Mystery Street (1950) starring Ricardo Montalban, Bruce Bennett, Sally Forrest, Elsa Lanchester
Synopsis of Mystery Street
In Mystery Street, a small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when the skeletal remains of a pregnant prostitute turn up on a Massachusetts beach.
Review of Mystery Street
First, Mystery Street is a surprisingly entertaining film noir from 1950. It deals with some shocking details (for the time). It’s very well done, and well-acted, with now-famous cast members giving good performances. Ricardo Montalban shines as a State Police detective, investigating a homicide. He does so with the assistance of a Harvard physician (Bruce Bennet). In one sense, the entire movie is an early look at CSI. It’s well acted, filmed, with an entertaining pace, and I strongly recommend it.
Cast of characters in Mystery Street
- Peter Moralas (Ricardo Montalban, Neptune’s Daughter, Star Trek II). He’s a serious, no-nonsense detective, well-played by Ricardo Montalban. First, he diligently follows the clues. And they lead to the arrest of a man. And then, continues to work the case, as he has doubts about the man’s guilt.
- Dr. McAdoo (Bruce Bennett, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Alligator People). The forensic specialist who deals with the autopsy of the murder victim. And keeps helping with the investigation in various ways.
- Vivian Heldon (Jan Sterling, Ace in the Hole, Johnny Belinda). The murder victim. A young, attractive “dancer” with a lot of “boyfriends”. Her body is found months after her disappearance. Then, It’s revealed that she was pregnant. And the father of the unborn child is likely the murderer.
- Henry Shanway (Marshall Thompson, It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion). A young man whose car was stolen, the night his father miscarried. Stolen by the murder victim. And he was in the car inebriated as well – something he initially hides from the police. And causes them to suspect him of the murder. Later, he’s arrested for it.
- Grace Shanway (Sally Forrest, While the City Sleeps, Excuse My Dust). Henry’s wife, who is already dealing with the loss of her child. A strong woman, pushed to the edge by her husband’s arrest. And the fear that he was unfaithful. But he assures her of his fidelity in one of the film’s best moments.
- Mrs. Smerrling (Elsa Lanchester, Bride of Frankenstein, Come to the Stable). The landlady of the dead girl. An unscrupulous person, who has stolen and sold the victim’s goods. To pay for “back rent” supposedly. She later steals the murder weapon, and blackmails the murderer. And dies for her troubles. A very good portrayal of a very unlikable person.
- James Joshua Harkley (Edmon Ryan, Topaz, Tora! Tora! Tora!). One of Vivian’s 86(!) boyfriends, and so a suspect. A married man, businessman, and unlikable man. He’s not above looking down on Moralas as an immigraant.
Editorial review of Mystery Street
John Sturges (The Great Escape) directs a revealing-for-the-era procedural about a Boston cop (Ricardo Montalban) solving a whodunit with the help of a Harvard forensic expert (Bruce Bennett). Welcome to CSI Noir.