I saw this one at the local Thursday night Horror show and enjoyed every minute of it. This little gem from Universal Pictures has a great cast including the infamous Lionel Atwill [Son of Frankenstein, Mystery of the Wax Museum, etc.] as Dr. Fish who has number two billing but very little screen time. Front and center in this film are Patric Knowles [The Wolf Man] as Detective Church, Anne Gwynne [House of Frankenstein] as Mrs. Church and Mantan Moreland [King of the Zombies] as Church's faithful manservant Horatio.
Knowles is perfect as the detective who somewhat reluctantly investigates the case of Doctor Rx who pins a note to all his victims, signed with a printed Rx and the number in which they met their demise. Gwynne is delightful as his wife and brings quite a bit of comic relief to the film. [She is also a total fashionista, complete with hats and perfect hair 24/7. You gotta love 1940's women.]
Hands down, however, it's Moreland who steals the show. Scandalously he is not listed in the opening credits even though he is in almost every scene. Such is the fate of black actors in the 1940's but this doesn't stop Moreland from showing off his quick wit and comedic timing. If you are unfamiliar with Moreland's career, it's worth a Google search to learn more about this actor who opened doors for many other black actors who followed in his footsteps.
Director William Nigh [The Ape] keeps the action moving along at a nice pace. The only caution I have about this film is that it is really a nice crime drama with a few horror elements thrown in toward the end of the film. So, if you need lots of blood and guts to keep you interested but might not enjoy this film. However, as a thriller, it's a solid effort that is well worth your time.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.