Busy weekend (movie-wise at least), but computer problems have prevented me from updating. Instead of doing a full overview of everything I’ve seen I’ll give some brief thoughts that I’ll be happy to expand on. So, very quickly
Probably the most famous Lewton produced film Cat People (1942) lived up to it’s reputation. I don’t think it’s as good as either I Walked with a Zombie or The Body Snatcher, but the atmosphere and sexual subtext is beautifully executed. I loved Simone Simon in the lead role; not only is she beautiful, but she let’s all her emotions boil just under the surface. What a presence!
Isle of the Dead (1945) is a good horror piece that unfortunately doesn’t live up to it’s full potential. It feels a little too stagy, and in terms of atmosphere doesn’t quite live up to the other Val Lewton’s I’ve seen to date. Nonetheless, it features great performance by Karloff and interesting incorporation of Grecian culture.
As a big fan of the original I was surprised that The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) bested it in every which way. All at once it manages to be frightening and over the top. The film has real heart, especially the sequence between the monster and the old man… even though I couldn’t help thinking of Young Frankenstein and laughing a little. Elsa Lancaster is excellent despite her very small onscreen presence. She manages to be on the same par as Karloff (not an easy thing to do), although takes her own interesting approach.
As a HUGE Lubitsch fan, I was somewhat disappointed with a Shop Around the Corner , although I think it’s still rather good. The pacing and story don’t have enough focus, and it doesn’t have the same energy of Lubitsch’s other efforts. The performances are great, and the final half hour had me giddy. Interesting factoid is that Lubitsch himself considers this his best film.
Bedlam (1946) is definitely one of the weaker Lewton efforts, but worth seeing nonetheless. Again the strength lies on Karloff’s shoulders as a menacing and cruel as the Master of Bedlam asylum for the insane. He is exploitive and a true sadist, and the worst part is nobody (except Nell Bowen) can see that. Anna Lee offers a good counterbalance of his evil, and I think most of the film’s weakness lies in the script and the lack of really strong atmosphere.
As for Time Magazine, I can’t say I have too many comments on the entire list. Many of my favourites are there, with one notable omission. Yea, that’s right