Bob Beachman (Robert Beatty) is a reporter for “The Daily Record”. Mary Game (Rona Anderson) is a cub reporter for “The Echo”. They meet in the audience of the popular game show “Twenty Questions”. In the show a panel of four experts, Jack Train, Jeanne De Casalis, Richard Dimbleby, and Daphne Padel try to guess a written word by asking questions. The host of the show is Stewart MacPherson and the audience answer giver is Norman Hackforth.
The object of the game is that an audience member or someone writing into the program writes on a piece of paper the name of an object. The panel asks questions about the object trying to identify what it is. If the panel guesses the object by asking less than twenty questions they win. If they use up their twenty questions and haven’t figured out the name of the object, the writer wins five pounds.
One of the objects named is the fictional Rudyard Kipling character RikiTikiTavi. As the program proceeds a butcher is being murdered. The butcher’s name is Fredrick Tavey. His friends call him Ricky Tavey. Bob makes the connection between the 20 Questions clue and the murder of Tavey, but nobody believes him. Another note is submitted to the 20 Questions team for the next episode of the program. This time the answer is Hanging Judge. Later a noted judge is found garroted.
Eventfully Bob and Mary convince the 20 Questions people and the police that there is a serial killer out to avenge an assumed wrong. But finding out who is responsible is going to take some investigating and Mary ends up on the killers list of victims.
“The 20 Questions Murder Mystery” was released in 1950 and was directed by Paul L. Stein. It is a British crime mystery and a quota quickie.
The movie is quite dated but still quite charming. In some respects, like a lot of mysteries from the fifties, it’s a romcom with a mystery. The plot is a little standard, but it is nicely written. It ended up being an interesting premise and a nice little film.
“Twenty Questions” was an actual radio program that aired in various countries. In Britain it aired on BBC Radio 1947 to 1976. The panelists in the movie were actual movie and television personalities, many of them were actual panelists in the real radio program.