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Bluebeard

USA 1944
produced by
Leon Fromkess for PRC
directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
starring John Carradine, Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Ludwig Stössel, George Pembroke, Teala Loring, Sonia Loren, Henry Kolker, Emmett Lynn, Isis Adrian, Patti McCarty, Carrie Devan, Anne Sterling, George Irving, Frank Darien, Harry Cording
story by Arnold Phillips, Werner H.Furst, screenplay by Pierre Gendron, music by Leo Erdody

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A serialkiller dubbed Bluebeard has 19th century Paris in his grip, and women (he preys exclusively on the female of the species) hardly dare to leave their homes at night anymore. Only Lucille (Jean Parker) seems to be more or less unfazed by the killer's threat, so much so that she one night insists to go to a puppet theatre just for amusement. At the show, Lucille soon befriends its owner Gaston (John Carradine), and since he needs new outfits for his puppets and she is a modiste, they agree to work together. She also wants him, an accomplished painter, to paint her, but he outright refuses ... and fortunately so, because what Lucille doesn't know is that Gaston is actually Bluebeard, and he has a habit of killing the women he has painted.

Eventually, the police stumble upon one of Gaston's paintings showing one of the murdered girls, and they immediately grow suspicious - but his art dealer Lamarte (Ludwig Stössel) feeds them some cock-and-bull story about not knowing the identity of the artist - even though he's Gaston's landlord, patron - and the only one who knows about his habit to kill his models. The cops don't buy Lanmarte's story so they send an undercover agent to Lamarte as a model who wants to be painted by Gaston - and incidently that model is Francine (Teala Loring), Lucille's sister. Francine's session with Gaston goes alright, until she recognizes him as her sister's puppeteer (he doesn't recognize her, which makes perfect sense on the movie), and he sees no other way but to kill her, and Lamarte as well, and all the precautions of the police cannot keep him from doing so or even cut off his escape via a secret passageway and the sewers.

Lucille recognizes the tie Francine was killed with as one of Gaston's, but rather than telling it to the police, she confronts him with this fact, and he confesses everything to her: That he once was an unsuccessful and mediocre artist, until he found a dying girl, Jeanette (Anne Sterling), whom he didn't only nurse back to health but also paint - and the resulting painting became his first masterpiece. It wasn't until later that Gaston learned that Jeanette was a prostitute, and in a fit of rage, he killed her. From then on, every woman he painted reminded him of Jeanette, and every time he felt the urge to kill his model (and went through with it) - so much so that he refused to paint, but got tricked into doing so time and again by Lamarte. That though was also the reason he didn't want to paint Lucille, because he has fallen in love with her.

When after his confession Lucille is shocked rather than overcome with love for him, Gaston tries to kill her too, but the police have caught up with him, chase him over the rooftops of Paris, and ultimately, he is shot and falls into the Seine, exactly where he formerly preferred to dispose of his victims.

 

A great little film by often ridiculed production company PRC, and proof that a very limited budget doesn't automatically result in a bad film is a good script is treated by a competent director - and Edgar G.Ulmer was one of the finest of his day. Here, and intelligently written serialkiller story is told in the style of a gothic, in a series of unusual yet subtle sets, carried by a great nuanced performance by John Carradine, supported by a cast of at least competent actors, each it seems in just the right role. And even though the lack of budget shows every now and again, there is no reason that could have been a much better film with higher production values.

Recommended!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD