The Moonstone (1934) Poster

(1934)

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Decent Low-Budget Adaptation of A Good Story
Snow Leopard24 October 2005
Although it frequently gives evidence of its low-budget status, this is still a decent adaptation of the Wilkie Collins novel. The original novel "The Moonstone" makes pretty good use of some generally familiar themes of the genre, with its main strength probably being the atmosphere. This movie version does a solid job with limited resources in setting the atmosphere and in telling the basic story developments.

David Manners and Phyllis Barry head up the cast, as a group of characters come together in a remote mansion on a stormy night, with a legendary and very valuable diamond the focus of everyone's attention. It's a familiar setup, but the story adds some touches of science and some extra background to the characters, to go along with the mood and the setting.

The cast and the production are usually solid, if unspectacular, and most of the time things move at a good pace. A larger budget could have made the movie more enjoyable to watch, but as far as the basic story goes, this one does a solid job, and for its time it's a pretty good job.
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6/10
Prototype: Dark and Stormy Night
Hitchcoc7 November 2006
The only similarity I see between this and its namesake is the jewel. The rest is a pretty typical drawing room mystery. It has a pretty decent set of eccentric characters, a love interest, a man in a turban (very exotic, right), and a lot of shenanigans. The carelessness with which the stone, worth a fortune, is treated stops me. The female lead is totally unappealing. She is so dumb that I couldn't care less what happens to her. Her fiancé is a big lunk with no real character. There is some atmosphere of the mansion in the rain. The lights go out and there is a bit of a surprise. Overall, however, it lacks much development and ends in a rather far fetched way.
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6/10
The lights go out and a gem is missing.
michaelRokeefe25 September 2004
In spite of a short 45 minute run time I really enjoyed THE MOONSTONE based on the book by Wilkie Collins. Reginald Baker directs a tight knit collection of performers in this mystery that takes place in a crowded house during a rain storm. Anne Verinder(Phyllis Barry)inherits a priceless gem the Moonstone necklace. Her fiancée Franklin Blake(David Manners)is bringing the precious diamond to England from India. He arrives at the Verinder's countryside home and finds a house full of guests that includes a notorious money lender Carl Von Lucker(Gustav Von Seyffertitz). While everyone is assembled the storm causes the lights to go out and the necklace is snatched from Anne's neck. It was grabbed by a maid for "safe keeping". Anne puts the stone under her pillow and when she awakes the necklace is gone. Scotland Yard Inspector Cuff(Charles Irwin)is to figure out which one of the guests is a jewel thief. The loud rain storm provides great atmosphere. Also in the cast are: Herbert Bunston, Evalyn Bostock, John Davidson and Jameson Thomas.
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7/10
Superior B Picture
boblipton5 June 2003
Veteran director Reginald Barker -- whose career included several superior William S. Hart Westerns and Thomas Ince's landmark CIVILIZATION -- directed this near the end of his career and he tells the story with a fluid camera and many visual grace notes. Unhappily, the dialogue is not up to the camerawork, but this first sound version of Wilkie Collins' classic mystery is well produced and well worth your time.
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6/10
Moonstone - who dunnit?
ksf-227 July 2008
David Manners and Phyllis Barry star in Moonstone, one of the last pictures directed by Reginal Barker. Part of the Reelmedia/Treeline Murder Mystery Collection, the sound and picture quality are pretty rough. IMDb shows original length of 62 minutes, but the Reelmedial version is only 46 minutes... hmmmm... it was already short to begin with... wonder if the missing minutes were cut due to poor quality of the film. It has the usual murder-mystery ingredients - creepy characters, dark and stormy night, lights going out, the man from Scotland yard. The case gets conveniently solved in short order (since this version is so short to begin with) and there are no plots turns or twists. My favorite character is Betteredge, the mouthy old housekeeper, played by Elspeth Dudgeon (born in 1871!) I'd be quite interested to see the 62 minute version sometime.
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7/10
Very Good But Too Short
dbborroughs16 April 2004
The story is a slightly updated story of the legendary Moonstone gem coming into the possession of a young girl and then disappearing as thieves and assorted others try to make off with it.

The two prints that I've seen of this movie run only 45 minutes, so I'm not certain what the full running time is, or was, but film while seeming rushed at the end, seems to have everything in it. But the biggest problem is that it is rushed. After almost a half a hour of slow building set up the gem disappears and it races through to the end as a police procedural to find the culprit.

