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Strange Illusion

USA 1945
produced by
Leon Fromkess for PRC
directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
starring Jimmy Lydon, Warren William, Sally Eilers, Regis Toomey, Charles Arnt, George Reed, Jayne Hazard, Jimmy Clark, Mary McLeod, Pierre Watkin, Sonia Sorel, John Hamilton, Victor Potel, George Sherwood, Gene Roth, Edmund Cobb, Charles Wagenheim
screenplay by Adele Comandini, based on a story by Fritz Rotter

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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On a fishing trip, young Paul Cartwright (Jimmy Lydon) has weird dreams that include an evil man trying to replace his deceased father, the Judge, his sister getting a bracelet as a present, & a terrible accident - just like the accident his father died in ...

When he comes home to his mother (Sally Eilers) & sister Dorothy (Jayne Hazard), he sees part of his nightmare has come true, as his mother has a new lover, Brett Curtis (Warren William), who has indeed given his sister a bracelet - coincidence ?

He soon starts some investigations on Curtis' background, with only the family's doctor Vincent (Regis Toomey) to confide in, everybody else thinks it's just oedipal jealousy triggered by Paul's father's premature death.

Curtis' background however seems to be solid enough, & by the looks of it, there's nothing to worry about ... if there wasn't some file about a master criminal Paul had found in his his father's study, a criminal who has specialized in marrying & killing rich women & similar schemes. The connection seems to be weak, but Paul decides to follow up on it ...

& of course he is right, but Curtis is no fool neither, & he confers with his partner in crime, psychiatrist Muhlbach (Charles Arnt) on how to get rid of the boy - at least for a while ... & since Muhlbach runs a sanitarium & Paul seems a ltitle strained anyway (though he has every reason to be), why not try to make him a patient.

When Muhlbach suggests this at first, Paul is underwstandably furious, but after giving it some thought, he figures it might be for the best, since in the sanitarium he might be able to find out a thing or 2 - as long as he has doc Vincent as a line to the outside ...

& indeed, in the sanitarium Paul finds the decisive clue that leads to the truck with which Paul's father the Judge was run over, & that truck leads diorectly to Curtis & Muhlbach. But after having found out all of this, Paul rather foolishly returns to the sanitarium & is promptly locked up by Muhlbach (but manages to escape anyways), while Curtis has gone to the offensive & pressures Paul's mother into marrying him, which she finally agrees to do the following day ... which might be to late, but then Curtis seizes a golden opportunity to take Paul's innocent sister hostage, & utlimately tries to rape her (as teenage girls have always been his weakness) when Paul steps in & saves her before the police, whom doc Vince ahs since informed, arrive at the scene & shoot Curtis.


Based on an interesting story & script that despite some leaps of reason & many a twist & turn stays stringent throughout,  this is a nice little noir, in which director Ulmer once again proves his ability to transcend the budgetary restrictions that PRC had to impose on him, & make a high-class crime melodram ... which ultimately proves of course that not money but talent makes a good movie.


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