THE SPANISH CAPE MYSTERY is a 1935 American mystery movie directed by Lewis D. Collins. It stars Donald Cook  (although he does not get top billing), Helen Twelvetrees, and Berton Churchill. It is based on a novel of the same name by Ellery Queen.


Donald Cook as Ellery Queen

Helen Twelvetrees as Stella Godfrey

Berton Churchill as Judge Macklin

Frank Sheridan as Walter Godfrey

Harry Stubbs as Sheriff Moley

Guy Usher as Inspector Queen

Betty Blythe as Mrs. Godfrey

Mystery writer and amateur detective Ellery Queen travels to sunny California with his friend Judge Macklin for a relaxing vacation at a rented cabin.

Before they can even unpack they discover an abducted girl and get caught up in kidnapping and multiple murders involving the Godfrey family living in the Spanish Cape estate nearby.

The bodies keep dropping and the local police suspect everyone in the Godfrey household.

While romancing Stella Godfrey the kidnaped girl, Ellery comes to the rescue and solves the mystery making America once again safe for Mom, apple pie, and the flag.

At the time this movie was made Helen Twelvetrees was a bigger name and therefore got top billing even though it is an Ellery Queen movie and Donald Cook is playing Ellery Queen.

This is the very first Ellery Queen movie ever made.


I am not familiar with any of the players in this movie and that has never happened to me before. I am a huge movie buff and my interests include all types of movies dating back to the silent era. Generally speaking when I watch a film, even an old film like this one, I generally see one or two familiar faces. Not this time. No familiar faces and I knew nothing about Helen Twelvetrees, Donald Cook, or Berton Churchill. Now that is no way disparaging to this film. It’s not their fault I didn’t know anyone and you can’t take away points for that. It just bugged me!

The wrap up and denouement at the end was a little too contrite. It was too quick, too pat, and too painless. I’m not going to give the ending away but it should have been more painful and more emotional.

I protest that Helen Twelvetrees got a higher billing than Donald Cook – the actor playing Ellery Queen. You cannot treat my Ellery Queen this way. I shall write to my congressman. I shall boycott the theaters. I shall picket the Capitol. Errr . . . on second thought scratch that last one and let’s forget the whole thing.


I love Donald Cook as Ellery Queen. Helen Twelvetrees may have top billing but he walks away with the movie.

I like the quick pace of these old movies. There is no filler just meat.


If you are a mystery fan – and who isn’t a mystery fan? – and you like old school black and white movies with tight scripts then this is the movie for you. I did not know this movie existed. I happened to be surfing YouTube when I came across this movie and started watching it. I didn’t even know it was an Ellery Queen movie – let alone that it was the first of his movies. Imagine my delight in discovering this film – a delight I’m now sharing with you. I fully recommend this movie and I know you will not be disappointed.

In our rating scale I give this film three and a half Gray Geeks.

That’s it for now mi compadres. It is time for me to mosey on down the road. I thank you for letting me take up some of your time. I hope you had fun because I sure did. Until next time remember this – never tug on Superman’s cape, never spit in the wind, and never pull the mask off the Lone Ranger. Adios.

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