movie, movie review

February 18th, 2017 Movie – The Face At The Window (1939)


Well, it is a beautiful Saturday morning (well as beautiful as it can be at 6:30 in the morning) and I get to start the day by watching another movie from the Legends Of Horror box set. Every time I watch one of the movies form this set, it puts me in a good mood and hopefully today will be no different. Now today’s movie is another one that stars Tod Slaughter. Seriously, with a name like Tod Slaughter, is there any doubt that this guy was in horror movies. Anyways, let’s get right into today’s movie, The Face At The Window.

The plot: In 1880 Paris, a series of gruesome murders has plagued the city. The appearance of a grotesque face in the windows of the victims has give rise to a story about a Wolf Man being responsible for the deaths. One night, Lucien Cortier, a bank clerk, is working late when he hears a howl and finds another clerk has been stabbed and the bank robbed. He informs the police, who believe it was an inside job and refuses to believe it was anyone else. M. de Brisson, the bank owner, is worried about recovering the gold, as the bank was facing hard times, and Lucien says he will solve the mystery. Brisson says that if this happens Lucien can name his reward and Lucien grows quite excited, as he hopes to use the reward to ask for the hand of Cecile, Brisson’s daughter, in marriage as the two are in love but forced to keep it a secret due to their difference in social class. As Cecile escorts Lucien out of Brisson’s office, they are met by Chevalier Lucio del Galdo, a wealthy man that wishes to do business with Brisson’s bank. Galdo speaks briefly with Lucien and Cecile about the murder before going to see Brisson. Lucien doesn’t trust Galdo and voices his concerns to Lucile before going to see his friend Prof. LeBlanc in the hopes of getting his help in solving the crime. Meanwhile, Galdo tells Brisson that he will do business with the bank and deposit a large sum of gold in the bank in exchange for Cecile’s hand in marriage. Brisson balks at the suggestion, worrying about the difference in age between the two, but when Galdo threatens to withdraw his offer of the gold deposit, Brisson relents, though says that Cecile’s would have the final say. Galdo leaves the room and Cecile enters to find out how the meeting went and Brisson asks that she go speak to Galdo. When she goes to see him, Galdo confesses his interest in her but she admits to being in love with Lucien and Galdo says he understands and withdraws his proposal but after Cecile leaves, he begins laughing maniacally. At LeBlanc’s lab, LeBlanc is showing Lucien his latest invention and says that he will help Lucien learn the identity of the Wolf. Meanwhile, Galdo goes to see Police Inspector Gouffert and after speaking about the robbery, he suggests Gouffert investigate Lucien for the robbery, doing his best to plant suspicion in the Inspector’s mind. Later, Galdo heads to an unsavory bar called the Blind Rat and meets with two men, handing them a package to place in Lucien’s private locker at the bank. The next day, Brisson receives an anonymous letter suggesting he search Lucien’s locker and when he asks Lucien to check his locker, Lucien is curious about the letter but agrees to search it. When a pouch containing mexican gold coins that were stolen is found in his locker, Brisson accuses Lucien of being the thief and plans to call the police but Lucien convinces him not to involve the police and let him prove his innocence. Brisson tells Lucien to leave and as he exits the building, he sees a carriage approaching with Galdo and Cecile inside. When Galdo enters the bank to finish his deal with Brisson, Lucien quickly writes a note to Cecile and throws it in the carriage and when she reads it, she quickly leaves the carriage. Inside the bank, Galdo is shocked to learn that Brisson has not contacted the police and suggest they do so after finishing their deal. When Galdo places his seal on the paper, Brisson recognizes it and checks it against a sheet of paper but Galdo quickly grabs the paper and burns it, then threatens Brisson not to contact the police as he has Cecile with him. When Galdo leaves the bank, he is upset that Cecile has left the carriage and angrily orders the driver to head back to the house. That night, Lucien and a friend go Brisson’s house, and the Brisson’s maid, Babette, sneaks Lucien upstairs to see Cecile. Lucien explains what happened to Cecile just as their butler tells Cecile that her father wishes to speak with her, and Lucien quickly leaves her room to sneak back out. Meanwhile, Brisson is in his study and sees disfigured man at the window and backs away in terror as a howl is heard throughout the house. Cecile heads towards the study, joined by Lucien, LeBlanc, Babette, and Gaston (the cook) and