The performances are very good and they make watching this brief mystery fun to watch. Definitely worth your time - especially if you're pressed for time. (If you come across the Alpha Video version pick it up since its paired with the equally good Murder at Midnight)
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5/10
"They're certainly asking for trouble and they'll probably get it".
classicsoncall7 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If you've seen enough of these Poverty Row programmers from the 1930's, you'll recognize that they pretty much adopt a tried and true formula depending on the genre. The dark and stormy night atmospherics will often accompany a murder mystery, or as in this case, the disappearance of the valuable Herncastle Moonstone Diamond. So then you'll have to keep an eye out for the minor bit of originality that might creep in to distinguish it from the rest. What I found interesting in this flick was that bit of misdirection with the old lights out trick when the moonstone vanished for the first time and it turned out that the housekeeper grabbed it for safekeeping. Couldn't figure out why she was crawling under a table though when the lights came back on. Anyone?

"The Moonstone" winds up being a fairly typical mystery which, as others on this board have mentioned, is solved rather hastily if not haphazardly using a sleepwalk gimmick masterminded by the exposed villain. As is often the case, the suspects with a real criminal past are thrown in as red herrings and get enough screen time to merit observation. There was also an interesting tidbit thrown in about the jewel having been stolen many years ago from an Indian temple, with true believers dedicated to returning it to it's former home. I guess that's why Yandoo was there; I thought he would have a larger role in the story, but that wasn't the case.

I'll say this though, for a valuable diamond, Ann Verinder (Phyllis Barry) was awfully nonchalant about it. With a safe on the premises and warnings to safeguard it from most everyone around her, you would think she would find a better place to put it than under her pillow. But then I guess, you wouldn't have a story.
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5/10
Moonstone in name only
jonfrum200017 March 2012
Those who have read the classic book by Wilkie Collins should not expect anything similar. Other than a jewel called the Moonstone, that is. The 1933-34 years saw movies that still suffered from the silent film hangover, and some that showed more naturalistic acting. This has some of both, leaning towards the stiffness of the silents. As noted by others, the actress playing the lead is so foolish that it's difficult to care that she's had her jewel stolen. And then there's the scene where she refuses to have her belongings searched for the jewel, which is never explained. And the reveal comes out of nowhere, with no 'detecting' at all. Watch 1933's The Kennel Murder Case for far superior acting and plotting. This movie just doesn't have the right pieces in the right places. It tries, but never really pays off. Still, I did watch it to the fast-arriving end, so I can't complain too much. Worth watching as long as you don't expect too much. Watch it on a dark and stormy night when you have nothing else to do.
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Choppy Short Version
dougdoepke22 March 2017
I'm leery of drawing hard and fast conclusions since I too saw the shortened 45-minute version. The editing appears choppy, especially the last, reveal section. That, plus a fuzzy sound quality didn't help. Anyway, from what I saw, the programmer's a fairly standard dark and stormy night, except no one gets murdered. Instead, it's a stolen gem that breeds the mystery.

Oddly, what I took away from the proceedings was not the plot nor the slam-bang thunder, but two of the greatest faces of the time—von Seyferttitz and Dudgeon. I wanted a scene where they could go nose to nose; that is, if the set were big enough to handle their majestic blades. In fact, to me, vS has an appearance that should have pushed him up the Hollywood ladder of intellectual villains. Then too, I'm surprised John Davidson's exotic Hindu didn't get more time. But his may have been a casualty of the shortened version.

At the same time, I should note the nicely fluid camera work that seems unusual for early talkies still struggling with sound. All in all, from what I saw, it's an interesting, if uneven, time-passer.
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6/10
Another dark and stormy night in an old dark house filled with creepy eccentrics.
mark.waltz22 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Everybody seems desperate to get their hands on a priceless Indian gem bequested to the heroine, a young British lady (Phyllis Barry) who has no idea that her father is in debt and that a ton of people covet her newly gotten gain. Rumors of a curse on the jewel run rampant, and an early attempt to steal it fails thanks to the quick thinking of the hatchet faced housekeeper who adores Barry.

Pretty lavish by Monogram standards, this creaks along, but that adds atmosphere to the spooky story. David Manners, the young hero of "Dracula" and "The Black Cat", adds another portrait of youthful innocence tossed up against unspeakable evils, while Elspeth Dudgeon (who played a man in "The Old Dark House" and a ghoul in "Shh! The Octopus!") is feisty and lovable as a rare switch in the usually sinister portrait of the housekeeper. She's a delightful old ham who knows how to steal a scene with either a sneer or a sniff, and gets the script's funniest lines. Gustav von Seyffertitz (the psychiatrist from "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town"), with that dark and sinister accent, is a top suspect along with a turban wearing Hindu (John Davidson) who claims to have switched to Christianity.

