Dr. Renault’s Secret (1942)


An American (John Shepperd) visits his fiancée (Lynne Roberts) and her father in their rural chateau at the same time a series of murders begins. The father’s brutish gardener with a criminal past is a prime suspect. And so is his socially awkward servant, an immigrant from Java who holds a childlike adoration for the bride-to-be. Dr. Renault’s Secret is Twentieth Century Fox’s attempt to cash in on Universal’s lucrative horror franchise at the time. The studio gives the production beautiful sets and cinematography, and puts a number of solid actors on the roster. George Zucco lends the title character convincing duplicity, turning a warm father figure into a obsessed mad man. The most moving performance comes from J. Carrol Naish as the immigrant servant who (spoiler alert!) isn’t quite who he seems to be. The biggest problem with the movie is that the doctor’s secret isn’t a well kept or original one, which robs this would-be thriller of mystery and suspense. Even still, the brief run-time and high production values make Dr. Renault’s Secret an easy watch.

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