“You sure he was dead when you found him?” “Well he didn’t say whether he was or not.”
The Black Raven Inn is near the US-Canada border. It is run by Mr. Amos Bradford, AKA “The Raven” (George Zucco). Bradford has a sinister past. On this stormy night several people seek shelter under its roof. For some it was the worst mistake they could have made.
The first to arrive is Whitey Cole (I. Stanford Jolley). He and Bradford were partners in the past. Cole blames Bradford for being sent to jail. Cole is there for revenge, but he gets bested when Bradford’s, not so brilliant, handyman Andy (Glenn Strange) comes in.
After that people start dribbling in as the storm outside rages on and the bridge to Canada washes out. The next to arrive is a gangster named Mike Bardoni (Noel Madison). He’s in a hurry to get across the boarder. His organization has been taken over by “Mr. Big” Tim Winfield (Robert Middlemass). After him is a bank clerk named Horace Weatherby (Bryon Foulger). He embezzled $50,000 from his bank. A young couple is next. Allen Bentley (Robert Livingston) and Lee Winfield (Wanda McKay). They are eloping. Lee’s father Tim Winfield, the aforementioned “Mr. Big” shows up to stop the elopement of his daughter to Bentley. Then the, not quite all there, sheriff shows up. He’s supposed to be the comic relief but I found Glenn Strange funnier.
“The Black Raven” was released in 1943 and was directed by Sam Newfield. The movie was distributed by PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation) and runs about 61 minutes. This is basically an “Old Dark House” movie at an Inn. George Zucco has fun with it, and so should we. It’s not a horror movie, just a good old fashion who-done-it. There is enough mystery that it kept me guessing. Granted it’s not totally cerebral, but I was absolutely fine with that. I don’t watch a movie to be confused. I watch a movie to be entertained. If I want to be confused I’ll watch “Eraserhead” again.
Each character has their own reasons for being there, and most of them are questionable. You don’t have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy it, but it doesn’t hurt. I thought it was cool, and it’s now on one of my top fave lists. This is what an “Old Dark House” mystery is. A bunch of people stuck together in one place. Different characters, but usually with similar agendas. There are several things that identify and Old Dark House mystery. This one has a lot of them.