The Intruder (1933)
the intruder | albert ray | frances hyland | lila lee | monte blue | gwen lee | crime | drama | music | thriller | mystery | united states | arthur housman | mischa auer | sidney bracey | harry cording | william b. davidson | wilfred lucas | lynton brent | allan cavan
Film: The Intruder
Director: Albert Ray
Writer: Frances Hyland
Starring: Lila Lee, Monte Blue and Gwen Lee
This is a movie that I discovered through Letterboxd when searching for horror from 1933. The title intrigued me. I was able to find this one on Tubi to check out as well which made it easy. Surprisingly, this was a difficult one to search due to the title and the number of movies since they use it.
Synopsis: a murder is committed abroad on a cruise ship just before it sinks in a storm. The survivors, including the killer, land on a mysterious jungle island.
We start this on an ocean liner. A murder is committed so Det. Lt. Samson (William B. Davidson) is called in to investigate. He is on this ship due to following the now deceased man. He stole diamonds and Samson was following him. It is then thought that whoever did the killing should now have what he stole. In the room is Carlo (Sidney Bracey), who I believe is the deceased’s valet.
Samson demands that a group of people be brought in for questioning. This is Connie (Lila Lee), her father – Mr. Wayne (Wilfred Lucas) and her brother Reggie (Arthur Housman). The latter is incapacitated due to drinking. John Brandt (Monte Blue), Daisy (Gwen Lee) and Cramer (Harry Cording) are also called in. Before they can get into though, the ship hits something and they’re sinking. This causes panic. Samson can keep everyone in the room aside from John. He flees to save Reggie who is drunk in his room.
This group takes the last lifeboat along with Jamison (Lynton Brent), Capt. Rush (Allan Cavan) and Hanson (John Beck). They are all crew of the ship. This lifeboat makes it to an island. They must hold up here until rescue comes. They aren’t alone though. We see a gorilla that calls out in the night. There also is a wild man, played by Mischa Auer, living in a nearby cave. Also, as the synopsis said, the killer is a member of this group. They aren’t done yet as they try to get away with murder and keep the diamonds as well.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to the characters. The version I watched was 54 minutes so we don’t have the deepest story. I do hate to start with a negative, but this movie was all over the place with different plot points that it uses as well. I’ll admit, I did read someone else’s review to settle in before I could get into my thoughts. This was just to make sure I had things in line.
Where I want to then start is what I like about this movie. We get a murder that shifts into solving the crime. There are a group of suspects, but I'll be honest, I did have a bit of trouble keeping them straight. Connie and Daisy are called in, but I don't believe that they're considered to be the killers. John seems more of a suspect along with Carlo and Cramer. Loosely you could consider Reggie and Mr. Wayne, but the former always seems to be drunk and there for comic relief. Samson is determined to figure it out. He also seems stuck in his ways. If I'm understanding how this plays out, that makes more sense.
This feels standard for the era. Murder mysteries tended to be placed in the horror genre. What is wild about this is that the runtime for my version was under one hour. Despite that, this movie is disjointed in what it wanted to do. We start on a cruise ship which is great. There are then troubled waters and it causes it to sink. We then are on deserted island or so they think. We have this gorilla on the island and a wild man. We still have the murder mystery, but it doesn't seem like it knows what it wants to do. It falls in the trappings of getting too complicated and not fleshing out the elements well enough. This problem caused me to need to reread a synopsis as I was lost. Again, not good for a movie with a low runtime like this.
Where I'll then take this is to the acting. Lee is fine as one of our leads. She gets to show a bit of her abilities, but she also isn't given a lot to work with. There is a romance that sparks between her and Blue’s character. That was fitting for the era. I did like how Connie interacts with Gwen Lee's role. They play well off each other too. Housman does add comedy. That is about the extent for him. Davidson is solid as the detective. Other than that Bracey, Cording, Lucas, Brent, Cavan and Beck were all fine. None of them stand out. I did want to give Auer credit as the wild man. He's one that I've seen in other things. His character doesn't fit, but his performance was fine.
All that is left then is filmmaking. I do think that the cinematography is fine. It is early into history of film, so it is limited. We do get miniature work for the sea vessel when it is hitting rough water. It doesn't necessarily fit what they're conveying. It does have charm to it though. The print I saw wasn't in great shape either. There is a guy who is uncredited in an ape suit. That was interesting. Auer's look as the wild man is fine. What I'm saying is that we don't get a lot in the way of effects. It also doesn't need them. The soundtrack didn't stand out to me as a negative or a positive.
In conclusion, this movie feels too generic. It doesn't do well enough in building the story elements that would work. We are falling into a trap of trying to set itself apart by adding too many threads. The acting doesn't do well in carrying this. It is fine, but no one stands out. The filmmaking is about the same. It also doesn't do much to set itself apart either. I can't recommend this outside of seeing this oddity. There are good parts if they just would have focused on them. They didn't unfortunately.
My Rating: 4 out of 10