Fifth entry in the Mike Shane series. No Mary Beth Hughes this time. The movie is based on “No Coffin For The Corpse” by Clayton Rawson. It’s part of his “The Great Merlini” series. No way this should have ever been a Mike Shayne movie. It’s clearly all Rawson’s material and should have been presented that way. Still it is a fun B movie if you can get past the mistake of using Brett Halliday’s detective.
It’s a dark and stormy night. Millionaire businessman Dudley Wolf, his secretary Alfred Dunning and his friend Dr.Haggard bury a body on the grounds of his mansion. Later his daughter Catherine (Marjorie Weaver) shows up. Everybody calls her Kay. She’s there to announce that she married a government official named Roger Blake. Wolf is not amused since he’s under a Senate investigation. He tells Dunning to call his lawyer. He thinks Blake is a gold digger. Kay talks him out of it. Her stepmother Anna doesn’t see anything wrong with the marriage.
That night when everyone is settled in when Kay sees a shadow on the wall. It’s a figure with a gun. He fires at Kay and then runs off. Kay screams and everyone runs in. No one can find the bullet and tell her it was just her imagination. It doesn’t help when she says the figure was a ghost. Wolf finds a clump of dirt on the floor and heads for the grave. Nobody home.
The next day Kay is out on the road and meets Mike Shayne (Lloyd Nolan). She called him and asked him to come out. She doesn’t want anyone to know he’s a detective and tells him to pose at her husband Roger. He agrees…for three hundred bucks.
Mike investigates the bedroom and finds the bullet. He notices the door is ajar and knows someone is listening in. It’s Alfred. Kay tells him there’s a Dr.Haggard staying there. He has a lab in the basement Wolf bought for him in hopes of finding something to prolong life.
Mike finds a box with a few bullets in it. They’re the same caliber as the one fired at Kay. He has a seat in a chair and things go haywire. Haggard comes down and switches off the current. Later Wolf says a former partner of his visited last night. He had some papers that could be bad news for Wolf. The man was angry at Wolf for cancelling the partnership and blamed him for the death of his wife and daughter.
The man comes back and shoots Haggard. Mike calls the cops and showing up is bumbling police chief Jonathan Meek and Coroner Tom Lawson (Jeff Corey). The man jumps in Meek’s car and speeds off. Mike and Meek chase after him. The car runs through a fence, plunges down an embankment and explodes.
Later Mike visits his friend the magician The Great Merlini. He tells him about Zorah Bey., He’s a magician that did a rare buried alive act. Mike thinks that’s who shot at Kay. Meanwhile at the coroner’s office the body of the crash victim disappears.
It’s another dark and stormy night as Mike puts it all together. Not a bad movie but it would have been a lot better if it hadn’t been part of the Shayne series. The Rawson series was excellent and this should have been filmed as part of that group of books.