(1939, US, 73 min, b/w) Dir Albert S. Rogell. Cast Paul Fix, Claire Trevor, Bela Lugosi.
The notion with the Skull and Jones series – as popularized by Generation X viewers of the nineties such as Quentin Tarantino – is that Jones himself is insane, that Skull isn’t talking but that Jones is in fact a great detective throwing his voice into it. This theory is given credence in this, the third in the series (and the only one with a miscast Paul Fix, best known as a Western actor), where in the execution of his detective duties Jones finds himself locked in an asylum, hallucinating his cranial companion in his moonlit cell. Of course he escapes with the help of his knock-out socialite friend Tracey (Claire Trevor in a slinky silk number and ill-advised heels) and uncovers the warden’s dastardly plot to exploit the mad for his own financial gain via faux spectral apparitions. Lugosi’s casting as said warden makes the third act reveal a bit of a foregone conclusion but this is a fun romp with its eerie moments nonetheless.