Movie Review: Pillow of Death (1945)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1945 murder mystery starring Lon Chaney Jr. and Brenda Joyce.

Synopsis: Attorney Wayne Fletcher is rumored to be having an affair with his secretary Donna Kincaid. So, when his wife, Vivian, is found murdered, he becomes the primary suspect. However, while he had the most to gain from her death, a suspicious psychic, a stalker and a houseful of eccentric family members complicates the investigation, especially when there are other deaths.


I recorded this movie some time ago but never had a chance to watch it. I finally had some free time yesterday evening and, mostly to free up the space on my DVR, decided to put it on. As it turns out, it was a halfway decent movie.

The thing that ultimately impressed me about this movie was the murder mystery. A lot of times with classic films like this, the mystery is a little too easy to figure out or, in way too many cases, the film actually reveals the killer early on. In this case, even though Wayne (Chaney Jr) seemed to be the most likely suspect, there were quite a few others that were behaving suspiciously.

This was especially true of the psychic, Julian (Bromberg), who seemed to be trying a little too hard to point the police in Wayne's direction and convince his deceased wife's family members he was a cold-blooded killer. I, personally, thought he was a red herring. But, as the movie progressed and revealed a little more about him, I did have my doubts about that theory.

Further complicating things was Wayne hearing his wife's voice and the discovery her body was missing. This, at minimum, made me wonder if someone was trying to mess with Wayne and also had me questioning whether or not she was actually dead (though I wasn't certain how she would have been able to fool the police, etc.). As it turns out, I ended up being correct when I guessed who the killer was. But, stuff like this did have me occasionally second-guessing myself.

My only real complaint about this film is i thought the ending left a few too many loose ends, especially when it came to some of the other characters. In the interest of not giving away too many spoilers, let's just say the police find the murderer but completely ignore at least two others who were arguably mentally unhinged enough to also justify being put behind bars or in a mental institution. It wasn't a huge deal but it just felt like the ending was a little incomplete as a result of this.

Dead Man's Eyes/Pillow of Death [VHS]

2 Films in the Inner Sanctum Series: Dead Man's Eyes (1944) Pillow of Death (1945)

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Final Opinion

The ending needed a little work but, overall, I thought this was a decent murder mystery. I would definitely recommend taking the time to watch it.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/18/2019, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/22/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
The library system here does not include this film among its DVD collections. So it's an old film that I just won't get around to seeing on a library card.

How would this film fare as a remake in color?

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