Scared Stiff (1945 film)
|Directed by||Frank McDonald|
|Produced by||Maxwell Shane (associate producer)
William H. Pine (producer)
William C. Thomas (producer)
|Written by||Daniel Mainwaring (screenplay) and
Maxwell Shane (screenplay)
|Music by||Alexander Laszlo|
|Cinematography||Fred Jackman Jr.|
|Edited by||Henry Adams|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||22 June 1945|
|Running time||65 minutes|
Scared Stiff (1945) is an American film directed by Frank McDonald for Pine-Thomas Productions and released by Paramount Pictures. The film is also known as Treasure of Fear (American reissue title) and You'll Be The Death Of Me Yet.
Not the sharpest tool in the shed, chess reporter Larry Elliot is confronted with an ultimatum if he wants to keep his job as a newspaper reporter. He is forced to cover a big harvest festival held at a winery in Grape City. At the paper he is known to miss out on bigger stories to cover more trivial events of minor interest.
Larry begins with getting off the bus at the wrong stop, Grape Center instead of City. He has brought his girlfriend Sally Warren, who deals in antiques, to accompany him to the winery. Accidents rarely come alone, and the man sitting next to Larry on the bus is found murdered, holding a chess piece in his hand when the police find him. Of course Larry, who is a chess expert, is blamed for the killing.
All the bus passengers are held in custody at Grape Center awaiting the sheriff to arrive and start the murder investigation. Before he arrives, Sally finds an antique set of chess pieces she wants to acquire, and involves Larry in her quest to buy them. The set is said to have been the property of Kubla Khan in the 12th century, and were brought to the West by Marco Polo. Unfortunately the set is divided between the two twins owning the winery, Charles and Preston Waldeck, and they haven't spoken to each other in ten years.
Sally manages to acquire the white set pieces from Preston. When Larry is about to get the black pieces from Charles, both he and Charles are knocked out by an unknown attacker, who also steals the black set pieces.
The sheriff arrives to town, and starts conducting his investigation. The prime suspect is convicted murderer Deacon Markham, who is the man who first sold the antique chess set to the Waldeck brothers, after stealing it from its rightful owner. The theory is that Markham now wants the set back to sell it back to the forst owner and get the money he needs to escape the country.
Markham reveals himself when holding Larry at gunpoint in his hotel room to get the white pieces from the set. Markham and his accomplice Mink hide when Sally enters the room, telling Larry she hid the pieces in his room. Soon after another guest, Flo Rosson, also enters the room and reveals that she is an insurance agent tracking the gang led by Markham to retrieve the chess set. She also reveals that the man killed on the bus was part of this gang of thieves.
Oliver, the prodigal grandson of Preston Waldeck, throws a smoke bomb into the room, and everyone is forced out into the corridor. In the ensuing commotion, the white pieces are stolen.
Also at the inn is Preston's grandson, Oliver Waldeck, a precocious boy genius, and his mentor, Professor Wisner. Oliver frightens Larry with scary antics, including a pronouncement that the corpse's head was chopped off, and the placement in Larry's room of a cabbage adorned by a toupee.
Larry manages to find the black set, snooping about the winery, but is knocked unconscious down in the wine cellar. Sally is knocked out by Oliver's tutor, Professor Wisner, when she finds the other part of the set. Larry wakes up and unties himself. He goes on to chase the killer, who turns out to be Professor Wisner, and ultimately locates the dead body.
After finding the complete set, Sally is offered a reward of $1,000 for retrieving it by Flo. Larry phones his editor, explaining the events at Grape Center and how he caught the murderer. He then asks his editor if he should continue to the festival at Grape City or come back and get fired.
- Jack Haley as Larry Elliot
- Ann Savage as Sally Warren
- Barton MacLane as George "Deacon" Markham
- Veda Ann Borg as Flo Rosson
- Roger Pryor as Richardson
- George E. Stone as Mink
- Robert Emmett Keane as Prof. Wisner
- Lucien Littlefield as Charles Waldeck / Preston Waldeck
- Paul Hurst as Sheriff
- Arthur Aylesworth as Emerson Cooke
- Eily Malyon as Mrs. Cooke
- Buddy Swan as Oliver Waldeck
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- Scared Stiff at the Internet Movie Database
- Scared Stiff is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]