Salkow’s tender young hero is aced out of an important test flight by a veteran of the AEF biplanes, the machine is faulty (cf. Koster’s No Highway).
The two are father and son, the former grounded after a deadly crash.
The screenwriter also did the job for Milestone’s Halls of Montezuma.
Pat O’Brien and Glenn Ford lead the cast in fine, subtle acting. Special attention must be given to Evelyn Keyes’ costumes, an integral part of the characterization.
A masterwork on the order of Richter’s Dreams That Money Can Buy, derived from Nathaniel Hawthorne and set as jewels for the close inspection of experts.
These are “Rappaccini’s Daughter” as the central specimen, Romeo and Juliet in Padua, and “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” to open the series, an enormously brittle tale of love reflected, and finally the witch-tale supreme, “The House of the Seven Gables”.
The intimate screenplay and direction labor over every implication and move on to the next every instant in a cinematic blossoming that finally tells all as the complete image, three great films on past and present.
The Last Man on Earth
Fallen humanity is described as suffering an inexplicable plague of vampirism. Some victims band together with a vaccine capable of isolating the bacillus, a partial cure. The last man is a vampire-killer who gives his blood to one of these latter (her name is Ruth) and dies on the altar of a church, speared like General Gordon in Khartoum.
The theological allegory is patent and unnoticed by critics. The beauty of the construction rests in its several stages. First the man is seen in his daily routine amid corpses in an empty city, casting staked vampires into Gehenna, keeping the lights on. A flashback brings the world into scientific view, the plague spreads, his wife dies and undead walks toward him gaping like a ghost.
An infected dog survives long enough to dash his hopes. Ruth appears, a spy for the rest. The film was shot in Italy with a certain ambience of the postwar cinema there, doubtless intentional.