(director: Kurt Neumann; screenwriters: William Hurlbut/story by Erich Philippi; cinematographer: Charles Stumar; editor: Philip Cahn; music: Heinz Letto; cast: Lionel Atwill (Robert von Helldorf), Gloria Stuart (Irene von Helldorf), Paul Lukas (Captain Walter Brink), Edward Arnold (Commissioner Forster), Onslow Stevens (Frank Faber ), William Janney (Thomas Brandt), Elizabeth Patterson (Cook), Muriel Kirkland (Maid), Russell Hopton (Max, Chauffeur), Anders Van Haden (Stranger), James Durkin (Commissioner’s assistant); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Henigson/ Carl Laemmle Jr.; Universal; 1933–B/W)

A not so bad old-fashioned Haunted House film that turns in a different direction.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A not so bad old-fashioned Haunted House film that turns in a different direction. It’s competently directed by German emigre Kurt Neumann (“Watusi”/”The Kid From Texas”).

What appears to be a ghost story switches tracks to a psychological thriller. It’s based on a story by Erich Philippiand is crisply written by William Hurlbut. At the von Helldorf castle, Irene (Gloria Stuart), the daughter of Robert von Helldorf (Lionel Atwill), celebrates her 21st birthday at the European castle with her father and three suitors: Captain Walter Brink (Paul Lukas), Frank Faber (Onslow Stevens) and Thomas Brandt (William Janney). Irene’s father, at Tommy’s request, tells the story of why the castle’s guest room, called the Blue Room, has been locked for the last twenty years over three prior mysterious unsolved murders in the room that’s attributed to a ghost. Tommy wishes to show his courage to Irene, hoping that will be enough to be chosen, and offers to sleep in the Blue Room that night, and pressures his rivals to sleep there the next two nights. In the morning Tommy has vanished and is presumed dead. But Robert has his reasons for not calling the police. While looking around in the Blue Room, Irene is attacked by a stranger the next day and faints, but no one is there. Frank decides to sleep in the Blue Room the next evening and is shot dead while playing the piano. This time the police are called and the wily Police Commissioner (Edward Arnold) arrives and interrogates the staff-the butler (Onslow Stevens), the chauffeur (Russell Hopton), the cook (Elizabeth Patterson), the maid (Muriel Kirkland); house guests and family members. The Commissioner sets a trap as Walter sleeps in the killing room on the third evening. The murderer is captured, but no explanation is given for the earlier murders.

The excellent ensemble cast make this one more than just watchable. It was remade as the Missing Guest (1938) and Murder in the Blue Room (1944).