Weird Woman   
Universal Pictures

Directed by Reginald Le Borg
Written by Brenda Weisberg 
Story Adaption by W. Scott Darling

An Oliver Drake Production

Released April 5, 1944

     The 2nd of the Inner Sanctum mysteries which are based on the mental, rather than physical, stress resulting in murder and mayhem.  

     Reared by natives of a South Sea island, Anne Gwynne marries professor Lon Chaney who brings her to the college town, along with charms and rituals to dispel evil spirits.


Evelyn Ankers slyly starts whispering campaign against Chaney and Miss Gwynne, resulting in a suicide and murder, in addition to intense mental confusion of the couple before Chaney figures solution through trapping of Miss Ankers into admitting her machinations.



Anne Gwynne & Elizabeth Russell in scene from
Inner Sanctum Mystery, Weird Woman

 


Cast:

Anne Gwynne ... Paula Clayton Reed

Lon Chaney

Evelyn Ankers

Phil Brown

Harry Hayden


Elizabeth Russell

Kay Harding

Ralph Morgan

Production:

Fritz Leiber, Jr.- based on his Inner Sanctum Mystery 

Brenda Weisberg- Screenwriter

W. Scott Darling- Story Adaption

Reginald Le Borg- Director 

Virgil Miller- Cinematographer 

Milton Caruth- Editor

Full Storyline

Monroe College professor Norman Reed (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is worried about the superstitious beliefs of his young bride Paula (Anne Gwynne), an orphan who was reared on a South Seas island by Laraua, the high voodoo priestess of Kauna-Ana-Ana. An old friend of her late father, Norman discovered Paula on the island, and the two then fell in love and returned to America.

While he is congratulated on his marriage and completion of a new book, Superstition: Reason and Fact , by many of his Monroe colleagues, Norman receives only bitter jealousy from librarian Ilona Carr. When Norman later rejects Ilona's adulterous advances, the librarian begins a campaign to destroy the professor's marriage. Ilona first sends love-struck college student Margaret Mercer to work for Norman, then tells Margaret's jealous boyfriend, David Jennings, that the professor has a special interest in the young girl.

Later, when Norman's book becomes a sensation, Ilona tells her friends that Paula is a "witch-wife" whose voodoo practices have led to the book's success. Most convinced of this is Evelyn Sawtelle, the wife of Millard Sawtelle, Norman's rival for the chairmanship of Monroe's sociology department. Later, Ilona discovers that Millard has stolen the basis of his new book from the unpublished thesis of a deceased student, and she falsely tells the meek professor that Norman intends to use this information against him.

That night, Norman follows Paula on her nightly pilgrimage to the local cemetery, where she practices her voodoo rituals. Norman catches Paula performing a ceremony over an effigy of Ilona, but he stops her before she can finish. They return home, where, despite Paula's warnings, he insists that they burn all her voodoo accouterments. Soon thereafter, Millard commits suicide, and the hysterical Evelyn accuses the Reeds of murder. After Millard's funeral, Paula warns Norman that they are now in danger from evil, as he has broken their "circle of immunity" by destroying her artifacts.

Later, Norman is forced to fire Margaret as his secretary when she makes her romantic intentions known, which leads to a brief fight between Norman and David. Paula, in turn, is tormented by death chants from an unknown caller. After Margaret and David falsely accuse Norman of sexual harassment, Grace Gunnison, the dean of women, suggests that Norman go to a gymnasium to work out his problems. He is confronted there by an armed David, and when the two men struggle over the gun, David is accidentally shot and critically wounded. After he is released on bail, Norman learns that Ilona is behind all the deceptions.

When David later dies in the hospital, Norman calls upon Evelyn to help him prove his innocence. That night, Evelyn calls Ilona to her home, telling the librarian that she was visited in a dream by her late husband, who told her that he died "because a woman lied," and that woman will be choked to death in thirteen days unless she confesses. The guilt-ridden Ilona slowly goes crazy over the next thirteen days.

 With minutes to go until Evelyn's "deadline," Ilona rushes to the Sawtelle home where she confesses all, only to learn that she has been tricked by Norman, Paula, Grace, Margaret and Evelyn. Unnerved, Ilona rushes out of the house, where she trips on the catwalk and is strangled to death by hanging vines, just as was predicted in the dream.


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