Doctor Renault’s Secret is a 1942 American horror film produced by 20th Century Fox and directed by Harry Lachman from a screenplay by William Bruckner and Robert F. Metzler. It is based on the story Balaoo by Gaston Leroux (author of The Phantom of the Opera) which was adapted as a film in 1913 and again as the 1927 “lost” film The Wizard. It stars J. Carrol Naish (The Monster Maker), Shepperd Strudwick, Lynne Roberts and George Zucco.
A young doctor named Larry Forbes (Strudwick) arrives in a French village in order to wed the niece of prominent local doctor, Doctor Renault (Zucco).
Doctor Forbes learns from the innkeeper that a storm has washed out the bridge to Renault’s house and he ends up spending the night at the inn. There he meets Doctor Renault’s strangely deformed man servant, Noel (J. Carrol Naish). It is during the night that the first of the murders occurs. Another tourist takes the room meant for him and is killed mysteriously…
“It features some amazingly solid acting, especially from Strudwick and Naish, and even George Zucco puts in a credible, restrained (by his standards, anyway) performance. The script does a good job of juxtaposing Noel’s and Rogell’s criminal activities, and with a running time in the 60-minute class, the film moves along at a good, steady clip.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Doctor Renault’s Secret may be more charm than actual suspense, but it’s a pleasant and breezy watch, with a couple of good performances. It’s maybe not a great classic, but it’s certainly worth a look, especially if you’re largely unfamiliar with Naish, or are just looking for a good movie about a not-so-mad ape man.” Orrin Grey, Innsmouth Free Press
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“J. Carrol Naish’s performance shares considerable credit for making Noel such a strongly sympathetic character. Like Karloff, Naish is able to express a depth of woundedness and loneliness through the make-up and general oddness of the character that is genuinely touching.” Jared Roberts, Lair of the Boyg
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