Delightfully short and intriguing, this is another variation of a similar theme that went back well to the silent era and is occasionally parodied to this day. Some DVD prints run 15 minutes less than the full version, and even those ones aren't missing anything that would give the audience more clues.
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3/10
Pretty ordinary....and not all that mysterious.
MartinHafer6 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This Monogram mystery has fallen into the public domain. In addition, this public domain version is only about 46 minutes long--most likely trimmed down in order to sell it to television (in order to fit the one hour time slot including commercials). Because of this, the full version (if it's available) might be a better or worse film--I just don't know.

The film is about a famed 'moonstone' (not to be confused with the one from the Pokemon game). It's a huge and rare gem that has strange properties--it changes colors depending on the moon's phases! So what does the woman do who owns this super-valuable stone? Yep, she carries it around and shoves it under her pillow at night--even with the house full of house guests--one of whom has, in the past, been accused of jewel thefts and she knows it!!! Can anyone be THAT stupid? Well, in this contrived film, the answer is yes. Now the rest of the story isn't bad--but it's awfully easy to know who the thief is--so there isn't much mystery about this mystery film. It's not terrible...it just isn't all that great and has too many plot problems to make it worth seeking--even if it is free since it's free to watch due to it being in the public domain.
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4/10
Recipient of both affects and the jewel
bkoganbing9 January 2012
Considering that Monogram Pictures had a rather huge novel according to some of the other reviewers to work with, the fact that they cut it down to a 62 minute programmer, 46 minutes in the version I've seen, they came up with a coherent version of The Moonstone. The problem was that at least here the suspense seems to have been drained from it.

David Manners and Phyllis Barry head the cast, he as sweetheart and solicitor and custodian of The Moonstone, she as the recipient of both Manners affections and the jewel. A cast of usual suspects supports them, but if you can't figure out who the culprit might be on this dark and stormy night, you don't even need to have seen too many of them.

There is an interesting gimmick in the story involving one of the leads, but I won't go further lest you want to see the film. Still it might have been done better by a major studio.
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5/10
Monogram rolls out the classics!!
kidboots17 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
With the success of "Jane Eyre" behind them, Monogram then released "The Moonstone", another film based on a Victorian classic, this time by Wilkie Collins. Supposedly the first modern detective novel, Monogram did very well to condense the huge novel into a brisk and thrilling 62 minutes (it was a longer film originally). Monogram would have done better to keep it as a period film instead of modernizing it.

Franklyn Blake (David Manners) has returned to England from India bringing the moonstone - rumoured to have been stolen from an Idol. He arrives at Verinder Manor on a dark and stormy night. Ann, his fiancée, stupidly begs to sleep with it under her pillow instead of putting it in the safe, so of course, in the morning it has been stolen. Ann's father has a heart attack and Ann seems to be in a trance. An old dark house mystery - everyone is a suspect. Carl Von Lucker (Gustav Von Seyffertitz) is disgusted at being asked for more money, Godfrey Ablewhite (Jameson Thomas) is resentful that Ann is engaged and also has gambling loses, Ann's father is being forced to vacate his home because he has no money to continue his experiments and the maid is very interested in the gem, especially when she realises the stone is worth $30,000!!! A serum is administered to Franklyn so he can re-enact his movements of that night. He does take the moonstone, sees a blurry outline of his valet, Yandoo, and asks him to look after the gem but who did he see on the original night!! Obviously the editing was done at the film's finish because it ended so fast!!!

John Davidson seemed to be often cast in exotic roles. In this film he was Yandoo, an Indian (in "Death From a Distance" (1935) he played Ahmad Haidru). David Manners was the perfect actor to play opposite some of the most beautiful actresses of the early 30s. He was handsome but non threatening and obviously didn't care enough about his career to last past the mid 30s - "A Woman Rebels" (1936) was his last film.

