Best Crime Movies of 1940
After a woman shoots a man to death, a damning letter she wrote raises suspicions.
Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum
A wax museum run by a demented doctor contains statues of such crime figures as Jack the Ripper and Bluebeard. In addition to making wax statues the doctor performs plastic surgery. It is here that an arch fiend takes refuge. The museum also houses a statue of Charlie. Frustrated number-two son kicks statue in rear; oops, number-two son wrong in his assumption
They Drive by Night
Joe and Paul Fabrini are Wildcat, or independent, truck drivers who have their own small one-truck business. The Fabrini boys constantly battle distributors, rivals and loan collectors, while trying to make a success of their transport company.
Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise
On a cruise ship from Honolulu to San Francisco, the famous Chinese detective encounters four more murders while trying to figure out the murder of a Scotland Yard friend.
Charlie Chan in Panama
Charlie impersonates an employee of the U.S. government to foil an espionage plot which would destroy part of the Panama Canal, trapping a Navy fleet on its way to the Pacific after maneuvers in the Atlantic.
City for Conquest
The heartbreaking but hopeful tale of Danny Kenny and Peggy Nash, two sweethearts who meet and struggle through their impoverished lives in New York City. When Peggy, hoping for something better in life for both of them, breaks off her engagement to Danny, he sets out to be a championship boxer, while she becomes a dancer paired with a sleazy partner. Will tragedy reunite the former lovers?
When retired racket boss John Sarto tries to reclaim his place and former friends try to kill him, he finds solace in a monastery and reinvents himself as a pious monk.
Murder Over New York
When Charlie's old friend from Scotland Yard is murdered when they attend a police convention in New York, Chan picks up the case he was working on.
Stranger on the Third Floor
Newspaper reporter Michael Ward plunges into a nightmare of guilt, fearing that his "evidence" has sentenced the wrong man to death.
It All Came True
After crooked nightclub owner Chips Maguire murders a police informant, he blackmails his piano player to allow him to stay at his eccentric mother's boarding house.
University professor George Kingsley is struck by gangsters while crossing the street, leaving him with brain damage and one of the gangsters, Cannon, paralyzed. Kingsley's friend Dr. Sovac attends to both men, and when Cannon offers him a reward for aiding his recovery, Kovac transplants part of Cannon's brain into the dying Kingsley's skull, creating a dual personality.
Angels Over Broadway
Small-time businessman Charles Engle is threatened with exposure for embezzling $3,000 for his free-spending wife. Deciding on suicide, he scribbles a note, stuffs it in his pocket and goes for one last night on the town. He is pulled into a poker game by conman Bill O'Brien and singer Nina Barone, but when they discover the dropped note, they resolve to turn the tables, get Engle his $3,000 and save his life.
Before I Hang
A physician on death row for a mercy killing is allowed to experiment on a serum using a criminals' blood, but secretly tests it on himself. He gets a pardon, but finds out he's become a Jekyll-&-Hyde.
Doomed to Die
Shipping magnate Cyrus Wentworth, downcast over a disaster to his ocean liner 'Wentworth Castle' (carrying, oddly enough, an illicit shipment of Chinese bonds) is shot in his office at the very moment of kicking out his daughter's fiance Dick Fleming. Of course, Captain Street arrests Dick, but reporter Bobbie Logan, the attractive thorn in Street's side, is so convinced he's wrong that she enlists the help of detective James Lee Wong to find the real killer.
The Shadow battles a villain known as The Black Tiger, who has the power to make himself invisible and is trying to take over the world with his death ray.
Castle on the Hudson
A hardened crook behind bars comes up against a reform-minded warden.
The Devil Bat
Dr. Carruthers feels bitter at being betrayed by his employers, Heath and Morton, when they became rich as a result of a product he devised. He gains revenge by electrically enlarging bats and sending them out to kill his employers' family members by instilling in the bats a hatred for a particular perfume he has discovered, which he gets his victims to apply before going outdoors. Johnny Layton, a reporter, finally figures out Carruthers is the killer and, after putting the perfume on himself, douses it on Carruthers in the hopes it will get him to give himself away. One of the two is attacked as the giant bat makes one of its screaming, swooping power dives.
You're Not So Tough
The Dead End Kids are out of the slums of New York's East Side and running around the sunny valleys of California looking for a way to make a quick buck. The idea of working never enters their minds until Halop is egged on by Grey to show his capabilities. Before long, he and Hall are working on the ranch of Galli, an elderly Italian woman who treats her workers like human beings instead of animals. Galli's son disappeared as an infant, and Halop tries to convince her that he is that long lost son, thus possibly sharing in her wealth. Galli is such a good person that Halop is soon motivated by respect instead of greed, so he devises a plan to help her when truckers and a labor organization band together to keep her crops from making it to market.
