THE CROOKED CIRCLE. World Wide, 1932. Ben Lyon, Zasu Pitts, James Gleason, Irene Purcell, Burton Churchill, Frank Reicher, Tom Kennedy. Director: H. Bruce Humberstone. Shown at Cinefest 19, Syracuse NY, March 1999.

   This hit all the right buttons for me, although some people felt it was one of the worst films of the weekend. Lyon, Churchill and Karns are members of the Sphinx Club, a group of amateur criminologists. Their opposite number is The Hooded Circle, a gang of masked villains, who appear to have infiltrated the Sphinx Club and to be poised to eliminate their competition.

   Much of the action takes place in an old house, reputed to be haunted, and it has the requisite sliding panels, chairs that dump occupant down chutes, and a clock that strikes 13 times.

   Almost nobody is what he (or she) appears to be, and you may not care, but I had a good time and I would like to think I wasn’t the only one. Yes, Zasu flutters like an inebriated butterfly, but Gleason’s dry style manages to provide something of a tonic.