Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Black Raven|
Actors: George Zucco, Wanda McKay, Robert Livingston, Noel Madison, Byron Foulger
Director: Sam Newfield
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Released in 1943 by the low-budget outfit Producers Releasing Corporation, The Black Raven offers what amounts to a watered-down "old dark house" mystery. George Zucco is in top form as Amos Bradford, the criminal owner of... more »
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Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY
Reviewed on 4/13/2012...
George Zucco plays the Black Raven, the owner-operator of a safe house where crooks that are escaping to Canada can hole up. In the middle of nowhere, it is the only place to stay for travelers bound for the Great White North who are stopped by a bridge being washed out by a rain storm.
The travelers make up a diverse group. A young couple is trying to elope, but they are pursed by her father, a vengeful political fixer. A rackets kingpin is trying to leave the USA, because he’s been forced out by the political fixer. A meek but excitable bank clerk has embezzled $50,000 (that’s $537,000 in 2011 dollars) because he’s feeling unloved by his plutocrat employers. Lurking about is an escaped convict bent on revenge against The Black Raven for landing him in the pen. More hindering than helping The Black Raven is his bellhop and handyman, who provides the comic relief, along with the cranky Sheriff.
It’s a big cast so numerous among them end up without having much to do in this slight variation of the Creepy Old House genre. The movie is well written (especially giving all the characters a plausible motivation) and but for a couple of slow spots in the middle moves along at a reasonable pace. With some comedy and twists that show a little more thought than usual went into the script, this is a little better than the average thirties and forties PRC programmer.
It was a very dark and stormy night
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 02/02/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a fan of George Zucco, but I found this movie exceedingly tedious. For one thing, I couldn't see what was going on half of the time; a significant part of the action takes place either in darkened rooms or outside in the pitch black rainy night. This also contributes to a problem I had of keeping a couple of characters straight, especially the criminal types who spend most of their time hiding or stomping around huddled in rain gear. There was also very little character development-we just get one-shot glances at some of the individuals, and this lack of depth gave me little with which to distinguish some of them in my mind. One guy's a criminal who has broken out of jail in order to get revenge on Zucco's character "the Raven," (whose shadiness of character is never quite clear, particularly in terms of the past and the present). Another guy is apparently on the run after having been sold out by his own crooked boss. Then you have the stereotypical little guy who is sick of being treated like the cowardly runt he is and has embezzled fifty thousand dollars. The only half way normal people we meet are a man and woman whose plan of eloping to Canada has been delayed by the storm outside. Her father, some kind of criminally inclined businessman himself, tracks his daughter to the Raven's hotel, thus setting the stage for the night's drama. He is murdered, the embezzled money disappears, and the incompetent sheriff doesn't have the time or desire to actually investigate a crime, especially since it's so much easier to just pick somebody out and pin everything on him. The plethora of killings that follow each of his arrests greatly annoys him. The second half of the film basically consists of different people, often unidentifiable to me because of the darkness on screen, running around the house hiding from, ridiculing, and basically annoying each other. Perhaps if I had been able to actually see what was going on, I would have enjoyed this movie. Even George Zucco didn't seem to have his heart in this film. His cinematic get-togethers of either invited or unplanned guests are usually interesting, but this is an exception."
Dark Stormy Night
Ned | Eldersburg, Maryland United States | 12/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"George Zucco plays Bradford the owner of a country inn and Glen Strange playing as a bumbling oaf. On a stormy night "The Black Raven" is visited by a convict with a grudge against Bradford, a bank teller who has stolen $50k, and a couple that are eloping.The atmosphere is excellent i.e., an old dark house on a stormy night!Glen Strange is the one that played Frankenstein the last three "Frankenstein" movies House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, and of course he played Sam on Gunsmoke."
Where has THIS one been? It's GREAT!!!
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 11/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film has it all as far as I'm concerned.
Up front, I need to say that I'm a HUGE fan of old black-and-white mystery/suspense films... so, if you're NOT such a person, this movie probably isn't going to turn your crank.
But, for fans of the genre, this one offers darn near every great old stereotype that has been seen to date (but no darting, beady eyeballs from behind portraits, dang it!).
Zucco operates an old isolated hotel (The Black Raven, by name) near the eastern U.S. -- Canadian border where he is in business smuggling both goods and people back and forth across the border at a good profit. He is assisted in this dubious endeavor by his dark and somewhat mentally-diminished step-and-fetch-it, played by the great Glenn Strange (a frequent portrayer of the Frankenstein Monster in various films).
Due to a big-time rainstorm, (which prevails throughout the movie), and which 'washes out the bridges', a dark and swarthy cast of characters are funnelled into the hotel, mostly for reasons of being-up-to-no-good. About the only legitimate folks there includes one nice-looking and sincere couple, whom are elopeing to Canada to get married, not having the blessing of her dad, a big crooked business magnate -- he shows up to put the skids to the marriage but gets knocked off and solving this mystery is the focus of the main story-line.
As I said, there are multiple sub-plots (a weasely embezzeler, a vengeful convict, a slick mafia thug, etc.), all manifested by the best character actors of the period. The sheriff who shows up to investigate the murder is wonderfully played by Charles Middleton, of Ming The Merciless (Flash Gordon) fame!
A surprise, Zucco shows his ethical side by trying to aid the young couple, as the fiance is suspected by Middleton of knocking off his future father-in-law. So, Zucco, while a crook, becomes a very sympathetic character -- that's a nice caveat of the film.
This movie conveys the essential ambiance of 'The Old Dark House' but the film quality is far superior with great sound and few film-scratch lines. The set is also just the best, with cool rooms and groovy old accoutrements. Zucco's ability here to generate an atmosphere-noir is reminiscent of his great performances in both 'Fog Island' and 'The Feathered Serpent'. In fact, the producers used the very same intrigueing filmscore here as was utilized in that latter great entry.
In the end, early-period mystery/suspense fans won't want to miss this fine movie. I don't know where it's been all these years but I'm glad that someone finally retreived it from the archives and got it on to DVD!"