Women Without Names
Joyce and Fred MacNeil's honeymoon comes to an abrupt and unsatisfying halt when Fred is accused of murder. Railroaded into prison through the efforts of politically ambitious assistant DA Marlin (John Miljan), Fred awaits his doom on Death Row, while Joyce works overtime on the outside to clear her husband's name
Girl in the News
An elderly lady manages to sneak some pills away from her nurse and dies of an overdose. The nurse is tried for murder and acquitted. Some time later the nurse, under a new name and identity, cares for a patient who also dies of an overdose. When her real identity comes out, suspicions arouses.
The Lone Wolf Strikes
Delia Jordan's father is murdered and some very valuable jewelry stolen. She hires The Lone Wolf.
San Francisco Docks
Longshoreman Johnny Barnes is in love with Kitty Tracy, barmaid at her father's waterfront saloon, and he beats up Cassidy, a crooked politician who has been annoying her. Cassidy is murdered that night and Johnny is jailed for the crime. Kitty, her father Andy Tracy, and waterfront-priest Father Cameron believe Johnny is innocent but all evidence points to his guilt.
The Green Archer
Columbia's 12th serial of 57 total (following 1940's "Deadwood Dick" and ahead of 1941's "White Eagle") is another of director's James Horne's "classics" where he evidently figured that the same reactions that served him well in Laurel and Hardy films would work well in action serials where he has all hands, heroes and villains alike, doing some kind of over-the top "take", no matter the situation. This loose adaptation of an Edgar Wallace story finds Michael Bellamy (Kenne Duncan in his Kenneth Duncan period) inheriting Garr Castle, but his brother, Abel Bellamy (James Craven, as usual making Oil-Can Harry look smooth), has him imprisoned unjustly and moves into the castle himself. When Michael's wife, Elaine Bellamy (Dorothy Fay), fails to return after visiting Abel, her sister Valerie Howett (Iris Meredith), accompanied by their father,
East of the River
Two troublesome boys grow into very different men, one becoming a hoodlum and the other embracing college but both are in-love with the same girl.
I Was an Adventuress
Posing as the fabulously glamorous Countess Tanya Vronsky, a poor young ballet dancer and her two accomplices are really a team of skilled con artists! They mingle with Europe's high society, always looking for the next wealthy victim to fleece with their fake jewellery scam... Then Tanya meets the dashing young Paul Vernay. At first she wants to rob him. Then she decides she wants to marry him and to leave her criminal past behind her. Her accomplices agree but only if she'll join them in one last, big swindle...
The Saint Takes Over
The Saint Takes Over, released in 1940 by RKO Pictures, was the fifth motion picture featuring the adventures of Simon Templar, a.k.a. "The Saint" the Robin Hood-inspired crimefighter created by Leslie Charteris. George Sanders returned as Templar, with Wendy Barrie playing his latest romantic conquest in her second of three appearances in the Saint film series (playing a different role each time). This film focuses on the character of Inspector Henry Farnack (Jonathan Hale), who appeared in several of the Saint series. When Farnack is framed by a gang he is investigating, it is up to The Saint to clear his name.
The Case of the Frightened Lady
A classic British thriller set in a sinister old house, based on a story by Edgar Wallace.
The Mad Doctor
A reporter sleuths the mystery behind an oft-married Viennese doctor whose wives met mysterious fates.
Money and the Woman
An embezzler's wife begs his boss for forgiveness, only to fall in love with him.
The Green Hornet
A newspaper publisher and his Korean servant fight crime as vigilantes who pose as a notorious masked gangster and his aide.
City of Chance
Texas girl goes to New York, becomes a newspaper reporter, and tries to get her gambler boyfriend to come home.
In this second Carter mystery, a mysterious rash of cargo ships sinking in Panama leads insurers Llewellyns of London to hire vacationer Nick Carter and his eccentric associate Bartholomew to investigate. Nick recognizes influential nightclub owner Al Taurez as a shady operator, but getting the goods on him depends on slick diversions involving the heavyweight champ of the Pacific Tuna Fleet, a Panamanian bombshell armed with American slang, a young couple in love and a whole raft of crooks and cutthroats.