After a sensational debut as the lovestruck shopgirl in "Cynara" (1932), within a few movies Phyllis Barry was reduced to playing "the girl" in such "classics" as "What! No Beer?" (1933), "Long Lost Father" (1934) and "Love Past Thirty" (1934) - she was even way down the cast list of a "sexploitation" film "Damaged Goods"(1937) aka "Are You Fit To Marry?"!!! So her role as Ann Verinder in "The Moonstone" may be among her most prestigious roles. Another case of "whatever happened to...".
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Got mooned by 'The Moonstone"
GManfred10 June 2009
Despite the hackneyed premise and milieu, the stage was set for a pretty interesting murder mystery. It is a 'gloomy-mansion-on-a-dark-and-stormy-night' movie, which can be very absorbing if done right. It had a good collection of characters/suspects and got off to a good start.

All of sudden came the scientific-drivel denouement, the deus-ex-machina, which was both cynical and anti-climactic. This was the best the author could do? And why the rush to a conclusion? the story is short enough as is. Good performances all around and the production values were very adequate, considering this was a Poverty Row production.

Sorry I can't recommend this one, but I still have a lot of movies left in my DVD collection. On to the next case.
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5/10
Dark And Stormy Night... "Eh, What? What?!"
davidcarniglia31 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The coolest credits ever--art deco image with two streamlined trains pulling 'Monogram' and 'Pictures' through skyscrapers on elevated rails. And then the rest of the credits in a more traditional, but no less artistic manner.

The Moonstone, if we're not familiar with the Wilkie Collins novel, is a huge gem. Starting in Scotland Yard with Inspector Cuff (Charles Irwin), we head out for the country, on a dark and stormy night, to the Verinder's mansion, Hearncastle, or is it Hearn Manor?. Anne Verinder (Phyllis Barry) lives there with her father Sir John (Herbert Bunston). Dr. Jennings (Olam Hytten) is on hand, just in case...something happens, I suppose. Von Lucker (Gustav Von Seyfferititz), "a notorious moneylender" is there to get Sir John to cough up a debt.

He recognizes Roseanne, a maid, it seems that they've had some business. Von Kicker wants the Moonstone in lieu of the debt. Also in debt is Godfrey (Jameson Thomas); Anne got away from him, so he's in arrears in his love life as well "You know I love you" he tells her, forlornly. Actually he's her cousin; he's fixated on her Moonstone as well.

Soon Anne's fiance Franklin/Frank Drake (David Manners) shows up with the fabled jewel; also Yandoo (John Davidson), Franklin's servant. The lights go out; the Moonstone disappears. A servant quickly finds it under a table. Anne hits the hay, but a couple of hours later Sir John tumbles in, then a hallway door opens...someone's been in Anne's room and pilfered the Moonstone.

A servant finds Sir John laid out on the floor, not dead though. They just sort of gawk at him. "Don't just stand there like a stuffed owl!" Frank admonishes Godfrey. Hankering for action, Frank wants to ring up Cuff, but the line's dead. In this very make-believe world, it's not too surprising that Cuff actually shows up at the door as needed. He interviews each person. Weirdly, Anne gets petulant, and goes back to her room, more or less indifferent to both her father and the Moonstone.

Cuff reveals that the servant Roseanne has been in cahoots with Von Lucker, Yandoo's problem is that his countrymen are sworn to recover the Moonstone for India. In short, everyone's somewhat compromised. Godfrey doubly so.

"You nosy old owl!" the servant Betteredge barks at Cuff. Sir John mumbles some cryptic stuff about Roseanna and hot milk; one clue is an experimental anaesthetic drug that the doctor is going on about. Apparently, he and Sir John have been working on it. Has Sir John been under its influence? Sir John had Roseanne give it to Frank in his hot milk.

Supposedly, the stuff (RTH) will make a person recall memories; they give it to Frank (in the hot milk again) to see what happens. Sleepwalking, Frank goes to Anne's room and takes a substitute gem. He thinks Yandoo is Godfrey. "Godfrey, Godfrey? Take this wretched thing. The place is full of thieves!" Which means Godfrey and Von Lucker get fingered for the heist.

Thanks to Scotland Yard tidying things up, all's well. Frank and Anne make with the Moonstone (with each other too). I suppose with this ultra-abbreviated 45 minute version of an already short 62 minute original, some plot points got misplaced, like so many little Moonstones. It's not explained how the drug can make someone do so many complex things. I can buy sleepwalking, and given the semi-horror mystery atmosphere, I'll even go along with the sleepwalker's ability to duplicate previous behavior.

But how could Von Lucker/Godfrey 'program' Frank to steal the Moonstone in the first place? All that Jennings offer is that RTH provides "a stimulating reaction" to the slight overdose. Not much of an explanation. It might've been better to induce a trance-like state through hypnosis, then control Frank by instructions/suggestions. That method would be more in keeping with the mystery premise, and it's much more believable.

