The Dark Eyes of London is a 1939 British horror film directed by Walter Summers and starring Béla Lugosi, Hugh Williams and Greta Gynt. The film is an adaptation of the 1924 novel of the same name by Edgar Wallace. The film is about a scientist named Dr. Orloff who commits a series of murders for insurance money, while periodically disguising himself as the blind manager of a charity to further his scheme.
It was released in November 1939 in Britain, where it became the first British film to receive the “H” rating meaning “Horrific for Public Exhibition” (persons aged 16 or above will only be admitted). It was released in the United States in 1940 by Monogram Pictures under the title The Human Monster.
In London, Dr. Orloff (Bela Lugosi) runs a life insurance agency where he loans money on his customers’ policies. Scotland Yard begins finding bodies in the Thames River, all of them insured by Orloff with the Dearborn Home for the Blind as their sole beneficiary. This charity Home, which Orloff sponsors and serves as its medical advisor, is located in a dilapidated former warehouse abutting the Thames. One of the dead men has a daughter named Diane (Greta Gynt) for whom Orloff obtains employment at the Home as seeing-person secretary to the soft-spoken, also blind, Dearborn. Suspicions begin to arise surrounding Dearborn and Orloff in relation to the dead bodies, and it becomes clear to the audience that Dearborn is really Orloff, disguised as to both face and voice. After Diane finds one of her father’s cufflinks at the Home, Orloff sends his henchman Jake (Wilfred Walter), a deformed blind resident of the Home, to kill Diane who has found out too much about them but she eludes him with the help of the young police inspector on the case. Confronted by Diane, Dearborn removes his disguise to show himself as Orloff, carries her to the warehouse’s loft where he has been killing his victims by dumping them into a vat of river water charged with electricity, puts her in a straight-jacket and calls for Jake to finish the job of killing her in like manner. Jake refuses as he has found out that Orloff has sadistically deafened his one friend, also blind, before killing him. Jake turns on Orloff, Orloff shoots Jake, but Jake perseveres, captures Orloff and throws him out of a loading door, to sink into the river mud-flats below. The inspector breaks in and frees Diane as Jake dies of his wounds.
Bela Lugosi as Dr. Feodor Orloff
Hugh Williams as Det. Insp. Larry Holt
Greta Gynt as Diana Stuart
Edmon Ryan as Lieutenant Patrick O’Reilly
Wilfred Walter as Jake
Alexander Field as Fred Grogan
May Hallatt as Police Constable Griggs
Bryan Herbert as Police Sgt. Walsh
Arthur E. Owen as Dumb Lou
Charles Penrose as Morrison, undercover detective
Gerald Pring as Henry Stuart
Philip Stewart as Scotland Yard Detective
George Street as Commisioner, Scotland Yard
Julie Suedo as Orloff’s Secretary