


50-screamers



Scene 01: We open (and yes, this is a Mill Creek DVD, so the transfer is very rough but I just don't want to bitch about it anymore) on a newspaper with a bold headline of "Fiend Still At Large", but we're also told that someone named Jean Monroe identifies slayer. [Presumably she's identifying 'The Fiend' and not whoever is behind the identity, or our mystery was just blown to hell.]

We spin around to reveal a woman focusing on this article. She's looking worried as tense music plays over the scene. Presumably, this is Jean worrying about her name being on the front page for the killer to see.


Scene 02: Meanwhile, on the darkened streets a clad figure skulks through the night. He takes a ladder up the side of, presumably Jean's, building....


Scene 03: Inside her apartment, presumably Jean, is sitting still worrying over what she has become involved in. She begins to look around herself, as if she might have heard the man outside her apartment, but isn't sure.


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Getting up, she glances out of her window, but then decides she's just imagining things and begins to pace. 'Jean' happens to glance in a room mirror and she spots The Fiend opening her window and crawling inside. She rushes out of the sitting room, locking the door behind her. She puts on her coat and rushes out of the apartment as the hunched over Fiend struggles with the locked door.


Commentary: The only thing I want to point out here, is just how casual this is all paced. 'Jean', if that's who she is, rushes out of the room with a gasp of fear and locks the door between her and The Fiend. And then? She stands there until she has her coat all the way on and then half-jogs to her apartment door to leave, looking not very terrorized. Also, The Fiend very nearly yanks the door open in prop-fail and he seems more puzzled by the door lock, than pissed off that his target is getting away. I also have to question why there isn't a police presence watching over Jean, if she's such a valuable witness (which seems dubious anyway, because I don't see what further value she'd have, considering how covered from toes to top of head The Fiend is). This scene definitely needed a more immediate sense of danger. The music isn't bad really, but it also isn't really dark or tense enough to help the scene, either. In fact, it keeps making me think of a Bugs Bunny short, where Bugs is creeping along - then stopping - then creeping a few more steps... all the while the monster is actually following him step for step unnoticed right at his shoulder.


Scene 04: Probable-Jean runs down the stairs to the first floor and dashes out into the night, as The Fiend gets through the locked door upstairs and follows, hunched over. It seems difficult to believe he can catch her, having to run in hunchback/gorilla-stoop posture. On the other hand, Jean does seem to be having troubles of her own trying to run in her heels.


Scene 05: Jean runs down the street and around a corner, where she hails a taxi. The Fiend is just making his way to the building's front door, so she should be able to make an easy escape at this point [which would explain why her calling for the taxi cab in no way sounded like a woman fleeing in fear ... not - one - iota of fear emanating from Probable-Jean's actress' performance].


Scene 06: But, Jean's escape isn't going to be that easy. From the bushes nearby, we see a figure holding a pistol. Suddenly, her cab driver grabs his neck and falls to the ground! We see The Fiend scuttle away into the night [Wait, Mr. Fiend?! Jean is still standing right here! She's just standing there... you could shoot again... y'know, 'cause guns hold more than one bullet... and... and... she's kinda right here? No? Okay  ---  Actually, this can be explained by the nature of the weapon. It's unfortunate that he didn't take a few moments to reload, as he still could have killed her, though].


Scene 07: Jean glances at unfortunate-cabbie's body and gives a, uh-- um -- gasp? It sounds more like a cupie-girl/Betty Boop thing, but let's call it a gasp.

She (stiltedly and clumsily) rushes off again (instead of jumping into the cab's driver seat and taking off).


Scene 08: Jean continues running, until she reaches another road, where she sees a car headed toward her. She shouts out for help.


Commentary: OH, NO. No, this is a much, much too lowkey "Help, Help." rather than a terrified "HELP! HELP!" as would be appropriate. I'm having trouble not remarking frankly and negatively on June Collver's acting, already, and we're still in the opening scene. Ayii, this could be an ugly slog.


So, Jean's standing in the middle of the road and mildly speaking loudly when she comes to the attention of the car's driver and his employer.


