here, though the third movie seems to have vanished from their inventory) but I thought their TCM showing might yield better copies (they did) because whenever they’re shown on getTV you have to edit out the commercials (and does it look like I’m not lazy?). Getting these movies was not an easy task; from time to time, DISH experiences problems displaying Tee Cee Em’s lineup in their onscreen guide and if you’re not careful what you painstakingly programmed to DVR never comes to fruition, resulting in my frustration and naughty swear words. (They did this to me the other night with The First Auto . Swine satellite system…)
I Love a Mystery Companion, the show’s creator, Carlton E. Morse, received two fees when Columbia purchased the rights to his show for a movie series. (Martin says that they were going to make three movies in total; an item in Variety at the time observes that two I Love a Mystery films were to be produced each year for five years. I wish Variety had been right.) The first fee was for the rights to ILAM; the second went towards a series of five-page synopses submitted by Morse that would be used as the basis for the subsequent films in the franchise. Only one of the movies—the first, I Love a Mystery (1945)—was adapted from a serial broadcast on the program, “The Decapitation of Jefferson Monk” (presented in 25 episodes from August 30-October 1, 1943…and later revived for the 1949-52 Mutual version from March 10-April 11, 1952). The other two movies, The Devil’s Mask (1946) and The Unknown (1946), were originals though they did borrow an element or two from past Morse productions (notably Unknown and “The Thing That Wouldn’t Die”).
|George Macready, Nina Foch|
I Love a Mystery is a splendid little B-movie suspenser, and even though there are those who have a beef with the brief film franchise because it never managed to completely capture the fantastical elements of the blood-and-thunder radio program I think it’s most satisfying. I don’t even mind that it wraps with one of those “Scooby Doo” endings because even when you think “it was all a simple misunderstanding” they provide a nice twist at the end. Macready is first-rate as the bewildered victim who’s just marking time before he becomes a headless dude and Nina Foch (the two of them would square off later in My Name is Julia Ross, a favorite B-pic here in the House of Yesteryear and released later that same year) delightfully dangerous as the invalid who’s not nearly as helpless as she seems. Jim Bannon does a fine job in the role played on radio by Michael Raffetto, and Barton Yarborough reprises his radio gig as Doc (he doesn’t quite match the way I’ve always pictured Long but I’m such a huge fan of Bart’s it don’t make no never mind).
Mask is a decent little B, but it’s my least favorite in the ILAM series due to the obvious identity of the murderer and the presence of the bland Michael Duane—one of those James Craig-types that always makes me scratch my head in bewilderment that he even had a movie career. (Granted, he doesn’t bump into any furniture but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what Louise’s Janet sees in him; Duane is also in two of the movies in the Whistler franchise, Secret of the Whistler  and The Return of the Whistler , that series’ swan song.) Also of interest: I’d swear the same dog guards the houses of the protagonists in both Mystery and Mask.
|The Unknown (1946)|
|Mark Roberts, Jeff Donnell, Jim Bannon & Barton Yarborough|