Bluebeard (1944)

NOVEMBER 28, 2007


Is there anything more upsetting than when you watch a movie thinking it’s about a killer pirate and it turns out to be a movie about a “romantic” killer, filmed in the days before things like graphic violence or blood were shown on screen? Such was the case with Bluebeard, which I watched without reading the description, since many of the Mill Creek synopsii spoil parts of the film.

I dunno if it was a stylish choice, or if that the woman just couldn’t be bothered to act, but one of the film’s highlights was a pretty chilling murder scene, filmed in a Dutch angle, where Bluebeard (John Carradine) strangles a woman. She doesn’t do ANYTHING as he lunges, and doesn’t struggle or anything as he squeezes her throat. Very odd. Speaking of Carradine, I had long thought that the greatest thing to ever pass from his lips (in a film*) would be the haunting theme to Red Zone Cuba: “Night Train To Mundo Fine”. But Bluebeard dispelled that notion, when he asks a woman he just met “Would you let me make a puppet in your image?” Now, like many of you I'm sure, I get this request all the time from near total strangers, but somehow when Carradine says it, it becomes all the more upsetting.

And it’s good to know that the 1940’s had their own Michael Jeter.

There is also a lot of stuff with puppets, including what seems like 5 straight minutes of a puppet show at the beginning of the film. Sadly, this plot device is more or less dropped from the film after 20 minutes or so. Which is a bummer, for I enjoy marionettes. I’d be all for it if they decided to keep cutting to puppet shows throughout the film apropos of nothing, sort of like all the musical numbers in Horror Of Party Beach.

One thing that kept me from enjoying the movie as much as I might have otherwise was the NONSTOP FUCKING MUSIC. Not only does it literally never stop once during the entire movie (at times even slightly drowning out the dialogue), but it’s never really appropriate to the scene for the most part. A scene of Bluebeard talking to some cops has what sounds like the theme to a daytime soap playing over the entire thing, for example. What the hell were they thinking back then? It’s one thing for a silent film, but when people are trying to talk (and nothing is happening), shut the fucking score off! Even if it was Broken Arrow, which contains the finest score for an action movie ever, I’d start getting sick of it. You gotta leave ‘em wanting more!!

What say you?

*Carradine once said in an interview: “I am a ham! And the ham in an actor is what makes him interesting.” We need more actors who admit that they are in fact cold cuts.


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