Best Mystery Movies of 1940
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.
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.
This final Carter film is a lot of fun, with Nick (unwillingly, at first) taking on a ring of Fifth Columnists (since this was filmed before the US entered the war, we're not told the villains are Nazis, but it's pretty clear anyway). Of course, the helpful and persistent Bartholomew is at his side--much to Nick's irritation. To further complicate things--and to make them still funnier--Joyce Compton is along for the ride too, as a delightfully brainless "detective" named Christine Cross.
A delivery boy for a flower shop, who thinks of himself as an amateur detective, finds out that his boss is mixed up with a foreign espionage ring.
Half a Sinner
Although young and beautiful, schoolteacher Anne Gladden fears a dull future. She finally decides to take a walk on the wild side, splurging on some fashionable new clothes and setting off to find adventure. Her new confidence inspires her to flirt with complete strangers. When a gangster pays unwanted attention to her, she ditches him and flees in his car, unaware that there's a corpse in the trunk. Determined to recover his stolen vehicle and its incriminating cargo the thug begins a desperate search. The oblivious Anne, comes to the aid of a handsome young man stranded alongside the road. Romance blooms, but after the shocking discovery of a body in the trunk, the duo decide they have to return the car. The bickering lovebirds head back to the city, trailed by both the angry gangster and the cops, who suspect the young couple of murder.
A man is framed for being a spy. After he is released, he sets out to find who the real spies are.
A murdered man (Baxter) helps his widow (Leeds) bring his killer to justice.
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.
Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Naunton Wayne) are touring the Middle East. After visiting Saudi Arabia they find themselves in Bagdad where they are mistaken by a group of German spies for the messengers who are to carry a song record by beautiful singer La Palermo (Greta Gynt) which contains secret instructions of the German Intelligence. Realizing their error, the German spies follow Charters and Caldicott to Istanbul and Budapest, trying to eliminate them and retrieve the record.
The Saint's Double Trouble
Reformed jewel thief Simon Templar lands in hot water when a look-alike smuggles stolen goods out of Egypt.