Dr. Renault’s Secret [1942]


  An WW2 horror mystery with a really lame poser, cast and crew not ringing any bells. Movie is weirdly clocking at less then an hour, but I love that, the shorter the better, while still being a feature, of course. What’s unfortunate, if you try to find out anything about the movie on the Internet, you’ll surely know Dr. Renault’s secret before even watching the movie, since everyone’s comparing the movie to a certain work of literature. But what got me somewhat excited is that it was released in the Fox Horror Classics box alongside Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Dragonwyck, a brilliant gothic film by a man who made the absolute classic All About Eve only four years later. Hope it’s in the box with a reason.


  Dr. Larry Forbes (Shepperd Strudwick) arrives at the inn, waiting for Dr. Renault’s servant Noel (J. Carrol Naish), a seemingly retarded man barely able to talk, of Javanese heritage, to take him to the castle, where he is too marry Dr. Renault’s niece, Madelon (Lynne Roberts). But Rogell (Mike Mazurki), another one of Dr. Renault’s servants, an ex-convict of towering 1,96 meters, arrives at the inn too, telling them they can’t reach the castle tonight because the bridge is flooded, creating a Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Franz Kafka’s The Castle atmosphere. After Dr. Forbes and another guest mix the room, the other guest gets killed. Who killed him? Was he the real target? What’s Dr. Renault’s secret?

From left to right, Noel (J. Carrol Naish), Dr. Larry Forbes (Shepperd Strudwick) and another guest.

  The story gets your attention though you pretty much know who did it, but that’s not the big mystery, the title secret is. Only shame about that secret is the way it’s reveled, not through flashback but through pictures and text in doctor’s notebook and narration. It would be pretty exciting if it was in flashbacks, but it’s a B production, so it’s understandable. B meaning inexpensive or a minor project, not bad. Really, I couldn’t find any flaws to the production. Cinematography is good, lightning not spectacular, but pleasant with shadow play.

Rogell (Mike Mazurki)

  Only four of the actors were credited. J. Carrol Naish as Noel was brilliant in this unrewarding and tricky role, playing it without any ironic detachment, but never silly or ridiculous. I can’t be any more specific because I don’t wanna spoil. George Zucco as the sinister Dr. Renault was not sinister and was pretty boring. Shepperd Strudwick and Lynne Roberts were probably famous for their good look at the time, because have no quality. Mike Mazurki is great, with a scary face, a booming voice and great height, great may-be-villain. Arthur Shields as Inspector Duval was fun to watch, a perfect slimy inspector.

Inspector Duval (Arthur Shields)

  Really cool mystery movie with a twist, were could be lacking in plot makes up in enjoyable performances, especially by Mr. Naish, and in running time of only fifty five minutes. I’d prefer it over any episode of a TV series, if you don’t have time to watch the usual length feature movie.

It’s funny ’cause it’s bestiality.

The eye.

Madelon (Lynne Roberts)

Delightful scene.

With time I learn to enjoy off screen happenings.


Contains spoilers.


2 Responses to “Dr. Renault’s Secret [1942]”

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