You Do Not Want to Sleep On the… – Pillow of Death (1945)

pillow of death
The sixth and final picture to fall under the Inner Sanctum Mystery banner is one that actually features a mystery as Lon Chaney’s character Wayne Fletcher is under investigation for the murder of his wife. Things look bad for Fletcher as he was just about to ask his wife for a divorce so that he might marry his secretary played by Brenda Joyce. The only thing that might possibly save him is the fact that other people are being murdered in the same way, yet that fact might also condemn him. What follows is a lot of tension and suspicion as Chaney and Joyce try to find out who is behind it all.

pillow of death2Like all of the movies in this series, this one was enjoyable enough though also like all of them, it never rose to the level of greatness. Next to Strange Confession, this was perhaps the best of the lot with some palpable suspense to keep you hooked and some good acting by Chaney. In fact, out of all of the films, this was one of Chaney’s best. Perhaps because of the rapid schedule they were released and the fact that he exercised that acting muscle regularly helped, but whatever the case might be, Chaney delivered a very solid performance. Much like she did in Strange Confession in which she teamed up with Chaney, Brenda Joyce would do so here and star as the female lead. She was just as good as Chaney and the two, while never sharing the screen again, seemed to have an easy relationship as they had a good chemistry in the picture. One of the most interesting aspects of this series is that in nearly every film including this one, Chaney is a man whom all the ladies love, this time of course the woman being Joyce. Whether that was a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers or the studio or it simply made for a good script, it becomes just a little repetitive.

While the mystery in this film is nothing truly exceptional, it is told well which is often more important than doing something differently or original. So though the story is fairly standard, it does keep you hooked due to the strong performances of the cast and it does keep you guessing as to who the culprit really is. Dwight V. Babcock and George Bricker did a fairly decent job on the script and Wallace Fox a sound effort in bringing it to the screen. The Inner Sanctum Mysteries could have been a lot better, even when working on a budget afforded a B picture yet overall, they are still worth watching with Pillow of Death being a nice endcap to them all.

3 out of 5
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