Commentary: Passenger both pulls faces and overacts in his first sentence. So, I thought I had an idea of what had happened here and I was going to give y'all a quick overview of when the Silent Movie was replaced by the Talkie that would have explained why the acting seems so off here. I would have had a wiki link and it would have explained why we see actors struggling with overacting (as if they were on a stage and trying to reach the back row) and severely underacting (probably trying to avoid looking so theatre because of the films preceeding it, where this wasn't done and looked overacted).

But, now, I'm really doubting that explanation. It's possible we're still dealing with formerly stage actors trying to adjust to the styles of being filmed and miked, but this is 9 years after The Jazz Singer (and, eh, I'll link it if you're interested). It's been 5 years after the far too stage-bound acting of Dracula (1931) (eh, I'll link that, too), so it seems like this shouldn't still be a problem. Unless the actors and the director were first-timers in the motion picture game and were still getting used to how it all worked and how things came across on camera? I'm not going to try researching that. I have a review to get back to... let's just reiterate that car-passenger is clownishly overacted and Jean is woefully underacted.



sc_08


Scene 09: The car stops, and Being-Driven hops out to find out what the problem is. Jean reports that a cab driver was killed in her place and when Being-Driven asks by whom, she dramatically exclaims "The Fiend"!


Scene 10: We screen-wipe to a bar. As Jean sits in the background, Being-Driven is reporting in to someone about the cabbie's murder and the police handling matters. He hangs up with his boss and rejoins Jean, where they have coffee.

Through exposition, we find out that Being-Driven is a reporter. We find out here that Jean is an editor at the paper and she's been targeted by The Fiend because of an article she had written claiming that she'd gotten a view of the murderer's face (we can tell The Fiend is already known in the area, because she had known exactly who was chasing after her when formerly Being-Driven, now Reporter-Guy came along).

I think we can start calling formerly Being-Driven, now Reporter-Guy 'Frank Gordon'.

Apparently, the article had just come out that day, as Frank didn't know that Jean had seen The Fiend. Jean admits that making public that she had seen the killer may have been a mistake, but she just wanted to draw him out into the open, so he'd be caught.


Commentary: The dialog makes it clear that Jean actually didn't see The Fiend, at all, until that very evening. Her entire article is one big lie 'to draw the killer out', which explains why the police weren't keeping a watch on her as a witness. They, no doubt, weren't informed. Jean's drawn a killer right to her with the idea that she'd... um... not have a trap prepared, not have a weapon at the ready, leaving her windows open for intruders, and not informing the police about her plan to draw The Fiend's attention. Clearly she's a mastermind, right up there with Holmes.


Their conversation is interrupted by rattling outside of the bar and both of them are on edge now. Frank leaves Jean to go out and check out the banging sound (the door? a window shutter? huh?). Frank doesn't find anything. He tells her that he'll pay for her to get a motel room until the maniac is caught, but she tells him that she's too wired to rest and she'll go back to the office with him.

They finish their coffees and head out, both of them half-convinced The Fiend is going to be waiting for them just outside the bar's door.


Scene 11: Having arrived back at their news offices, Frank and Jean report to their editor-in-chief over Jean's nearly being killed earlier and the cabbie's death. Presumably, this is who Frank would have been talking to, so I don't understand why editor-in-chief would be acting shocked at this tale.

We have exposition about The Fiend's activities. His targets have died of poisoning, but the police haven't been able to determine how he's gotten to his victims, or what type of toxin he's used. His motives are also a mystery at the moment, along with his identity.


Commentary: Jean, sweetie? The Fiend tried to murder you, honey, do you think you should be sitting in a police precinct making a report with what little you noticed?

And, uh, did none of the police read your article about seeing The Fiend's face and y'know, rushed to take you in as a material witness, until they find out you're a fraud?

And, uh, finally... is editor-in-chief not at all bothered that you're making up shit and having it published with huge, attention-grabbing headlines? Okay, that one I'll buy.



Editor-in-Chief lets us know that the coroner hasn't been able to find any marks on the bodies that would indicate syringes. He also remembers now that Jean has a note waiting that was delivered by messenger.

Before she can read it, there is a flash of light that startles everyone enough to head for the floor.


Scene 12: The flash was caused by our clumsy-photographer, Elmer. (And, probably our incompetent and odious komedy relief.) We spend a few useless moments with him, until we return to Jean's note.

The note is from somebody at the theatre who wishes to give her an interview, which excites Jean, as she's sure that she'll be able to syndicate the exclusive.


