Inner Sanctum (1948) is More Film Noir Than Mystery

Inner Sanctum (1948)
Cast:        Charles Russell as Harold Dunlap
                Mary Beth Hughes as Jean Maxwell
                Billy House as McFee
                Dale Belding as Mike Bennett
                Fritz Lieber as Dr. Valonius

Written by Jerome Todd Gollard
Directed by Lew Landers

Plot: Harold Dunlap has murdered his wife and thinks he’s committed the perfect crime until he realizes that a young boy can place him at the scene of the crime. How long before the boy connects him to the murder? And how long before Dunlap decides the boy is a liability?

Richard’s Review: Inner Sanctum was released on October 15, 1948, just three years after the Universal Pictures films with Lon Chaney, Jr., based on the popular series of mystery novels. While those films were legitimate mysteries, this is definitely more of a poor man’s film noir as there is no mystery in regards to who committed the crime. This was the only movie ever released by M.R.S. Pictures and it’s no surprise as it’s ultimately a rather forgettable film. With a running time of just over an hour, the story is about 30 minutes too long. There’s enough material for a half-hour anthology series but even then, it lacks any real suspense. However, there is an interesting twist with the wraparound segment involving the mysterious Dr. Valonius. He plays a part in a cool twist at the end. Unfortunately, the rest of story plays out just as one would predict after watching the first ten minutes. It’s in the public domain, so it’s very easy to find but I recommend you watch it for free. It’s harmless and mildly entertaining, not bad enough to make you feel you were cheated out of an hour but there’s not enough substance to want to come back for a second helping.

Trivia:

  • Charles Russell only starred in 18 films before his on screen career ended in 1950. However, he transitioned to a new role behind the camera and was a successful producer on such television programs as The Untouchables, Naked City and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He was also the original Johnny Dollar on the popular radio program Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar in 1949 and 1950. He died in 1985 at the age of 66.  
  • Dale Bedding only had nine acting credits between 1947 and 1951. His debut was in a 1947 Hal Roach comedy called Curley. Roach no longer owned the rights to Our Gang aka Little Rascals, so he attempted to revive the concept with a new group of kids with actor Larry Olsen heading up the new gang as Curley. The series only lasted two films, with Who Killed Doc Robbin? (1948) being the second and last. Bedding played Curley’s friend Speck in both films. Bedding also starred in The Life of Riley (1949), based on the popular radio program, and as Danny in the first three Ma and Pa Kettle movies. He retired from acting in 1951 and died in 1997 in Las Vegas at the age of 62.
  • Billy House was a popular character actor with a short-lived career and memorable roles in The Stranger (1946) with Orson Welles and Bedlam (1946) with Boris Karloff.  He died in 1961 at the age of 72 of a heart attack.
  • Fritz Lieber is well-known to horror fans for his roles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Phantom of the Opera (1943) and Cry of the Werewolf (1944). Inner Sanctum was one of his last films before his death in 1949 at the age of 67 of a heart attack.
  • Lew Landers had a long and successful directing career between 1934 and 1963. He’s well-remembered among horror fans for The Raven (1935) with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942), starring Karloff and Peter Lorre, and The Return of the Vampire (1943) with Lugosi. He turned to television by the 50s but returned for one more horror film in 1963, Terrified. He died on December 16, 1962, at the age of 61, several months before the film’s release.
  • Jerome Todd Gollard has only two film writing credits, both in 1948, before his third and final credit in 1967 for an episode of The Fugitive.

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