Tuesday, December 04, 2001


This is a real oddity--a B-movie film noir directed by Edgar G. Ulmer (THE BLACK CAT, DETOUR) using HAMLET as its inspiration, with layers of Freudian subtext (some on the surface, some not). Produced by PRC, it's certainly one of the most interesting Poverty Row studio movies I've ever seen, and I enjoyed it more than the well-regarded DETOUR, though it's not as exciting and off-the-wall as that movie. James Lydon, who played Henry Aldrich in the 40's and went on to appear in LIFE WITH FATHER a couple years later, plays the Hamlet character, a college student whose father, a judge, dies under suspicious circumstances in a car accident. If you know HAMLET, you know what's next--his mother is romanced by a slick and somewhat mysterious fellow (Warren William) and the son, egged on by a possibly supernatural event (in this case, a dream), suspects that William is responsible for his father's death and is up to no good now. The film even incorporates Hamlet's feigned insanity. There are friends and a girlfriend, though they don't really resemble any specific characters from Shakespeare. For a B-movie, it looks pretty good with some atmospheric camerawork helping to balance out the cheap-looking sets, although the acting leaves something to be desired, especially on Lydon's part. William, however, is very good, and amazingly he barely looks a day older than he did in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. But then he always looked older than his years. One of my favorite unsung supporting actors, Regis Toomey, has a fairly substantial role as an avuncular friend of Lydon's.