Wednesday, September 3, 2014

R.I.P. Film Review: The Thirteenth Guest


Peril on the Screen:

And just like that....One film screening down. I love the people on Youtube who spend time posting those old black and white movies like the ones I used to see on Saturday/Sunday afternoons--back before DVDs or even the AMC channel were thought of. The first entry for Carl's R.I.P. Reading Event is The Thirteenth Guest (1932) featuring Ginger Rogers and Lyle Talbot, among others.

The story opens with Marie Morgan (Rogers) returning to the family home on the event of her 21st birthday. The house has been abandoned since a dinner party hosted by her father on the occasion of reading his will--a party that ended with his death. She has been advised by Mr. Barksdale, the family lawyer, to visit the house and follow instructions left by her father. As she sits at the dining table remembering that dinner thirteen years ago, she hears a noise and goes into the hallway to investigate. A shot is heard, corpse is found--but electrocuted, not shot--and the mystery is off and running.

Image Credit
Captain Ryan of the local police investigates with the aid of a rather dim-witted plainclothes detective, but winds up calling on wise-cracking private detective Phil Winston (Talbot) to get to the bottom of things. It appears that someone, perhaps the mysterious "13th guest" from that original dinner party, is killing off the family one by one--and seating the corpses round the dinner table just as they were seated thirteen years ago. Will Winston and Ryan be able to catch the killer and discover how s/he did it before the macabre guest list is complete?

This is a fun little B movie. Lots of spooky old house atmosphere, especially at the beginning, and there's the creepy killer scuttling through the shadows and in secret passages (albeit wearing the utterly ridiculous hooded outfit--one movie poster makes it look like Batman--without the bat "ears"--is abducting Ginger Rogers). There's a fair try at plot twists...that don't quite work. I still spotted the culprit. And the comic relief provided by the dim-witted detective is a bit heavy-handed. But the story is fast-paced, fun, and a good way to kick off the R.I.P. Event.


Unknown said...

This sounds like an enjoyable movie and a great start to R.I.P. I can't even remember when was the last time I watched a black and white movie.
I hope you enjoy the event.

Ryan said...

This sounds fun. I think I'll be watching youtube in bed tonight!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bev - I love the sound of this (even though the posting on YouTube is almost certainly illegal, so knows how long it will be there!)

Bev Hankins said...

Hmmm. Sorry it's an illegal post...but definitely watch it while you can.