Secret of the Blue Room (1933)

     On July 20, 1933, Universal Pictures released Secret of the Blue Room (1933).  Produced by Carl Laemmle, the film is set in a castle, where 20 years earlier three people were mysteriously murdered.  Secret of the Blue Room opens with three suitors present for the twenty-first birthday of Irene von Helldorf, played by Gloria Stuart.  The inimitable Lionel Atwill plays Irene’s father Robert.

lionel-atwill

Photo of Lionel Atwill from the Firebird Trailer

     At Irene and the guests’ insistence, Robert reluctantly explains the mystery, which occurred in the “blue room” twenty years ago.  Robert has kept the room locked since the mysterious incidents occurred.

     Robert explains the blue room was the guest room.  Getting ready to retire for the evening, Robert heard a scream, ran into the room and found it empty.  His sister was found dead in the moat.  A few months later, his best friend was found dead from a single gunshot.  A gun was never found.  Robert said both murders happened at 1 am.

     A few months later, a detective insisted on staying in the room.  The butler found the detective dead the next morning apparently from a great fright.  Robert locked the room up for good that day.  Only the butler had a key.

     After Robert von Helldorf tells the story, one of the suitor challenges the other two men to spend a night in the blue room to prove their courage.  The men all agree to spend one night in the room no matter what happens to the other suitors.

     The men’s decision to stay in the room sets the conflict for the plot.  While I found the film a bit slow, the less than obvious climax helps save the film.

     The Cat and the Canary (1927) and Old Dark House (1932) are better “old dark house” films.  Unless you are a Lionel Atwill fan, you are better off watching those films.

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