Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Essential Cinema - 26

The Seventh Victim

Tom Conway
Jean Brooks
Isabel Jewell
Kim Hunter
Evelyn Brent
Erford Gage
Ben Bard
Hugh Beaumont

Mark Robson

DeWitt Bodeen
Charles O'Neal

Nicholas Musuraca

SYNOPSIS: A young orphan in a boarding school leaves to find her older sister, who has mysteriously disappeared.

CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER: Uncovering the lives of others and the fear in finding things you never expected. A psychological thriller that is very subtle in tone and feel.

This is one in a series of films produced by Val Lewton for RKO pictures. Lewton's work is supposed to have a hint of terror and fear. I have the entire collection of Lewton's work and this is the first one of the series that I have screened.

This is a short film (only 71 minutes) that is full of film noir imagery, with light streaming through venitian blinds, dark hallways and alleys with long shadows.

This is a good example of how entertaining cinema can be without all the bells and whistles that are thrown into films these days. The viewers interest is held by the writing and the imagery. There is a tension and anxiety in this film that is always just beneath the surface and the ending is not predictable until you reach it. And it is a strange ending, to say the least.

The actors are all competent in this film and it is fun to watch Hugh Beaumont (Leave It To Beaver's dad) acting in a dark psychological thriller.

It is films such as this that makes me lament the current state of cinema in America. Like the "Maltese Falcon" and "Out of the Past", this film shows a world that was more hip, dark, intriguing, dangerous and exicting, than anything the youth of today could ever imagine.