Late one stormy night the doorbell rings at the home of Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Ordway (Warner Baxter). At the door is Lois Garland (Nina Foch). She is upset and asks to speak to the doctor. She tells him that lately she has been having nightmares and is afraid she is going to give into the impulse to commit suicide. While they are talking a man comes in through the dining room window and listens at the door of the study. Lois asks Ordway to stay at her ocean front mansion, Ravencliff, for the weekend to keep an eye on her. At first Ordway refuses her request but when he sees that someone was in his house and left wet footprints and an open window he changes his mind.
At Ravencliff Ordway meets Lois’ sister Adele Carter (Jeanne Bates) and her husband Stanley (Lester Matthews). The only other person awake at that hour is the cook, Nick Kallus (Ben Welden). Nick had been in jail for murdering a man. Lois gave him a job until he finds something else. Nick is more than happy working for Lois. Lois asks Ordway to switch rooms with her to see if it is her or the room that is causing her anxiety.
During the night a gas fills the room that Ordway is sleeping in. A spectral image passes from the balcony to the bedroom door. He follows it as if in a trance. Ordway is found on the beach by Lois’ uncle, Frank Swift (George Zucco). Frank takes him back to the house. Still in a bit of a daze Ordway finds a dead body in the upstairs hallway. He wakes Lois and tells her about it but when they return to the hall the body is gone.
The next day Ordway finds the same body down by the beach. Lois identifies it as Raymond Shields, the senior partner of the firm that Lois works for. Later at breakfast Ordway meets Frederick Gordon (Minor Watson), Lois’ attorney, and Jesse Hilton (Edward Norris), Shields’ partner. During his investigation Ordway finds out how Shields was killed and how he got from the upstairs hall to beach. It seems that everyone is covering for everyone else, and Ordway has to sort out everyone’s secrets. Then another murder happens.
“Shadows in the Night” AKA “Crime Doctor’s Rendezvous” was released in 1944 and was directed by Eugene Forde. It is a mystery and is the third of ten movies in the Crime Doctor series made by Columbia Pictures.
This was a fun spooky movie. It’s part old dark house movie, part horror movie, part mystery movie. There are crashing waves on rocks, fog, spectral images, hypnotic gas, sleepwalking, a semi-mad scientist, in the form of George Zucco, an ex-con murderer, incompetent police, red herrings, and as many eerie movie tropes as possible for an hour and seven minutes. Through it all Ordway saunters through everything in a slightly amused manner finding clues and extracting information from everyone without them even knowing.
Are there plot holes, probably but I didn’t notice because I was having too much fun just enjoying the film.