The Monster Walks
A marvelous shocker, with some expert use of wild or off-camera sound (a violin playing, thunder, etc.).
It really comes to life with some startling images, an ape’s hand extinguishing a candle, then appearing through a headboard to strangle a sleeping lady.
Fine performances by Mischa Auer and Sleep ‘n Eat (Willie Best) amidst a sterling cast (Sheldon Lewis notably glowers like a champion).
Erle Stanley Gardner may have composed a variant, “The Case of the Grinning Gorilla”, to judge by the series episode of Perry Mason with that title (director Jesse Hibbs, writer Jackson Gillis).
Our title is suggested by the script, old Mr. Earlton complains of his “lifeless limbs,” and an ape’s wild screams are heard.
The Vampire Bat
The joke was lost on A.D.S. of the New York Times, who pooh-poohed in Gotham splendor without seeing what it was exactly the evil doctor was growing in his lab, certainly not a ruby heart that beats but what appears to be a palpitating sponge in an aquarium tank.
Lionel Atwill for this, Melvyn Douglas the inspector, Fay Wray the girl.
Someone is draining villagers of blood, all gone in minutes with two puncture wounds on the neck. The inspector pooh-poohs vampires, werewolves even, touted by the credulous folk.
The girl’s Aunt Gussie clings to the doctor out of arrant hypochondria, salicylic acid can be mispronounced amusingly, he gives her Epsom salts as a parting shot.
The fine point is the turning of Emil’s mind as he realizes he’s being thrown to the police, he who did the doctor’s telepathic bidding, another husk.
The Pilgrimage Play
The script drives home the world well lost in a culmination at the Last Supper, after the composition by Leonardo, and in the final scene on the Mount of Olives, ending with Jesus telling his followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” This now changes to a pan across the starry skies, to give a conclusion not unlike that of Jack Arnold’s The Incredible Shrinking Man.
On the other hand, the script excels in delineating the Roman and Jewish authorities. Herod says, “I have hearkened enough to the bitterness of thine accusations. I will test the temper of the people,” and with the camera on him in his official capacity, in a medium shot of the dais and Jesus, these are words worth a thousand pictures.
Jesus enters Jerusalem in a shot anticipating Tony Richardson’s Laughter in the Dark, riding an ass across the upper part of the screen, while well-wishers wave palm branches below in parallel movement. He is brought bound unto Caiaphas to the accompaniment of a comical little march echoing Barney Fife’s War on Crime.