Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Menace (1932) Film Review - Cinecon 44 Screening

Plot Summary - In which a man named Ronald Quayle (Walter Byron) gets plastic surgery on his face after being in an oil fire, his looks now completely altered - he's unrecognizable. Previously in prison in England for the murder of his own father, he escaped and made his way to America - so it doesn't hurt now that they've also grafted skin over his fingertips leaving him with no fingerprints. He proclaims himself innocent of the crime, and returns to England to attempt to find the real killer and clear his bad name, posing as a rich American named Robert Crockett who wants to buy the estate now owned by dad's youthful and greedy widow. Suspecting her (or one of her two male hanger-on cronies) of having something to do with the murder, he pretends to romance her in order to try and get the truth about his dad's death. He gives her a gem-studded necklace, then at a masked Halloween party one evening - he steals it while wearing a Satan mask, then plants it in one of her partner-in-crime's pockets and waits for the fireworks. And meanwhile - his former fiancee (Bette Davis) thinks her man Ronald died during his escape, and fails to recognize him now for who is really is - still, there is that unmistakable "something" about this guy that does spark her interest.

Review - This film is atmospheric, well-paced, and entertaining fun; quite good. I enjoyed seeing one of my favorites, Bette Davis, in this early role (her fifth film) - she looks so young, and very pretty. Okay, one question: you know, you would think that - at least the fiancee - would recognize our main man's voice immediately and realize it's a changed Ronald. The butler is sharper than the rest of them - and someone at this house liked to collect old mummy cases. Rating - 8/10 stars

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