Ellery Queen, Master Detective
The mysteriously ill John Braun makes a new will, leaving out his daughter Barbara, over the protests of his wife. The trouble began when the daughter wanted to marry Mr. Braun's doctor, James Rogers. Mrs. Braun asks Inspector Queen to help find the long-missing Barbara. The inspector's son, Ellery, works on the case. He goes to a home frequently visited by Dr. Rogers where the bell is answered by Nikki Porter who Ellery mistakes for Barbara and insists she return to the Braun home. Nikki does, to protect Barbara, and a short time later finds herself alone in a room outside Braun's bedroom. She finds him dead - his throat cut. No weapons are found and the door to the room where Nikki had been is locked, and she is suspected. Ellery hides Nikki in his apartment. Braun's body, sent for an autopsy, disappears and in its place is a life-sized statue of the dead man.
Give Us Wings
Dead End Kids epic. The boys want desperately to fly, and get mixed up with crooked crop dusters, whose planes are flying deathtraps.
The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date
Complicated plot involving missing stamp collection and kidnapped businessman, with the Lone Wolf keeping one step ahead of the police in Havana trying to solve the crime and make a profit.
Mrs Pym of Scotland Yard
An eccentric woman detective investigates the murders of several people who visited the same medium.
Girls Under 21
Francis Ryan, living high-and-free-wheeling life as the wife of gangster "Smiley" Ryan, spends some time behind bars as a result of her husband's activities, and, when she gets out, realizes she has been a bad example for her kid-sister, Jennie White, and five of her friends. With the aid of her old boyfriend, she manages to divert them from their juvenile-delinquent path leading to disaster for each.
A gang of urban street kids and a club of suburban would-be federal agents, at first rivals, join forces to rescue the father of one of the kids, the inventor of a super-explosive and its remote detonator, from the clutches of a band of foreign subversives call the "Flaming Torch Gang". A 12-episode movie serial with the chapters: •1. Enemies Within •2. The Blast of Doom •3. Human Dynamite •4. Blazing Danger •5. Trapped By Traitors •6. Traitors' Treachery •7. Flaming Death •8. Hurled Through Space •9. The Plunge of Peril •10.The Toll of Treason •11.Descending Doom •12.The Power of Patriotism
The Flying Squad
Inspector Bradley of Scotland Yard is on the trail of the murderous ringleader of a smuggling organization in London.
A disillusioned factory worker is charged with the attempted murder of her mother's lover.
Adventure in Diamonds
A government pilot (George Brent) falls for a woman (Isa Miranda) helping her partner (John Loder) smuggle diamonds out of South Africa.
Phantom of Chinatown
In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton,the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on.
A dancehall girl meets a sailor and they fall in love, but the club’s owner doesn’t want the girl to leave.
The Saint's Double Trouble
Reformed jewel thief Simon Templar lands in hot water when a look-alike smuggles stolen goods out of Egypt.
Crimes at the Dark House
A madman kills a man who has just inherited a large estate, then impersonates his victim to gain entrance to the estate so he can murder his enemies.
So You Won't Talk?
A shy book reviewer is confused with a notorious gangster who has just been release from prison.
Girl in 313
A priceless necklace goes missing at a plush party. Police close in on the jewel thieves but is one cop getting too close to one of the crooks?
Mysterious Doctor Satan
A mad scientist named Dr. Satan plots to steal key pieces of technology to enable him to build an army of robots based on his prototype to conquer America. The only one standing in his way is Bob Wayne, who fights Satan as the enigmatic Copperhead. Mysterious Doctor Satan is a 1940 film serial named after its chief villain. Doctor Satan's main opponent is the masked mystery man, "The Copperhead", whose secret identity is Bob Wayne, a man searching for justice and revenge on Satan for the death of his step-father. The serial charts the conflict between the two as Bob Wayne pursues Doctor Satan, while the latter completes his plans for world domination.
You, the People
This MGM Crime Does Not Pay series short features a big city crime boss's attempt to use his crime "machine" to fraudulently win reelection for the current corrupt mayor. By using several illegal tactics, and aided by voter apathy, the crime boss nearly continues his control of the city.
Calling Philo Vance
Philo is in Vienna working for the US Government to see if Archer Coe is selling aircraft designs to foreign powers. He grabs the plans with Archer's signature, but is captured by police before he can escape. Deported he comes back to America and plans to confront Archer, but Archer is found dead in his locked bedroom with a gun in his hand. While it looks like a suicide, Vance knows better and the coroner finds that Archer has been shot, hit with a blunt instrument and stabbed - making suicide unlikely. But Vance is on the case and is looking to see if government secrets have been sold and who has murdered Coe. This is a remake of "The Kennel Murder Case" using aircraft designs and espionage instead of Chinese porcelain and dog shows.