Commentary: Hmm. Which is actually distracting me now, because it seems like Jean would have offers of syndication for her eyewitness accounts of seeing The Fiend's face at least locally. Surely, there is going to be professional consequences to her having made the whole thing up? Of course, I guess she could now tell them about her being attacked and simply ignore her egregious lying that led to her targeting in the first place... yeah, I can walk with that.


So, anyway, this interview is a big deal for Jean and so she still won't be speaking to the police about the fact that she was nearly murdered and directly witnessed a cab driver being killed just hours ago. The Editor-in-Chief doesn't want her to go, because the previous two murders associated with The Fiend were among the cast at that theatre. And, it's not like Jean has anything else to do... like... editing articles, which would be her job.... Or, y'know, talking to the police...?

Elmer makes statements that prove him to be comedically, deeply dumb which gains the scorn of Frank.


Commentary: I have a serious problem with Elmer's characterization and it has nothing to do with his obvious komedy-relief role, so much as Al St. John's portrayal. The issue I have is that he's taken his role too far. When the other characters are speaking in the office here, watch him in the background of the scene... and then put this together with his dialog recitations. This feels a lot less like he's comedically stupid, and a lot more like he's suffering some form of mild retardation. He's too ... well, not madcap, in a way that odious comedy relief usually would be overacted. I admire his keeping some restraint on his performance so that he won't be actively painful, but because of the addition of his physical acting and the blank looks on his face, it's gone too far in the other direction for the role's place in the story. It makes Frank's impatience and hostility toward him seem cruel and mean-spirited, instead of 'funny' as it was clearly meant to be.

And on a different observation, what the hell was the hold/focus on Lloyd Hughes' face trying to react to June's dialog, instead of on June actually delivering it?? That was a really weird shot, when she wasn't saying anything that he'd need to react to... she was just explaining why she'd like to go through with the interview, rather than stay in the office where there is a modicum of safety... nothing shocking, or ... anything, really, that would justify his giving us reaction-face. That was a bizarre directing choice.



Jean goes off to the theatre, but not without Frank to act as escort. Elmer inserts himself in the assignment, also.


Scene 13: At the theatre, Jean and Frank walk down a dark and mist-shrouded alley to the cast door. (We don't see Elmer at all, so apparently he didn't join them in the cab, despite only being 10 steps behind them in the building... Frank's doing? Because, the last scene makes me feel like Frank is a bit of a douche.)

We also see a hunched figure in a dark cloak stalking the alleys.

A moment later and we see a gun being prepared to fire. Jean and Frank continue down the longest alley ever. The Fiend loads an extremely small gun with an extremely and unusually large 'bullet', presumably meant for lying-Jean.


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We switch to a view of the alley and expect Jean and Frank to stroll into view before a shot goes off... but no... instead we wipe to the inside of the theatre where dancing is happening on stage.


Commentary: Grrrrr. That was completely stupid. Why is The Fiend hanging out in the alley and preparing to shoot Jean, if he's just gonna allow the two newspaper people to walk past unmolested? What is Robert F. Hill thinking, for this tense build up to another attempt on Jean's life just being - literally - wiped away without a thing happening?


Scene 14: Theatre... stupid floor show... guy dressed in, well, that outfit is... interesting.

Frank and Jean enter the theatre (grrrrr, completely not shot at). The stage manager greets them, and he recognizes Jean's name from her (lying)article about seeing The Fiend. He directs that they can wait in the wings for the man she's there to interview.

This gives Jean and Frank a good view of the rehearsal show. I'm assuming here that she's going to interview the male dancer, who apparently is also the guy that is producing the show.

As this is happening, the disabled The Fiend, limps in through the side door as well. The stage manager is, presumably, still with Jean and Frank, allowing the killer access without being seen.

As the show/rehearsal goes on and on, The Fiend has taken to the catwalks (hmmm... it doesn't seem like he'd be able to manage ladders that quickly, if at all, considering his twisted limbs -- this is completely justified later).

The stage manager reminds Frank and Jean to remain quiet and returns to his post, as our couple continue to watch this dance review and The Fiend is hopefully getting into a position to kill somebody.


Scene 15: In the meantime, our photographer arrives in his cab finally, and promptly falls out of it onto the ground (commence laughter... I'll wait for you).