Also, it seems that Sir John knew all about the theft plan. That's incredible for two reasons: it assumes that he would steal, or conspire to steal from his own daughter; and, having done so, that he's somehow not culpable. After all, he and Jennings cooked up the drug--it couldn't have been used without his knowledge and direction.

The best aspect of The Moonshine is the sniping between Betteredge and Cuff. "Go down to the river and put the water over your head" he tells her. They only need sneer at each other to project mutual loathing. That's vintage British humor at its best.

Other than those juicy morsels, a genuinely creepy atmosphere, plus the very artistic credits, The Moonstone doesn't really stick with you. Sort of the opposite reaction to the fabled RTH, as this movie probably won't have many viewers repeating the experience, either awake or asleep. 5/10.
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3/10
If you liked the novel, don't watch this disappointing movie!
JohnHowardReid12 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 15 September 1934 by Monogram Pictures Corp. No New York opening. U.S. release: 20 August 1934. U.K. release: 23 March 1935. Australian release: 17 July 1935. 7 reels. 62 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: A guest steals a valuable jewel from the daughter of the house. Inspector (sic) Cuff nails the culprit.

NOTES: Despite the novel's enormous popularity, The Moonstone has only been filmed twice, firstly in 1915 and then on Poverty Row in 1934. Although Sergeant Cuff was eliminated from the silent version, the popular Eugene O'Brien made a dashing Franklin Blake, whilst the lovely Elaine Hammerstein was equally delightful as the heroine. An expensive production, this Moonstone was often inventively directed by Frank H. Crane.

Like his other famous mystery thriller, The Woman in White (1860), The Moonstone was not only based on real people and actual events, but no attempts were made to disguise these facts. Contemporary readers were well aware that Sergeant Cuff was the well-known Scotland Yard inspector, Jonathan Whicher, and that dull- witted Superintendent Seegrave was actually an Inspector Foley.

Both novels are cleverly built up from complex plots that encompass many cliff-hanging thrills before being finally resolved into satisfying, high-tension climaxes.

COMMENT: Just about what you might expect from a Monogram interpretation. A great novel is here reduced in size and stature until its bare bones are scarcely recognizable. The setting has been updated, the plot grossly over-simplified and its unique characters transformed into the formula creations of Hollywood-land.

With two or three exceptions, all the players stand around, declaiming their lines to an invisible gallery. Bunston, Barry and Thomas are the worst offenders. Although he doesn't the least resemble the novel's Cuff, Charles Irwin registers fairly well; whilst David Manners proves his usual mildly personable self; but it is Evelyn Bostock who makes off with the picture's acting honors, such as they are.

Stiff direction and impoverished production values don't help, though ace photographer Robert Planck has managed a few welcome atmospheric effects, despite being forced to shoot in obvious haste.

OTHER VIEWS: The credit titles, suitably framed within the borders of the novel, promise much, but the picture delivers disappointingly little. Good players are worn down by tepidly repetitious dialogue and an even more feeble plot. After a few initial sparks of inventiveness, the direction dies too. — G.A.
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2/10
Not much resemblance to the great novel
kendavies21 July 2014
If you want to see an adaptation of The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins' great mystery story, you will be greatly disappointed by this standard country house whodunit, complete with posh accents to conform to American stereotypes. Collins was the originator of the genre (The Moonstone was the first detective novel in English) and also much better at it than those who followed (Dorothy L. Sayers called it "probably the very finest detective story ever written"). Collins' friend Charles Dickens, for example, though one of the greatest novelists, found it difficult to emulate him (never finishing The Mystery of Edwin Drood). The Moonstone includes elements totally absent from this B movie, including Hinduism, the Indian caste system, narcotics, etc., etc.. The best part of it is the opening with trains spelling out the film company name in a futuristic townscape.
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3/10
A Boring And Typical Whodunit
Rainey-Dawn3 September 2016
Nothing special about this one - it's a typical and rather boring whodunit. The film feels very stagy (like a made for TV movie and not one for the movie theaters) and the acting is lacking and stiff - including Patric Knowles (which I never expected)!

Everything happens over a stolen moonstone in a rather large mansion with several people visiting Sir John Verinder's home. The film is pretty predictable for the most part.

Well, I acquired this film in a 50-Mysteries Pack so it's not to bad for the pack deal but it's not a movie I'd watch over and over (one time watching is enough) - it's just one that is a part of the 50-pack.

3/10
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