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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bluebeard (1944)

Many horror films delve into legends about infamous people for the kernel of an idea for their stories.  Cannibals, monsters, and serial killers are peppered throughout the history of horror cinema...

Gaston is a puppeteer in Paris during a rash of murders by a psychotic madman named "Bluebeard".  When Gaston meets Lucille, he believes that he's found happiness... but soon matters take a dark turn, and Gaston's happines could turn to murder...

This 1944 black and white suspense thriller has a lot going for it.  The story, is straightforward, and strong enough to keep you interested- even though you know who the killer is from the start.  It's still engaging to watch the events unfold.

The acting isn't bad- not great, but still enjoyable.  John Carradine does a great job in the role of the troubled Gaston, while Jean Parker was great as Lucille.  Carradine brings a nice touch of pathos to the character, while maintaining the feeling that there is something seriously wrong with the Gaston.  He also provides a couple of excellent examples of "crazy eyes" just before commiting a murder.  I also quite enjoyed Emmet Lynn as the old soldier that assists Gaston with his puppet shows.  Ludwig Stossel did a good job of portraying the art dealer Lamarte, while I found that I didn't enjoy Nils Asther as Inspector Lefevre.  For a film taking place in Paris, there is a distinct lack of French accents.

The character of Gaston was crazy, but was portrayed as being generally likable- with the added virtue of not wanting to kill, and tries to fight that compulsion throughout the movie.  He was complex, well formed, and believable.   Lucille is also likable, but not as well formed, or interesting as Gaston.  In fact, none of the characters are as deep as Gaston, and at times they feel as if they are just added to the story to slowly push Gaston to murder again.  The only character I found annoying though was Inspector Lefevre.  I just found him a little insincere.

There is some really good examples of camera work in this film.  The director uses light and dark beautifully in many of the shots to create a great mood to the scene.  One shot- of puppet shadows cast on the way was just a great shot in my opinion.  While there is nothing super creative on display in regards to camera movement, the angles, framing, and editing is still quite effective to tell the story.  I thought the puppet opera at the start of "Bluebeard" was a wonderful scene, even if it didn't necessarily have any serious impact on the story.  I also really liked how it felt like there were some silent movie elements and techniques used throughout the movie.  They were a great touch.

Personally, I think "Bluebeard" was a great way to kick off "Terrorpolooza 2012", and is a movie I would re-watch on a dark night, and recommend to fans of older suspense/thrillers.  I'm placing this movie in "The Good".

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