THE NINTH GUEST. Columbia, 1934. Donald Cook, Genevieve Tobin, Hardie Albright, Edward Ellis, Edwin Maxwell, Vince Barnett, Helen Flint, Samuel S. Hinds. Director: Roy William Neill. Shown at Cinefest #14, Syracuse NY, March 1994.

   The first movie to be given a midnight showing was The Ninth Guest, a literate mystery based on a novel by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning and originally published by the Mystery League in 1930 as The Invisible Host (a fact of which the writer of the program notes left the audience blissfully unaware).

   The novel and film with the familiar plot device of killing off guests invited for a party/weekend in the country/reading of a will predates the Christie novel And Then There Were None (1939) and the film version of the same title (1945) by nine and eleven years respectively, but The Ninth Guest film although it does not have the casting luster of René Clair’s And Then There Were None, is a stylish, moody thriller that deserved better scheduling than the midnight showing it received.