Enjoyable Hammer mystery that features an old country mansion complete with soughing wind, a creepy butler who likes to take his dead dog for walks, a tyrannical stepfather, a full of himself master detective and his secretary who tries her hand at investigating.
Dr.Morelle (Valentine Dyall) dictates the story of his latest case to his secretary Miss Frayle. (Julia Lang). Cynthia Mason is about to turn twenty-one. Under the terms of her mother’s will she’ll inherit everything if she gets married. She plans to do just that with local writer Peter Lorrimer. Her wheelchair bound stepfather Samuel Kimber won’t have it.
She runs to Peter’s cottage and tells him she’ll give up the estate to marry him. She brought her mother’s will with her so her stepfather can’t get it. Peter says he’ll talk to him. While he’s doing that he tells Cynthia to sneak out of the house and he’ll meet her in his car.
Kimber uses his ring to hypnotize Peter. Meanwhile Cynthia sneaks out the front door. She’s never seen again. Miss Frayle is a friend of hers and decides to bypass her boss and investigate. She goes to the house and says she’s the new maid. The slow moving butler Bensall (Hugh Griffith) sees through that in a hurry. He doesn’t tell Kimber.
That night Miss Frayle goes to Cynthia’s room and runs into Bensall. Later the two go to Kimber’s room and she discovers ash on his shoes in the closet. She and Bensall go to the outside incinerator. She finds an earring. When she goes to show it to him….he’s dead. She used her handkerchief to try and staunch his wound but no luck.
It’s a dark and stormy night but contrary to movies of this type the phone service still works. She called Dr.Morelle for help. He tells her to write out a report. She says she’ll give it to a bus driver to take to the train station and he’ll get it in the morning.
When he arrives at the house he tells her to cause some kind of domestic crisis while he’s been with Kimber for a bit. He poses as a member of a historical society wanting more information on the house. Kimber tries to hypnotize him. Before that happens Miss Frayle runs in and gets Kimber out of there and Morelle searches the office.
His next stop is Peter’s cottage. He uses light reflecting off a knife to try and hypnotize him. It doesn’t work. Back at the house Morelle tells Miss Frayle to lock herself in her room. But does she listen? Of course not.
The ending is obvious but the movie is still fun and worth checking out.
Valentine Dyall was one of Britain’s most famous radio voices, especially for “The Man In Black” series.