Sunday, February 24, 2019

Film Noir classic “Mystery Street” to screen at Glessner House Museum March 29

The film noir classic Mystery Street (1950) will screen at Glessner House Museum, 1800 S. Prairie Ave., on March 29 at 7 p.m. The screening is part of the Glessner House’s birthday celebration for Frances (Fanny) Glessner Lee, a multi-day celebration of her life and pioneering work in the field of forensic science.

Glessner Lee was instrumental in launching the field of forensic science through her endowment of the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard Medical School in 1932 (the first in the country). Mystery Street is the first film to feature the role of forensics in the solving of crimes, specifically murder and unexplained deaths.
Lobby card for Mystery Street
Oak Park, Illinois native, John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven – 1960, The Great Escape – 1963) directed Mystery Street. It earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story for Leonard Spigelgass. The film was well received by critics in 1950 and today it is considered a classic in the film noir genre. Mystery Street follows the murder of a young woman whose decomposed body is identified with the help of a forensics expert at Harvard University. Locations featured in the film include Harvard Medical School in Roxbury, Massachusetts and Harvard University in Cambridge. The film stars Ricardo Montalban as State Police Lt. Peter Morales assigned to the case.

Filmed mostly on location in Boston by cinematographer John Alton (Father of the Bride – 1950, Elmer Gantry – 1960) the film has a grittiness that studio-bound productions from that period lacked. Alton won an Academy Award for cinematography for his filming of the ballet sequence in An American in Paris (1951) and wrote Painting with Light (1949), which was one of the first books written by a studio cinematographer.
Dr. McAdoo (Bruce Bennett), second from left, and Lt. Morales (Montalban) examine skeletal remains of the victim
Time magazine said that “…Director John Sturges and Scripters Sydney Boehm and Richard Brooks have treated the picture with such taste and craftsmanship that it is just about perfect.” The New York Times noted that Montalban gives a performance that is “natural and unassuming.”

Tickets for this event are $15 per person, $12 for members. For more information on this event, click here.


A National Historic Landmark, Glessner House was designed by noted American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in 1887. It remains an internationally-known architectural treasure in Chicago. A radical departure from traditional Victorian architecture, the structure served as an inspiration to architects such as Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and the young Frank Lloyd Wright and helped redefine domestic architecture.

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