The Lebanon family lives in a huge dark estate called “Mark’s Priory”. Lady Lebanon (Helen Haye) rules the manor. Her son is Lord ‘Willie’ Lebanon (Marius Goring), the last of the Lebanons. Also living at the estate is Isla Crane (Penelope Dudley-Ward). She is Lady Lebanon’s secretary. She is also a Lebanon and cousin to Willie. Isla hates living there but is stuck since Lady Lebanon is supporting her mother and two sisters.
Lady Lebanon wants her son to marry Isla to keep the Lebanon family name going. Although they are fond of each other neither Lord Lebanon nor Isla are in love with each other and do not want to marry. A young architect named Richard Ferraby (Patrick Barr) comes to the manor to do some renovations to the old estate. Richard and Isla are attracted to each other. This adds one more crimp in Lady Lebanon’s plans.
Adding to Isla’s dislike of the sinister house are two footmen who act more like guards than footmen. Gilder (Roy Emerton) and Brooks (George Hayes). Also on hand is a creepy doctor, Dr. Amersham (Felix Aylmer). The chauffer Studd (John Warwick) apparently knows how slimy the doctor is from his stint in India in the British Army.
It seems the doctor did some bad things in the service of the Queen. Studd is also having an affair with the gamekeeper’s wife so when he ends up dead there are a couple people that Detective Inspector Tanner (George Merritt) from Scotland Yard is very interested in. When the doctor gets killed Tanner ends up back at square one, plus two murders.
“The Case of the Frightened Lady” was released in 1940 and was directed by George King. The movie is a British mystery thriller. It is based on a play by Edgar Wallace. It’s sort of an Old Dark House mystery.
As with many of Edgar Wallace’s stories it has quite a bit going on. A few red herrings and lots of mystery. A little comic relief from Scotland Yard’s Sergeant Totty (Ronald Shiner). It is done well though with decent acting.
They did push the ‘frightened lady’ aspect a little too much with Isla screaming in the opening scene of the film. Even so, it is your basic British gothic style mystery movie. And the mystery remained throughout the film. The question of who-done-it had me watching to the end.
I wouldn’t look too deeply into it, just enough to enjoy the atmosphere of the spooky old house and its strange inhabitants.