Made in 1935 but looking for all the world like it was one of the plethora of Old Dark House films made five years earlier this is a surprisingly lively entry into this sub-genre. Stormy night, a will to be read, greedy relatives, a killer on the loose and unexpected guests - all very familiar ingredients but handled here with a light touch. Helped along by a sprightly performance by Charley Grapewin and the ever welcome Wally Ford doing his best Wally Ford impersonation. If, like me, you love old dark house movies this one is above average.
|One Frightened Night|
050 CONDEMNED TO LIVE (1935) Directed by Frank Strayer. **
A vampire is loose in a European village. Strayer's film is remarkably similar to his earlier THE VAMPIRE BAT but where BAT was fast paced and had a sense of humour CONDEMNED is static, humourless and beset by and over wordy script and dull performances by the leads - only Misch Auer making anything of this role as a loyal hunchback. A curiousity but a dull one.
|Condemned to Live|
051 THE BLACK ANGEL (1946) Directed by Roy William Neill ***
Neill, best remembered fot the Universal Sherlock Holmes series with Rathbone, here turns in a neat and atmospheric noir based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich. Good performances from the main players - Dan Duryea (who not only was the Woolrich actor par excellence by a friend of the writer), June Vincent, Peter Lorre and Broderick Crawford. The plot may seem a bit familiar (Woolrich's THE PHANTOM LADY springs to mind) but it has nice twist in the tail. Watch for the great camera move at the beginning - previously exploited by both King Vidor and Orson Welles and later by both Hitchcock and Chabrol, proving what goes around comes around although Neill executes it superbly.
All these films can be viewed in their entirety on You Tube.