One of my favorite types of mysteries involves a group of people who gather together for one reason or another and end up trying to solve a murder mystery. The classic example is the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, but this premise is quite a popular one in the mystery genre. Recently I have been checking out lesser-known old movies on YouTube that feature such a theme. I decided that for the month of October I would link to one of these films every week.
My first installment is "The Black Raven" (1943), directed by Sam Newfield and released by PRC. Newfield was one of the most prolific B-movie directors in American film history, credited with directing over 250 feature films. Many of Newfield's films were produced by PRC, which was headed by his brother Sigmund Neufeld and was known for its prodigious output of low-budget movies. While PRC was more interested in quantity rather than quality film production, some of the films are fairly decent.
"The Black Raven" has a good story line and does an excellent job setting a suspenseful atmosphere. Some of the actors are actually very good, especially George Zucco as the eponymous character who runs an inn as a front to illegal activities. A variety of guests arrive one stormy night when all roads are closed, and naturally some of them are of dubious repute. One guest is murdered and a large sum of money goes missing, and the remaining occupants at the inn must try to solve both crimes before more mayhem ensues.
Interesting Facts: George Zucco was a prolific B-movie actor who appeared in 96 films over two decades. He was often cast as a suave villain, and perhaps his best-known role was that of Professor Moriarty in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (1939) with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
Gore Guide: (0=none to 5=extreme): 0