Scene 16: (Now that you've gotten control of yourself) We jump back to the stage wings, where our primary dancer/choreographer greets Jean and Frank. He's surprised to see the reporters there, as he hadn't been expecting them.


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With this twist, Frank realizes (although, pretty dully) that Jean was lead into a trap. In the meanwhile, The Fiend kills the stage lights. Frank grabs Jean and the two rush out, leaving choreographer wondering what the hell is going on... just in time to catch the silent bullet meant for Jean and collapse to the floor with a pained gasping for air.

This causes a panic, as the girl dancers beg for the lights and run from the stage screaming. Frank searches the dark for their attacker, as he and Jean take refuge behind some metal scaffolding.


Scene 17: The theatre owners, meanwhile, rush out of their office to find out what all of the commotion is. The sounds also draw the stage manager away from his post, which allows The Fiend to leave the way everyone came in.

He skulks down the alley, briefly hiding in the heavy shadows as Elmer makes his way down that super-long alley, still.

For some reason, The Fiend chooses to bum rush out of the alley past him, knocking him to the ground rather than stay hidden until he passed but also doesn't kill him.


Scene 18: (OH MY GOD, NO THEY DID NOT) Elmer gets up, and does a Three-Stooges "Oh, wise guy, eh?"

He gathers up his tripod and continues toward the staff entrance into the theatre, not realizing that he has just brushed by The Fiend.


Scene 19: Back in the theatre, the owners go to find the lightswitch, but it is otherwise quiet. Elmer comes into the stage manager door. He gives a pleased little laugh as his entrance "causes" the lights to go back on.


Commentary: Okay, that was a pretty cute reaction moment for him. But, it just adds to my feeling that he's kinda not-all-there, which means that our hero should still be treating him with more patience, which leads me back to the office scene where Frank ended up giving me an impression of being a butthole... which is a small problem since he should be our leading man and stalwart hero protecting Jean (although right now, the only thing keeping her safe appears to be the bad aim of our killer).


With the lights returned, everyone gathers around Wallington, our choreographer. He still has a heartbeat. No one seems interested in rushing to a phone for help.

Wallington is able to gasp out that he knows who the killer is (but how, is a question not answered) but expires before he can name him/her. As this is happening Elmer joins Jean and is filled in... he realizes that he was just knocked down by The Fiend in the alley.


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Commentary: And for reasons I cannot even fathom, since this isn't the place for out-and-out comedy relief, he is pulling faces like he's the knock-off version of Stan Laurel.


Scene 20: Sometime later, Jean, Frank and Elmer are gathered around a desk. Elmer tells Frank that he's sure that he saw The Fiend, but then asks Frank -who is on the phone with Editor-in-Chief, to make sure that the paper prints that he wouldn't be able to recognize him again.


Commentary: See, that was another funny moment. And, Elmer isn't pulling faces here or being "comedically stupid"/borderline-retarded-for-laughs either. Al St. John is actually good at throwing out a little deadpan, and the director should have had him doing this sort of thing, instead of the intrusive komedy mugging.


It turns out that everyone is gathered at the police station (I think), where the lead detective (police chief?) informs them that their report of Wallington being shot isn't consistent with the mode of death. According to the coroner, he was poisoned just like the others (although, he was definitely shot and so should still have a wound).

Elmer and the Police Captain exchange dialog that is ill-timed and weird.... Elmer says that he didn't know it was illegal to shoot a Adagio Dancer, but he says it with a completely serious expression... not deadpanning in a dark comedy moment at the expense of the male ballet dancer... (!?!).

Anyway, the Chief tells them he's bringing in amateur sleuth, Peter Fortune, who has a theory. He states that Fortune would be there in five minutes, but his phone immediately rings announcing that Fortune already is there.

Elmer mentions facetiously that time certainly did fly.


Scene 21: Tuxedoed-Gentleman-Sleuth, Peter, comes into the office with a huge grin. Peter Fortune immediately gives an odd impression, which I'll explain in a second. He tells the theatre owners in the room that he was very sorry to hear about Wallington as the man was a grand fellow (Is this making up for Elmer's crack?) and was of immense value to the show (which we'll find out is Peter Fortune's show, because he's the writer and producer).


