This time around Chaney plays college professor Norman Reed, a man who has made his name on studies in logic. On a trip to the South Seas he meets Paula (Anne Gwynne), who has been raised by island natives to believe in tribal superstitions. Despite the dichotomy of their beliefs, the two fall in love and marry, much to the chagrin of Norman’s ex-girlfriend Illona (Evelyn Ankers). Illona begins to plot revenge by mentally manipulating Norman, Paula, and their colleagues at the college. Norman quickly finds himself under scrutiny for his professional conduct and, eventually, suspicion of murder. Paula tries to combat Norman’s troubles with her old tribal rituals, and Norman begins a mental war with himself as what appears to be mysterious circumstances begin to challenge his faith in logic.
While not quite on par with the first Inner Sanctum mystery, Weird Woman is still an enjoyable ride. Unlike Calling Dr. Death it won’t keep you guessing. The audience is let in pretty early on the fact that Illona is up to something even if the other characters are not. Chaney’s performance comes down a notch; his onscreen performance to the frequent inner-monologues doesn’t quite match up as well as it did in the earlier film. The rest of the cast gives merely adequate performances- with one exception. This film really was Evelyn Ankers’ time to shine. In The Wolf Man and Captive Wild Woman Ankers was pretty much the typical scream queen, the damsel in need of rescue, but here, she makes a rather devious villain. In a genre where there were really few good roles for young women, it makes for a refreshing change. Like Patricia Morrison in Calling Dr. Death, the Inner Sanctum is proving a good source for villainous females.
I’d say two for two then on the Inner Sanctum series. I look forward to seeing if it maintains its batting average.
This week’s supporting features:
Donald Duck in The Autograph Hound (1939)
The Our Gang short Free Wheeling (1932)
Son of Frankenstein (1939) starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwell