Inner Sanctum (1948) is a thriller about an ordinary man, Harold Dunlap (Charles Russell), who accidentally kills his fiancee during an argument at a train station, then goes on the lam in a small town. He ends up at a boarding house run by the elderly Thelma Mitchell (Nana Bryant) and occupied by the usual colorful small-town characters: a drunk, a failed doctor, a busybody, a sultry seductress -- and Thelma's daughter and grandson. Mike (Dale Belding) is a teenager who desperately wants to escape his small town hell -- and looks heavily embarrassed at being forced to wear a little kid's whirly-top beanie.
But she relents and permits a second rollaway bed to be installed.
I can't think of a good "real" explanation for Thelma's giddy match-making. A masculine role model?
Once they are in the bedroom, Harold undresses, giving us chest and basket shots unusual in film noir. Mike stares wide-eyed.
Ok, maybe Mike saw the accident earlier, and he wants to examine Harold's muscles to see if there's a telltale scar. But it looks very much like a gay teenager negotiating a crush on an older man.
Harold realizes that Mike knows too much, and decides to kill him. As they struggle, the tenants downstairs hear curious bumping noises from the bedroom, and wonder what's going on. "Oh, I'm sure they're all right," Thelma says with her knowing grin.
I have no "real" explanation for what she thinks is going on.
The movie ends with Mike saved and Harold turning himself in, and viewers scratching their heads, asking "Was it possible for anyone to be so completely unaware, even in 1948?"
Maybe not. There's not much information on Charles Russell or Dale Belding, but Nana Bryant, a seasoned theatrical actress, was certainly aware of the existence of gay people, and director Lew Landers often made movies with homoerotic subtexts.
You can watch the entire movie on youtube.