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Inner Sanctum Mysteries (1944-1945)

Cast: Jean Parker, Richard Whorf, Paul Kelly, more...
Director: Julien Duvivier, Reginald Le Borg
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Classics, Horror, Suspense/Thriller, Classic Horror, Classic Horror

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: (Disc 1 of 2) (1944)

Calling Dr. Death (1943)

In this first of Universal's "Inner Sanctum" mysteries, Lon Chaney Jr. plays a neurologist plagued by a faithless wife. He suffers a bout of insanity, blacks out, and loses all track of time. Upon returning to his home, he discovers that his wife has been murdered. Investigating detective J. Carroll Naish is certain that Chaney is the murderer, and tries to browbeat the suspect into a confession. Chaney himself is half-convinced that he is guilty, and in conducting his own investigation learns the truth. All we can say without spoiling the film is that the truth hurts. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Weird Woman (1944)

The second of Universal's "Inner Sanctum" thrillers, Weird Woman stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Norman Reed, a college professor worried about the sanity of his new bride, Paula (Anne Gwynne), who was raised in Hawaii with all manners of superstitions, including voodoo. Jealous of Paula, Norman's former girlfriend, librarian Ilona Carr (Evelyn Ankers), does what she can to ruin the marriage, including suggesting to fellow professor Millard Sawtelle (Ralph Morgan) that Norman is about to expose him as a fraud, and helping moonstruck college girl Margaret Mercer (Lois Collier) obtain a job as Norman's assistant. Margaret's advances quickly become grating to Norman, who summarily throws the girl out of his office, and Sawtelle commits suicide rather than face disgrace. Mrs. Sawtelle (Elizabeth Russell) blames her husband's death on Paula's supposed witchcraft and Margaret's boyfriend, David (Phil Brown), physically attacks Norman. The boy is killed in the ensuing struggle and Norman begins to question his own sanity. Until, that is, he finally puts two and two together and sets a trap for Ilona. Based on the 1943 novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber Jr., Weird Woman was remade twice, as Burn, Witch, Burn (1962) starring Janet Blair and Witches' Brew starring Lana Turner. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Dead Man's Eyes (1944)

The third installment in Universal's low-budget "Inner Sanctum" mysteries, Dead Man's Eyes promises a great deal more than screenwriter Dwight W. Babcock can deliver. Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Dave Stuart, a struggling artist promising his fiancée Heather Hayden (Jean Peters) that he will marry her as soon as he finishes a portrait of beautiful Tanya Czoraki (Acquanetta). The jealous Tanya causes Dave to have an accident that blinds him. According to eye specialist Dr. Sam Welles (Jonathan Hale), Dave's sight can only be restored by a cornea transplant and Heather's father, "Dad" Hayden (Edward Fielding), promptly wills the unfortunate young man his own eyes. When Dad is found killed, Dave becomes the obvious suspect but Welles nevertheless goes ahead with the operation. Tanya, meanwhile, has her suspicions about the identity of the killer, but before she can reveal the name to Heather, she, too, is killed. Although the operation seems at first to have been a failure, Dave regains his sight just in time to unmask the killer, who is made to confess. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, All Movie Guide

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: (Disc 2 of 2) (1945)

The Frozen Ghost (1945)

An installment from Universal's "Inner Sanctum" series (whose trademark featured an introduction narrated by a spooky disembodied head), this low-budget thriller stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as luckless stage hypnotist "Gregor the Great" who, after seemingly causing the death of one of his audience volunteers, is forced to go into hiding. He is eventually offered a job by Rudi Poldan (Martin Kosleck), assistant curator of a wax museum. This apparent stroke of good fortune is actually part of a nefarious scheme concocted by Gregor's sleazy manager (Milburn Stone), with whose assistance Rudi hopes to drive the unbalanced performer off the deep end and steal away his girlfriend (Evelyn Ankers). Chaney's performance is less than compelling and fails to give this low-rent programmer the melodramatic boost it desperately needs. Despite the title, no ghosts actually appear -- frozen or thawed. ~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide

Strange Confession (1945)

Strange Confession was the fourth in Universal's "Inner Sanctum" B-picture series, all of which starred Lon Chaney Jr. Chaney plays an idealistic writer who allows himself to be used by a politically ambitious publishing mogul (J. Carroll Naish). Not only does the publisher distort the sociological content of Chaney's works for his own purposes, but he also steals the writer's wife (Brenda Joyce). Chaney exacts a grisly revenge and turns himself over to the police. This is a scene-for-scene remake of the 1934 Claude Rains vehicle, The Man who Reclaimed His Head, which in turn was based on a play by Jean Bart. Universal was forced to completely withdraw the remake from theatrical and TV distribution when the studio realized that it no longer controlled the rights to the original Bart play. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Pillow of Death (1945)

This lesser "Inner Sanctum" entry stars Lon Chaney Jr. as unhappily married lawyer Wayne Fletcher. In love with his secretary Donna Kincaid (Brenda Joyce), Fletcher is the principal suspect when his wife is found smothered to death in her own bed. Lack of evidence allows Fletcher to walk scot-free, whereupon a series of "pillow murders" commences, all of the victims somehow linked with either Fletcher or Donna. The pseudo-psychological finale wants to have its cake and eat it too, permitting Fletcher to be both innocent and guilty. Among the murder victims is Clara Blandick, who under happier circumstances played Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Tradeshown at 65 minutes, release prints of Pillow of Death run a few minutes short of an hour. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: (Disc 1 of 2) (1944)
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6.50 (8 votes)
Inner Sanctum Mysteries: (Disc 2 of 2) (1945)
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7.67 (6 votes)

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