Commentary: So there are two things I want to consider here. The first I wasn't going to mention at all, because the evidence is so scant it could just as easily have been my own prejudice... and yes, I'm human, I do have them. When we first saw Wallington, and specifically his over-the-shoulder-halter-top, I immediately thought "gay". I pushed that thought away, because obvously there are plenty of straight ballet dancers (but that costuming choice...), but then the way that Elmer said he didn't realize it was illegal to shoot an Adagio hit my ears really wrong (because of that lack of 'dark humor' tone to it) that really just sounded like Unfortunate Implication. Now, we have Peter Fortune going out of the way to assure us that the deceased Mr. Wallington was a grande man and it was really a shame about his getting killed... which again feels to me like our choreographer was meant to be homosexual, but we were only being told this through slight visual cues, Elmer's dialog/wrong tone and Peter Fortune meant to come across to us as enlightened and intelligent as contrasted with Elmer's being stupid and prejudiced.

I don't know... it is very possible that I'm reading far too much into this, which is why I didn't want to bring it up to begin with, but...?

Anyway, I also wanted to address my first impression of Peter Fortune. My first thought was, "this will be our killer", but I have no idea why. I think this may be a case of casting-fail. Lawrence Gray is really odd as a tuxedo-clad gentleman detective. His bearing is wrong, his voice is wrong, the recitation of his dialog is wrong. He feels very much like he would have excelled in Elmer's role, actually. It's hard for me to articulate what is wrong, except to state that he seems far too grinning and ebullient to be the amateur sleuth who has made it a pursuit to help the police in this setting. He is also apparently in the theatre, as he mentions a positive review that Jean wrote for one of his plays. Which also adds to my problem with him on first impression... if this is his show, and he's had three people killed, including his coreographer who he apparently immensely respected, why the hell is he grinning so much?!

This is probably my fail, more than the casting actually... I have an image in my head of gentleman detectives and Peter Fortune doesn't have the gravitas or weight that I was expecting for this character. We'll have to see if he grows on me. But, I still object to his not being more somber when people he apparently knew are dead.



The Police Chief asks after Peter's theory on how the killings occurred. Peter puts forward the wild theory that the killer is using concentrated, frozen poison and is firing it from a specially constructed firearm. The poison ice melts nearly immediately upon entering the warmth of the human body, delivering its lethal cargo.


Commentary: Naturally, he's correct, as we've seen the special gun/bullet already... which was a poor choice. We shouldnt've seen that until after the explanation in order to be left wondering how in the world these victims were dying of poison if there has been no bullet, but they were shot. It's a very neat murder weapon, if quite elaborately silly, but we were shown how The Fiend was operating too soon.


This theory naturally causes the Chief to be taken a bit aback, but he doesn't dismiss the idea out of hand. Peter assures him that it is quite possible, because he's seen such a weapon before. He also believes that he may even know their killer -- a man named Sanchee. Peter Fortune reveals that Sanchee has acted as a technical advisor to him in constructing the modes of murder used in his plays and not only is he extremely clever when it comes to thinking up such twists, but he already even gave Peter this exact sort of scenario for a murder mystery script.

The Chief naturally wants to question Sanchee immediately, but Peter states that he doesn't know his current whereabouts. He reports that he is familiar with a few of his haunts, but he generally shuns others because of his hunchbacked deformity. This news gets Jean's and Frank's attention, as they know the killer has been hunched over severely.

Peter tells the police that he'll work to locate Sanchee for questioning, mentioning that he has a vital interest in finding out what is going on, as his play has now lost three members. But, he won't let that bring down his mood!

Mr. Fortune suggests that Jean should stay at a hotel until we can get the case resolved, which she assures him she's been planning on. One of the theatre owners then tells her she should stay at such-n-such place where the cast are staying for the play. He suggests she'll feel more securely that way.


Commentary: I'm sorry, but say wha? The cast has had two of their members killed. Jean wouldn't have even been on the killer's radar if she hadn't of faked that story about seeing his face, so apparently the play's members were the target. But let's have Jean want to stay with them "for security", anyway?! That isn't safe! No one would think that was safe! If anything, Jean should be under police guard in a safehouse, not hanging around with the original targets to make it easier for the murderer to get to her and whoever else he wants to kill. In fact, why is this show even still on?! Why wouldn't the actors and crew begin getting the hell outta dodge after the second mysterious killing? It's not like they're at a summer camp and the roads have been washed out by a storm, or anything.

Hmm. I was kind of liking this movie a bit, too ... stupid brain.



Everyone has a plan. Fortune introduces himself to Elmer, randomly, who quips a random quip back at him that is weird and out of place and random.


Scene 22: Okay, this next scene is a real mess because of the movie print but I'll try my best.

I believe we're with Frank Gordon in a room next to Jean's at the hotel. Shortly after arrival, somebody arrives and there is dialog. I believe this is Reardon. I don't know what they're talking about, but it refers to the possibility that Elmer told something about Jean's staying there to somebody.


Commentary: Damn. I have a feeling that there is a critical plot point being made here. The problem with 1930's men is that conformity in suits were so prevalent... even worse than the 50's, I think. It can be really difficult to keep track of whom is who, especially when everyone has the same dark hair, slicked back.


Frank decides to check in with Editor-in-Chief for some reason that I'm missing because of the skip/dialog missing in the scene. He's not in.

Reardon tells Frank that it sounds like he was right... but I don't know what about. I'm assuming this has to do with Fortune, since he's had a big introduction and is currently supposed to be tracking down the mysterious Sanchee... but I'm missing important information.

Anyway, Frank decides to contact Police Chief, but Reardon offers to do so. He picks up the phone and allegedly calls the police dispatch, but we can see that he's depressed one of the cradle-buttons, effectively making sure the operator doesn't actually answer (oh, how to explain rotary phones... ah, a wiki-link, of course).

Reardon pretends to be contacting the local precinct.


Scene 23: In the meanwhile, Elmer has called the hotel operator to be connected through to Frank's room. Because Reardon has the cradle depressed, the call from Elmer connects, which causes the phone, allegedly in use, to ring. WHA-Wha-whaaaaaaaaah.

Frank asks what the big idea is. They have a fistfight.


Commentary: Unfortunately, we have a lot of teleporting going on around the room because of film damage/missing frames. It is making it difficult to keep up with what is happening, beyond Reardon is mixed up in something bad and Frank and he are fighting. Reardon, I supposed, may be The Fiend (not so hunchbacked and twisted of body) but that isn't clear at the moment.


Scene 24: Next door, Jean hears the struggle through the connecting door between their rooms.


Scene 25: At the lobby phone, Elmer hears Frank yelling that he'll break somebody's neck (obviously Reardon, but since he didn't use his name I have a fantasy that Frank will be shockingly killed right here, while keeping the killer unknown to Jean and the listening Elmer). Frank and Reardon continue their fistfighting as Frank warns Jean to keep the door closed and locked.


Scene 26: Jean rushes to her own room phone, but discovers the cable has been cut on her.


Scene 27: Frank is knocked to the floor long enough for Reardon to make an escape. He goes after him in pursuit. Reardon escapes over a balcony... apparently, anyway.


Scene 28: With Frank out of the room looking for Reardon, we see The Fiend arrive at Frank's floor and enter his room. He knocks at the connecting door and identifies himself as Frank to be let into Jean's room. But, she suspects that his muffled voice isn't Frank's and puts him off with a "wait a minute".


Scene 29: In the meantime, Elmer is at the lobby phone. He is having another mentally deficient moment as he thinks that the sound of The Fiend talking through the door to Jean is Frank trying to respond to Elmer's call, despite the "I'll break your neck" and sounds of fighting he must have heard over the phone.


Scene 30: Out at the balcony, Frank has given up looking over the side for Reardon. He runs back to his room, to hear Elmer calling a confused hello over the line. The Fiend had heard Frank returning, and has dropped into a crouch near the bureau by Jean's door.


Commentary: And, as you can guess, though he is hidden from the viewer's sight, Frank couldn't have missed him without being legally
blind. Oh, movie, you were doing so well. And, with my not holding being confused about Reardon against you because of the damaged
scenes, I was going to give you a positive review. I still might, but you're starting to look like you're reaching for FAIL now.



Frank tells Elmer that Reardon is mixed up in the killings somehow and asks him to inform the police (instead of hanging up on his ass and calling them himself right now). His lack of peripheral vision allows The Fiend crouching near Jean's door to be missed by him.


