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The Sphinx

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A confirmed mute man is witnessed committing a murder in this sharply written who-done it.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ernie Adams, Luis Alberni, Hooper Atchley, Lionel Atwill, Jack Cheatham
  • Directors: Wilfred Lucas
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alpha Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 18, 2003
  • Run Time: 64 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008G8WT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,716 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sphinx" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2005
Format: DVD
In most cases, stopping to ask a good fellow for a light and to inquire as to the time is not the best of strategies for a murderer leaving the scene of the crime. In The Sphinx, though, it offers said murderer an iron-clad alibi. When a prominent stockbroker is killed, a janitor named Luigi is right there in position to be the perfect witness. He swears in court that he recognizes the defendant and makes a big deal over the fact that the guy stopped to chat with him. It looks like a slam dunk case for the prosecution. There's just one teensy little problem, however - the defendant, Jerome Breen (Lionel Atwill), is a deaf-mute, as any physician can certify. The cops come off looking pretty foolish for putting the guy on trial, especially since Jerome Breen is well-known as an all-around great guy and true humanitarian. Almost no one believed he was capable of cold-blooded murder to begin with.

One man who does still suspect Breen is Jack Burton (Theodore Newton), a - you guessed it - crime reporter who fancies himself to be quite the detective. Despite the fact that he's rather pompous and undeniably annoying, the police chief keeps letting him horn in on the big cases, and he did as much as anyone to finger Breen from the start. What really drives him up the wall, though, is the fact that his would-be girl, society columnist Jerry Crane (Shelia Terry), thinks the world of Breen and makes regular visits to his home as she works on a series of favorable articles about him. I think any of us would be a little put out to see our girl making nice-nice with a guy we suspect to be a devious, cold-blooded killer. I know I would. Burton is determined to get to the truth, and he manages to get the local police to keep Breen on their radar screens.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Clay Jr. on November 5, 2004
Format: DVD
This little thriller is an early effort of Monogram Pictures, sturdy purveyors of cost conscious film. Lionel Atwill stars as a deaf-mute accused of murder. As in most low budget efforts, unintentional humor is prevalent. Atwill uses sign language to communicate. He wiggles his fingers while holding his hands palms down at waist level. This makes it appear he is vigorously playing an invisible keyboard. Once or twice wouldn't be so bad, but this takes up time through much of the film. Only his assistant, a real red herring, can interpret Atwill's thoughts. Packaged as a horror flick, the little scenario is a murder mystery with typical plot twists. A snappy newspaper couple, '30s style, trade verbal barbs as they work to solve the mystery. Luigi the janitor swears the deaf mute spoke to him as he left the crime scene. This serves as comic relief and an intriguing plot twist. The DVD transfer is average. The audio is about the same. ;-)
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Format: DVD
The Sphinx, 1933 film

The story begins at the "Garfield Investment Company" when a man with a cigar leaves this office at 9pm. Then the janitor finds a body in this office! Death by strangulation says the police detective. Reporter Burton arrives, it is another stockbroker murder. [A dissatisfied investor?] Back at the office Burton talks to another reporter. A detective tells Burton that a suspect was arrested after the janitor recognized a photograph. Jerome Breen is an unlikely suspect, he contributed to charities. He is also a deaf mute. There is only one eyewitness, the man who spoke to him. Mr. Jenks, the servant, says Breen was at home. A doctor says Breen cannot speak or hear due to congenital nerve paralysis. This results in his acquittal. Reporter Gerry Crane will write a series of articles on Breen. [Humorous remarks are mixed into this drama.]

Reporter Gerry Crane visits Breen's home for dinner, and asks questions. There is a comic scene in a bar with witness Luigi; he never drinks whiskey. Mr. Werner visits Breen, then goes to see Burton at the police station to tell about his meeting tonight at 8:30pm. "Do you have the correct time?" Mrs. Werner faints! The police detective says "same as the others". The police question Breen, but he was at home. Police Inspector Riley noticed Breen's reaction to the piano keys. We learn about a secret room. Next morning we learn Riley was strangled in the night! Now Hogan has to solve five murders. He wonders if anyone else could be in danger. Gerry Crane has no fears. But Hogan will have Breen's house watched. Breen's servant sees the police and warns him. Gerry plays the piano and hits the right key! She screams at this discovery.

Burton and the police pound on the door. They call Hogan for help.
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Format: DVD
If someone asks you, "Do you happen to have the correct time?," you can be sure that, as soon as he leaves, you'll find around the corner, or in the next office, or in an upstairs bedroom, a corpse...brutally strangled. The problem is, the person who asked you the time is a deaf mute.

A serial killer has been prowling Gotham knocking off stockbrokers, and in the 63 minutes it takes to tell this story three deaths will occur, not counting the three that happened earlier. The suspect is Jerome Breen (Lionel Atwill), a wealthy stockbroker and a respected philanthropist. Witnesses swear he was the man who at each killing asked them the time. Yet doctors testify that Breen has been a deaf mute from birth, with a paralyzed larynx which is proven to be caused by a genetic defect. The cops can't lay a hand on him. Jack Berton (Theodore Newton), a hot-shot reporter, is determined to crack the case. Things get complicated when his girl friend at the paper, Jerry Crane (Sheila Terry), decides to write a series on Breen's life and good works. It's not long before she finds she likes Breen a lot...and he's showing interest in her. The climax comes with a twist and a feint, and involves Breen's ornate and lavish home, a piano with a deadened key, a sliding door, a hidden room, a suspicious butler, gun play and a poison ring. What more could you want in little more than an hour?

Not much more, I hope, because this is a fine example of a cheap B movie that delivers the goods. Yes, the two romantic leads are a bit clunky, but the secondary cast features amusing performances, especially by Detective Terence Aloysius Hogan (Paul Hurst) and Jinks the butler (Lucien Privet). Lionel Atwill as the deaf mute is who the movie is all about and he does a fine job.
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