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Damaged Lives

USA 1933
produced by
J.J. Allen, Maxwell Cohn, Nat Cohn for Weldon Pictures
directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
starring Diane Sinclair, Lyman Williams, Charlotte Merriam, Marceline Day, Jason Robards sr, Harry Myers, Murray Kinnell, George Irving, Cecilia Parker, Almeda Fowler, Harrison Greene, Harry Semels
screenplay by Donald Davis, Edgar G. Ulmer, based on a play by Eugène Brieux

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Everything seems to be perfect in Donald Bradley's (Lyman Williams) life: His dad (George Irving) has just made him vice president of his shipping company, and he has a lovely girlfriend, Joan (Diane Sinclair), who loves him very much. Then, at a business meeting, he meets pretty young Elise (Charlotte Merriam), and they get on a bit too well together, and after a tour through the speakeasies of town, they land in bed together ...

After this encounter, Donald does the right thing: He confesses everything to Joan, and since she claims she still loves him and forgives him, he pushes ahead their marriage and doesn't even think about Elise anymore ... until she calls him, forces him to meet her, and tells him he has contracted syphillis from her - it wasn't her fault or her intention, but fact is fact ... After this confession she shoots herself.

Donald's first reaction is denial, but his friend, physician Bill (Jason Robards sr) finds out anyhow and sends him and his wife - who has contracted the disease from Donald of course - to a specialist (Murray Kinnell), who opens their eyes to the horrors of syphilis and urges them to undergo treatment, especially since Joan is carrying a baby. This all throws Joan into a depression, so much so that she tries to kill herself, her unborn child and her husband by turning on the gas in their apartment, and Donald can only just keep her from succeeding. It's only when right after this episode a pregnant friend of Joan calls with a silly question that she puts her own problems into perspective and the film ends on a laugh.


Edgar G.Ulmer's first US-American film, a typical 1930's style veneral disease scare film, was certainly no masterpiece - but compared to similar films by other directors, it's actually pretty good: Though made on a low budget and based on a splay, it shows nothing of the staginess and directorial neglect prevalent in the genre, instead the camerawork is fluent, the film is well-paced, and a focus on drama rather than message keeps the film from becoming ridiculous. That said, one simply can't denie the very blunt plot and the below average cast - but as I said, the film is no masterpiece.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD