Love from a Stranger

Love from a Stranger features Basil Rathbone as a very odd Bluebeard indeed, so iconoclastic he brings to mind Buster Keaton frantically expunging eyes in Samuel Beckett’s Film (dir. Alan Schneider). There is music by Benjamin Britten in passing, and the whole is from a play adaptation of an Agatha Christie enchantingly titled “Philomel Cottage”.


Son of Frankenstein

This capital work of a most prodigious director takes into account Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Baron Wolf von Frankenstein is a family man seeking to vindicate his father for a servant’s blunder. To him Ygor, hanged for bodysnatching but not killed. The monster, struck by lightning, is not dead but sleepeth. A new name is found for Heinrich Frankenstein’s discovery, cosmic rays. The monster’s blood is at war with itself viewed microscopically (cf. Kenton’s House of Dracula). Frankenstein’s laboratory, latterly in ruins, was built on Roman sulfur baths now superheated.

Stanley Kubrick was so impressed he made use of material he found here in at least four films. Inspector Krogh’s right arm and Stroheim impression are borrowed by Dr. Strangelove, the breakfast colloquy with young Peter is signally a basis of Dr. Floyd’s picturephone call in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the monster with Frankenstein’s implements holding open its left eye is young Alex in A Clockwork Orange, and the general milieu closes on The Shining as Frankenstein bids to send his wife and son away to safety in Brussels while Krogh questions the boy about the monster.

It perishes in the flaming mud beneath the laboratory, which along with the castle is presented by the departing baron to the villagers of Frankenstein, who open the film determined to balk him.

The monster is instrumental in Ygor’s plan to kill the eight jurors who condemned him.

Rathbone’s genius with rapid dialogue is useful, Karloff is dramatically eloquent, Lugosi has a brilliant part, Atwill sticks darts for convenience’s sake into that stiff yet pliable arm as he begins a game with the baron.


The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The literary theme is arranged as a cinematic investigation conducted by Brother Juniper (with voiceover narration at times), not unlike Mr. Arkadin (Confidential Report, dir. Orson Welles), say, and there is Akim Tamiroff as Uncle Pio, who remembers his artistic disciple La Perricholi (Micaela Villegas, Offenbach’s La Périchole) singing “in the streets for a living,” and there is her song stating the essence of the matter,

I can tell you just where he’ll be,

all day long there he’ll be,

talking to his donkey.


It is sad to be a donkey,

very sad to be a donkey;

you are sat on that’s why it is—

you can’t deny it is

sad to be a donkey.

Dimitri Tiomkin did not win the Oscar that year in the Second World War (it went to Max Steiner for Since You Went Away, dir. John Cromwell).

Cf. Lubitsch’s Rosita, Renoir’s Le Carrosse d’or.

Leonard Maltin, “a slow-moving film.TV Guide, “stagey... obvious... cheap... crude... stilted... forgettable.Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “a ponderous treatment”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “heavy weather”.


Captain Kidd

The pirate brood seen to perfection, claiming responsibility in the state and among the landed gentry as guardians of the public order and protectors of wealth, thieves and murderers all.

A little theme rises out of Howard’s Fire Over England, Crowther couldn’t see it really happening, Variety missed the point of casting Barbara Britton opposite Charles Laughton et al. for the face she bears.