Empire builder Leo Grainger (George Zucco) and his accountant Dr. Lake (Ian Keith) were divested, framed, and sent up the river for five years. While out of the way someone dispatched Mrs. Granger leaving her daughter Gail (Sharon Douglas) to fend for her self.
Well Leo is back and ready for a little revenge and with luck the discovery of his late wife’s dispatcher. He invites all the usual suspects to a treasure hunt, making no pretenses as to his real feelings. Little do they know the house is full of secret passages and deadly traps. We see each person as the make their decision to join the hunt. All but one who is already dead; so his son Jeff Kingsley (John Whitney) attends to find he knows the stepdaughter of Leo. The question is is he on her side or just another money grubber?
Now where have we heard a story of an unexcitable island with a houseful of suspicious guests, a charming girl and one guest substitute that she is attracted to? Oh and of course justice is done. This is acutely based on the play “Angle Island” by Bernadine Angus.
A pen for Emiline Bronson.
A small book of multiplication tables for John Kavanaugh.
A toy skull for Sylvia Jordan.
A chisel for Alec Richfield.
A knife for Jeff Kingsley.
And a key for Gail, whose last name we never learn.
These are party favors from Leo Grainger, a failed financier whose associates framed him with a fraud rap. He was sent to jail for five years. And someone murdered his rich wife. This night they are all gathered on Fog Island in Grainger's hulking mansion, amidst fog so thick you can lean against it. Grainger invited them with hints that from the money he was convicted of stealing, a fortune still remains buried somewhere in the mansion. However, Jeff Kingsley turns out to be the innocent son of one of the conspirators, a man who has died recently. And Gail is Leo Grainger's stepdaughter, a young woman who seems pouty and resentful, yet who appears to have respect for her stepfather. During this long night, Leo Grainger's party favors will lead to retribution and horrible death.
For fans of low-budget Forties' movies, especially those which feature mystery, death and strange animals, human and otherwise, roaming the moors, two names stand high in the pantheon of actors who deliver the goods: George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. They were born within a year of each other in England, Zucco in 1886 and Atwill in 1885. Both had distinguished stage careers. Zucco left Britain for Hollywood in 1935. Atwill arrived in America in 1915. Atwill was so confident and assured as an actor that it was easy to overlook how hammy he could be. Zucco's mad glare made it easy to overlook how good an actor he was, and how avuncular and reassuring he could be as a good guy. Both settled into strong character parts in the Thirties, often in A-level movies, and both, for different reasons, ended up in more and more low-budget mystery and horror programmers in the Forties...Zucco because as he got older he began to accept any roles offered to him; Atwill because he was involved in a scandal and could only find work in low-budget cheapies.
Fog Island is fun because it is one of the few films the two actors appear in together. Zucco is Leo Grainger, a man who will have his retribution. Atwill is Alec Richfield, one of the instigators of Leo's downfall and a prime suspect in the death of Leo's wife. The third major player, of course, is the glowering mansion set on this isolated island. We quickly learn, as Leo goes about setting his traps, that some of his guests are going to encounter the dank lower chambers carved in the living rock, rooms with hidden doors, pits covered with disguised lids and one water-tight room, deep in the bowels of the island, where horri...well, you need to see the movie.
The film features some barely adequate acting, gloomy and surprisingly rich-looking interiors, a lot of obviously one-take scenes, as well as a suspicious looking butler. And among the cast is that tall, blond specialist in dames you shouldn't trust, Veda Ann Borg. Those fans of low-budget programmers like me miss her.
This public domain movie is in barely watchable shape, with audio that is slightly worse. For fans of Zucco and Atwill, it's worth a look.
on 19 September 2011
i first saw this film about 40years ago.I have always remembered its creepy atmosphere.So i bought this copy a year or more ago and have just viewed it.I neednt have bothered as it is unwatchable.i can accept the variable picture quality with scratches,splices and scenes missing.What i cannot accept is the sound which reverberates so much that you cannot undertand what the actors are saying.I dont know how the distributors have the nerve to put out a copy of this quality.Also the packing states that it is 78minutes long when in fact it only lasts 68minutes,so dont bother to buy this.