Seven Keys to Baldpate


1h 4m 1947
Seven Keys to Baldpate

Brief Synopsis

A mystery writer runs into the real thing when he holes up at a deserted inn.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1, 1947
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 30 Jul 1947
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers (Indianapolis, 1913) and the play of the same name by George M. Cohan (New York, 22 Sep 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

When mystery writer Kenneth Magee disembarks at the Asquewan Junction train station during a driving blizzard, attractive Mary Jordan warns him not to go to Baldpate Inn, where he is planning to write his latest book. Ignoring Mary's advice, Magee, who has wagered Bentley, Baldpate's owner, $5,000 that he can write a mystery in twenty-four hours, makes his way to the darkened inn. There he is greeted by Cargan, a sinister-looking man who claims to be the caretaker. As Bentley had given him what he believed to be the inn's only key, Magee is surprised by Cargan's presence and is even more surprised when Mary lets herself in with a third key. A few minutes later, Magee stumbles upon Pete, a woman-hating hermit, snooping around in his room. Connie Lane then arrives at the inn with a fourth key and introduces herself as Cargan's niece. As soon as Magee is out of hearing range, however, Connie corners Cargan and demands her share of the "payoff." Magee then sees Mary slip through a secret wall panel in the second-floor hallway and listens as she telephones Bentley in New York to report that their plan to distract him is working well. After an amused Magee returns to work, Mary learns from Bentley that Cargan is not the caretaker. Suddenly concerned, Mary tries to telephone the police, but discovers that the line is dead. Mary accuses Cargan of cutting the lines, a scene that is witnessed by Magee, who assumes that they are both performing for his benefit. At that moment, a man calling himself Professor Bolton arrives with the fifth key and disappears into a guest room. Now frantic, Mary admits to Magee that she is Bentley's secretary, but he refuses to believe her warnings about Cargan. Later, Steve Bland, the owner of the sixth key, deposits a stash of stolen jewels in the inn's first-floor safe and demands fifty percent of the payoff money from Cargan. After the greedy Cargan shoots Bland and hides his body, Connie tries to break into the safe, but is interrupted by Bolton. Bolton then attempts to open the safe, but is stopped by Mary, who knows the combination. Before Mary can determine the safe's contents, however, Cargan intervenes. Mary then begs Magee to accompany her down the secret passageway, and at the bottom of the stairs, they stumble on Bland's corpse. A now terrified Magee begins constructing an escape rope made of sheets when Max Rogers and Hayden arrive with the seventh key. Cargan and Max, his cohort, demand that Hayden, the owner of the jewels, pay them $200,000 in exchange for the jewels, which they stole as part of Hayden's insurance scam. After Hayden hands over the money, Cargan and Max flee into the blizzard. Just as Magee is escaping down his rope, the crooks are waylaid by Bolton under Magee's window. During the ensuing chaos, Magee grabs Hayden's money, and Hayden is killed by Max and Cargan. As Magee and Mary are racing through the secret passageway with the money, Connie holds them up at gunpoint. Connie then hides the booty in a wood stove and tries to trick Max, her former lover, into helping her escape with it. When Max discovers that she is duping him, he kills her before she can reveal where she has hidden the money. Max and Cargan search frantically for the cash, while Pete, who, like Magee, knows its location, lights the stove and pretends to burn it. Enraged, Cargan knocks Magee and Pete out the window and then orders Mary to open the safe. At that moment, however, Bolton reveals himself to be an insurance investigator and stops Cargan at gunpoint. Unaware of Bolton's identity, Magee knocks him out. Max and Cargan are about to do away with Mary and Magee when Pete shows up with the police. The police doubt Pete's story, however, until Magee causes Connie's body to roll out of a closet. After the police arrest Cargan and Max, Magee embraces Mary and happily loses his bet.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Mystery
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 1, 1947
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 30 Jul 1947
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers (Indianapolis, 1913) and the play of the same name by George M. Cohan (New York, 22 Sep 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although Jack Haley and Boris Karloff were originally cast as the male leads in this film, both actors bowed out of the production shortly before filming began, according to Hollywood Reporter. Haley declined the part because he felt the role was inappropriate for him and willingly abrogated his RKO contract, under which he owed the studio another picture. Karloff left the production a day after Haley. Margaret Lindsay then replaced June Clayworth in the role of "Connie." Earl Derr Biggers' novel and George M. Cohan's play were also the source for four previous films, all titled Seven Keys to Baldpate: a 1917 Artcraft picture, directed by Hugh Ford and starring George M. Cohan (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3939); a 1925 Paramount release, directed by Fred Newmeyer and starring Douglas MacLean; a 1929 RKO release, directed by Reginald Barker and starring Richard Dix (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4920 and F2.4921); and a 1935 RKO production, directed by Willaim Hamilton and Edward Killy and starring Gene Raymond (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3974). In the first three versions, the action in the inn is revealed at the end to be either a dream or an enactment of "Magee's" novel.