Lilyan Tashman is an absolute blast to watch as a woman with a heart of lead as she manipulates her way to the gold. The movie is based on the first book in the Lt.Valcour series by Rufus King which was published in 1929.
Julia Endicott is deathly afraid of being buried alive. She has a horn attached to her waiting casket just in case. She doesn’t want it sealed when her time comes so she can be rescued or at the very least get herself out of it.
When she gets back home the new maid tells her her nephew called. Julia can’t stand him because he’s a drunk. She really hates his wife Laura. In a cab on the way to the house, nephew Herbert tells his wife Laura (Lilyan Tashman) he doesn’t feel right about going to get money from his Aunt Julia. She tells him to have a drink and get in there. She continues on to her boyfriend’s house. He’s Herbert’s pal Tom Hollander, a sculptor.
Julia has her attorney over as she makes out her will. She’s deciding who to leave everything to. She has a choice of Herbert or her strong but mentally defective son Philip. He says he likes to kill and enjoys knives. Then he says maybe he’d just use his hands. The housekeeper Miss Roberts has always looked out for him.
Julia decides the big bucks go to Herbert. He and Laura have to live in the house. Laura talks Herbert into murdering his aunt. The police chief arrests Philip after he shows his strength by breaking an andiron in half. Lt.Valcour (William “Stage” Boyd) has his doubts since Julia’s neck wasn’t broken. That gets him demoted to Sergeant.
Julia goes to visit Philip in his cell. She flirts with him and says she’ll be his if he breaks out and takes care of Herbert. That night he escapes. Laura tries to work her charm on Valcour and gets nowhere. He tells her she’s either a genius or a killer.
Later while the two talk outside the house they hear a scream. Valcour finds Herbert’s body. He’s been strangled. The medical examiner shows up. Looks like there’s some life left in Herbert after all. Meanwhile Tom confesses to Laura that he killed Herbert because she told him to.
Lots more to come in this movie. Regis Toomey, complete with a fake Irish accent, plays a beat cop who patrols outside the Endicott house. He likes reading lurid mystery magazines to find bizarre solutions to murders. The new maid is his girlfriend. As I mentioned before, the big reason to see this is Lilyan Tashman. In many scenes she overdoes it but she still has to be seen.
William Boyd had to use the middle name “Stage” so as not to confuse him with the William Boyd that became world famous years later as Hopalong Cassidy.