Scene 31: Jean, hearing Frank's voice, calls to him to ask if he had just been at her door. Frank looks in that direction... and hey, there's The Fiend now. With a gun. Which he is only now bringing to bear in Frank's direction.

The Fiend takes a shot at Frank, missing wildly. He makes his retreat, as well.


Scene 32: Frank tells Elmer over the phone that The Fiend is in the building, leaving him stuttering comedically... I guess.

He next rushes to the door and knocks for Jean to let him in. She tells him that they need to get to his phone and call the police, but he tells her they'll sit tight as Elmer is going to summon them.


Scene 33: Alas, Elmer is going into a faint, instead (but not without pulling an extended mugging for the camera first).


Scene 34: Sometime later, we rejoin our sleuth (The following day? No, it's the same day as we'll see in a bit, it's just confusing). Peter knocks on a door. This turns out to be a ... storage shed? Garage? I don't know what is happening.

Outside, another guy with a bundle approaches and notes the door isn't latched closed. He looks around the area suspiciously, while inside, Peter chooses to hide and wait.


Scene 35: The shed or whatever has a card waiting on a table with Jean's hotel name written on it. The new guy is Reardon and when he sees the card on the table, he crunches it up and throws it aside... I guess, in frustration?

He has a costume in that bundle he was carrying, which turns out to be a hunchback cloak. But Peter is there, remember, and he grabs a camera conveniently lying around and snaps a photo of Reardon in the act before taking him into custody by pulling a gun on him.


Scene 36: At the police, after the photo has been developed, Peter tells Da Chief that he thinks Reardon may have been Sanchee all along, as Reardon sits there sweating.

Reardon denies this is the case, but Peter reminds the police chief that in his dealings with his contact, Sanchee always kept his face carefully hidden from view.

The police chief asks Reardon why he was at Sanchee's place if he isn't him, after Reardon points out he can't be held over the wild theory of Peter.


Commentary: I'd personally be more interested in why he was dressed up as The Fiend, not to mention getting dressed as The Fiend at Sanchee's place, but y'know, my focus might be why he's dressing in the hunchback get-up looking like a serial murderer.


Reardon, though, can't come up with a story to explain the Sanchee-is-not-me thing, let alone trying to explain away The Fiend costume and is taken away to a cell. He exclaims his innocence on his way out.


Scene 37: With Reardon in custody on suspicion of the murders, Da Chief thanks Peter Fortune for his assistance. The Chief explains that he's going to gather everyone who was in the theatre during the Wallington murder, including their chief suspect and asks for Fortune to join them in the morning there.


Scene 38: Back with our sometimes-idiot,othertimes-borderline-slow photographer he comes to on the floor of the phone alcove. Elmer calls into the precinct (where Da Chief has nothing better to do then answer every call that comes in personally) to report Frank's exclamation he overheard about The Fiend being in the hotel.


Commentary: Unfortunately, we have more film skips and dropped dialog. Instead of Da Chief telling Elmer they have The Fiend in custody red-handed putting on his costume, he says something to prolong this conversation. Elmer says, "I don't know!" ... but alas, we don't know what he doesn't know because we didn't get to see & hear that part.


Anyway, Da Chief arranges for Elmer to meet him outside of someplace or another right away.


Commentary: Uh. Not at the hotel where a seemingly second The Fiend was spotted? Not at Frank's room, where he could be lying on the floor poisoned himself? Not at the room of Jean, who we know The Fiend is particularly interested in thanks to her made up published story of getting a glimpse of his face?

Oh. And, because you're suddenly the only person in the precinct (the only other guy is presumably escorting Reardon to booking) you're not going to call in back-up to check on any of the above, either?

Okay. Just checking.



Scene 39: Shots of men running. Unnecessary and silly looking shots of men running (you cannot run in business suits and not look ridiculous).

Da Chief... who has managed to wrangle up three other men, after all, meet up with Elmer and ask if he knows Frank's room number - which he doesn't. [*SIGH* And, which is irrelevant. You're the fucking police... flash a badge at the desk... what do you need Elmer for? Where the hell are you meeting? Is this the hotel; was Elmer actually calling from somewhere else? I'm confused!]





TBC in PART II
Tags: review a face in the fog
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