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SHADOWS ON THE STAIRS(aka: MURDER ON THE 2ND FLOOR) (director/writer: D. Ross Lederman; screenwriters: Anthony Coldeway/play by Frank Vosper; cinematographer: Allen Siegler; editor: Thomas Pratt; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: Paul Cavanagh (Joseph Reynolds), Frieda Inescourt (Stella Armitage), Miles Mander (Tom Armitage), Heather Angel (Sylvia Armitage), Lumsden Hare (Inspector Gregg), Phyllis Barry (Lucy, maid), Bruce Lester (Hugh Bromilow/Dwight Winston), Mary Field (Miss Snell), Turhan Bey (Ram Singh), Charles Irwin (Constable), Paul Renay (Hindu Sailor); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bryan Foy; Warner Bros.; 1941-UK)
“Comes with a twist ending.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Enjoyable low-budget crime drama that’s based on the play Murder on the 2nd Floor by Frank Vosper and is written by Anthony Coldeway. It comes with a twist ending. D. Ross Lederman(“Tarzan’s Revenge”/”Strange Alibi”/”Texas Cyclone”) directs in a workman-like way.

In 1937, in London, successful playwright Dwight Winston is suffering from writer’s block and uses the alias of aspiring playwright Hugh Bromilow (Bruse Lester) to become a lodger in a boarding house run by a former actress Stella Armitage (Frieda Inescourt) and her chess-playing distracted former actor hubby Tom (Miles Mander). Sylvia (Heather Angel) is the pretty Armitage daughter, who is courted by Hugh. Other guests include a turban wearing exchange student from India named Ram Singh (Turhan Bey); shady broker Joe Reynolds (Paul Cavanagh), the boardinghouse secret owner and lover of Stella for the last ten years; the lonely book reader of romantic tales Miss Snell (Mary Field); and the lone servant Lucy (Phyllis Barry), who is also Joe’s lover.

The story opens at the dock, when Joe and Ram Singh conspire to smuggle off a boat a box and make plans to bring the box secretly to the boardinghouse the following evening. The mysterious deal goes sour and the next morning Joe is found stabbed to death many times. Inspector Gregg (Lumsden Hare) thinks he figured things out when Lucy is dead and leaves a suicide note confessing killing her unfaithful lover, but Hugh arrogantly investigates and seems to know more about what to look for than the copper.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”