Fog Island, 1945. 5/10

Leo Grainger (George Zucco) has a cozy Old Dark house with Gail (Sharon Douglas), Leo’s step-daughter. “Their greed will outweigh their fear” Leo says of those who sent them to prison, and might also have killed his wife. They think there’s a bunch of loot buried/hidden somewhere on the island.

The guest list includes Emiline (Jacqueline DeWitt), a very spooky fortune teller. Then there’s Leo’s ex-secretary Slyvia (Veda Ann Borg), former partners Alec Ritchfield (Lionel Atwill), John Kavanaugh (Jerome Cowan), and Jeff Kingsley (John Whitney) who claims to have been at college with Gail. The butler Allerton (George Lloyd) keeps things rolling for a bit, and ‘Doc’ Lake (Ian Keith) is on hand, an accomplice of sorts. Apparently, he’s not really a doctor at all. Leo wastes no time by telling them they’ve been called there so that his wife’s murderer will reveal him/herself.

Everyone gets a little gift/party favor. We can see that Jeff is keen on Gail; she’s reticent. Jeff explores a secret passageway. Emiline works up a seance. Sylvia freaks out as the table rises mysteriously. Gail goes down to see Jeff “why don’t you break down and be yourself?” as he thinks she’s in some trouble. The ‘doctor’ reveals that Atherton is an ex-con; they scuffle, Atherton tumbles outside, then off a cliff into the sea.

Looks like the doctor is a con too. The three women talk: Slyvia and Emiline argue about which one knows more about Gail’s mother’s death. Alec and Leo talk. Alec inadvertently confesses to killing her, but Leo collapses. Jeff follows Alec who’s dragging Leo’s body into the passageway. He opens a trap door, and drops Leo in next to a skeleton. Emerging back into the house, Alec sneaks up on Emiline. She’s found the key that goes to the vault with the treasure.

Alec whacks her from behind so that he can recover the entire fortune. Jeff and the Doc fight; Gail finds Jeff unconscious–he soon comes around. Alec gets into the vault, but this is the room that we earlier saw Leo monkeying with. Pretty soon Alec is joined by John, the Doc, and Sylvia. All they find is a note, telling them that there was no theft in the first place, so there’s no loot. Thanks to the room being rigged-up, they’re all trapped inside. The room starts filling with water…

Up above, Gail and Jeff find another hidden spot. Cool, there’s a stash of her mom’s jewelry. “You think I came over here with those cheap chiselers to grab a junk of loot” he tells her, but now they’re ‘square’. The boat comes back and the by now happy couple leaves.

Very gripping atmosphere, the mansion could work for Dracula. The end-of-the-line for those “chislers” is straight horror. It’s odd that Gail just takes Jeff’s word that everyone else is dead, and doesn’t really seem to give a hoot. Like she got a better job or something.

The music doesn’t really fit the film; it keeps building up to little action climaxes, like those of a western, that rarely eventuate. The acting is bland enough that I had to keep checking who was who (at least the women each look distinctive). The main problem with Fog Island, though, is that the protagonist (Leo) dies about halfway through. Laying booby traps can work, but only if the victims play along. Everything that happens after Leo’s death isn’t at all a mystery, it’s pure chance.

Farmermouse likes the mansion’s secret passageways and suits of armor, and gives five this five little party favors. 5/10

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