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MOVIE: Mystery Street (1950)

Story by Leonard Spigelgass

Screenplay by Sydney Boehm and Richard Brooks

Directed by John Sturges

Ricardo Montalban, Elsa Lanchester, Bruce Bennett, Jan Sterling, Sally Forrest, Marshall Thompson

Mystery Street

The skeleton of a young woman is found submerged underwater, trapped in a car. The viewer knows the woman is Vivian Heldon (Sterling).

We have already been introduced to her. We’ve seen the rooming house she lived in and met the busy body landlady,  Ms. Smerrling (Lanchester). We have overheard Vivian’s assertive phone calls and paid a visit to where she worked. We are even witnesses on the night she is murdered.

Taking advantage of Henry Shanway (Thompson), a drunk man with a trusting nature, Vivian offers to move his car, but takes him on a ride from Boston toward Cape Cod. When Shanway protests, she tricks him and takes off with his car, leaving him to walk.

Detective Peter Moralas (Montalban in what is the first movie I have ever seen in him– not Fantasy Island!) traces Vivian’s tracks. Harvard University forensic expert Dr. McAdoo (Bennett) helps Moralas through his scientific discoveries. Very early CSI. Very cutting edge for its time.

Complications arise for Shanway, when police learn the car with Vivian’s body belongs to him. His wife Grace (Forrest) suspects all sorts of things. Mrs Smerrling can’t resist an attempt at blackmail.

Filmed on location in Boston and surrounding areas.