Movie Critique - The Hidden Eye
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: For a B-movie, it had more than average performances by the actors, and a better murder mystery than most keeping the viewers hooked.
The Hidden Eye is a 1945 American mystery film directed by Richard Whorf. It is a sequel to 1942 Eyes in the Night with Edward Arnold, Frances Rafferty, Ray Collins and Paula Langton in the lead cast. It is produced by Robert Sisk.
Having already watched the 1942 prequel Eyes in the Night, a few years ago, I had been wanting to watch the sequel for a while. And lo and behold, TCM came to the rescue again.
Edward Arnold reprises his role as Captain Duncan "Mac" Maclain, the blind detective in this film. With help of seeing-eye dog, Friday (portrayed by Friday himself) and his bodyguard Marty Corbett (portrayed by William "Bill" Phillips), he is on a case investigating the mysterious deaths of Jean Hampton's (portrayed by Frances Rafferty) father and uncle. Every one including Jean comes under suspicion and Mac with his intelligent deductions manages to unravel the case.
Screenplay was by George Harmon Coxe and Harry Ruskin based on the original story written by George Harman using the characters created by Baynard Kendrick. Though the stories were not from Kendrick's novels, he had written 14 novels featuring Duncan Maclain and his two dogs and household staff aiding him solving cases.
This was supposed to be a movie series focusing on the blind detective and the cases he solved with help of his seeing-eye dog. However MGM stopped after this second film as it didn’t find public interest.
Although the central concept of showing the killer immediately after the crime, and the detectives later finding clues and motive to surround the killer is later used in the famed television series, Columbo which starts 26 years after this film was released. The recipe was successful for Columbo, but didn’t help this film much.
We see Ray Collins portraying the role of Phillip Treadway in the film. He is famous for his role as determined police Lieutenant Arthur Tragg on the original television series, Perry Mason, that aired from 1957 to 1966. He was in 241 episodes that show. Incidentally one of the characters who gets killed in the film is called Arthur Hampton (portrayed by Raymond Largay). Coincidental perhaps!
Frances Rafferty's Jean Hampton is a clever little girl who goes to many edges to get the shadow of doubt off her boyfriend's head. Edward Arnold again is an excellent blind detective. Sadly we don’t see more of him.
Both the roles of Marty and the Butler are played by different actors in this film than the previous one. The play of light and shadow has definitely been taken advantage of, specially to show the sinister emotions of the antagonist.
Sixty-nine minutes of absolute thrill and mind-stimulating scenes; it does make your grey cells work harder. For a B-movie, it had more than average performances by the actors, and a better murder mystery than most keeping the viewers hooked. A good film to watch.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. The little black terrier that distracts seeing eye dog Friday is the famous dog that portrayed Toto in The Wizard of Oz.