find Brisson dead. Lucien leaves to look for clues just as Galdo arrives, and is angered that Lucien is at the house and tries to sway Cecile’s mind against him. When Lucien returns to the house, Galdo accuses him of killing Brisson and Lucien demands he apologize and when he doesn’t, Lucien strikes him and they agree to a duel later that night. Galdo leaves and Cecile tells Lucien she is worried about his health but Lucian says he isn’t worried. Suddenly, they see a hand reaching through the window and attempting to throw a dagger at Lucien but he quickly shoots the assailant, wounding the man in the right hand. Some time later, Galdo heads to the Blind Rat and hires three men to help him in his plot to get rid of Lucien. Babette and her boyfriend, Pierre, are heading to Babette’s house when they hide as the see Galdo and another man approaching. When Lucien and his friend arrive for the duel, two men quickly attack Lucien while the third attacks his friend and as the two men are tied up, Galdo gloats to Lucien about going to comfort Cecile before telling his men to throw the two captives in the river. The men do as they are told then head to the Blind Rat but after they leave, Pierre and Babette quickly go to rescue the two men. Meanwhile, a man arrives at the Brisson house and hands a note, supposedly written by Lucien, to Cecile and he take her to the Blind Rat to see him. When she enters the room, she is shocked to find Galdo there and yells at him for killing Lucien. Meanwhile, the three men are drinking at a table when a stranger joins them, wanting to speak with Galdo. The bar’s owner goes to get Galdo, who locks Cecile into the room before heading down to speak with the man. Galdo goes to speak with the man, who is revealed to be Lucien and several men quickly grab Lucien before he escapes. Inspector Gouffert arrives with some men and Galdo convinces him to arrest Lucien. Lucien demands Gouffert have Galdo remove his gloves, believing him to be the Wolf but when Galdo does and shows no injury on his hands, Lucien is forced to run, starting a fire in the bar to cover his escape. Lucien heads upstairs to look for Cecile and finds the room she is in and quickly frees her and they escape out the window. The next day, Galdo is speaking with Gouffert when Cecile shows up and tells them to meet her and Lucien at LeBlanc’s house, saying the answer to the mystery will be solved there and if Gouffert isn’t satisfied, Lucien will surrender. At LeBlanc’s house, LeBlanc is preparing his experiment for the night when he sees the disfigured person at his window and while he is distracted, Galdo sneaks in and stabs him in the back. Galdo quickly leaves but LeBlanc manages to write a note before he dies. Lucien, Cecile, and Pierre arrive but suddenly hear the Wolf’s howl and race to the lab to find LeBlanc dead. When Pierre finds the note, Lucien says that he will do the experiment and asks Cecile to stall Gouffert and Galdo until he calls for them. When Gouffert and Galdo arrive, Cecile welcomes them and keeps them upstairs until Lucien comes to get them. Luciem admits that LeBlanc is dead but says he worked with him enough to be able to complete his experiment of briefly bringing a body back to life. He shows Gouffert the note LeBlanc started to write, naming his killer, then places the pen and note next to the covered body’s hand and activates the machine. The hand comes to life and begins writing, naming Galdo as the killer and Galdo admits it but quickly makes his escape. Galdo runs to his house and enters a secret passage, where he keeps the disfigured man in a cage and it is revealed that it is his foster brother. When Gouffert and the police arrive, Galdo is attempting to push the cage into the river but his brother grabs him, revealing the gun shot wound on his hand, and the two men fall into the river and drown, while Lucien and Cecile embrace and kiss now that they are free to be married.

First off, I can not believe that I wrote such a long plot outline for a movie that was just over an hour long. Speaking of the movie, this was actually a decent movie. The acting was good, with Tod Slaughter doing a great job as Galdo. The story was somewhat predictable but there were several good twists to keep it from being too boring and actually keeping your interest piqued, such as Lucien shooting the knife wielder in the hand and Galdo wearing gloves afterwards but not having a wound when he is forced to remove them. The one thing I did not care for, and this was no fault of the movie itself, but the condition of the film used for this box set was definitely not the best, as the frames were rather jumpy at times. Still, a fun old movie that is worth watching if you ever get the chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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