VICTOR JORY invariably played a villain, mainly in westerns. I got a surprise when I saw him in FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS as friend to Randolph Scott – he played a soft spoken man totally different from anything I’d seen him in before.
In Hollywood from 1930, Victor was even an action hero as THE SHADOW in 1940. I’d love to see PARTY WIRE from 1935 in which he costarred with JEAN ARTHUR.
So I was pleased to see Victor in one of his few leading roles in THE UNKNOWN GUEST which was the second Hollywood writing assignment for PHILIP YORDAN who went on to win an Oscar for his screenplay for BROKEN LANCE.
The film opens with Victor witnessing a murder. He flees to a hunting lodge his uncle and aunt own.They are closing the lodge for the winter and getting ready to take off for their annual holiday to St.Louis.They are not at all pleased to see him and want him to leave. But they are intimidated by him.
Next day PAMELA BLAKE turns up wondering why the lodge is still open. – she worked for the old couple. Instead of telling her to go, Victor, inexplicably allows her to stay on but tells her not to go near the cellar!
Folks begin to suspect he has bumped off his relatives.
VEDA ANN BORG has a tiny role in two scenes as his duplicitous girlfriend.
I can accept the premise that the local sheriff and others become suspicious of Victor – but the audience is manipulated into believing their suspicions .
The first and last scenes in the film do not add up and other scenes needed more subtlety.Having the very young looking Pamela Blake fall for Victor is so unconvincing.
I guess Philip YORDAN was still learning his trade when he wrote Unknown Guest.Monogram released this King Bros production. The director was Kurt Neumann and Dimitri Tiomkin wrote the music.
I’m still glad I saw it, but such a pity the script wasn’t better.