A secret society of hooded criminals known as The Crooked Circle meets in a dank basement where they plan their devious acts. Meanwhile The Sphinx Club; a group of amateur sleuths, make a pact to bring The Crooked Circle to justice. When they put one of the Circle’s members behind bars, the evil clan declares war on the fledgling detectives.
Although the idea of a club of detectives trying to crack down on an underground society of criminals has potential, The Crooked Circle squanders it’s initial premise rather quickly. The biggest problem is that none of The Sphinx Club members really become memorable characters. The lone exception is the psychic swami dude. He’s pretty cool but all the other guys are more or less interchangeable.
Director H. Bruce Humberstone films The Crooked Circle’s secret meetings with lots of creepy atmosphere but is unable to give the rest of the film the same kind of kick. After a decent first act, the flick devolves into a ho-hum Old Dark House mystery. You also have to contend with painfully unfunny comic relief; led by the ever-so annoying Zazu Pitts. She plays the dumb housekeeper that whines like Olive Oyl and gets on your damn nerves super fast. You’ll wish The Crooked Circle made her their first victim.
Humberstone later went on to helm several Charlie Chan mysteries.