The Seventh Victim (1943)

JANUARY 28, 2008


I really gotta stop reading descriptions about movies before I watch them. Until there’s such a thing as a spoiler warning on a plot synopsis, I always run the risk of knowing more than I’d like about a film, due to differing opinions on the difference between “plot” and “revelation”. Such is the case with The Seventh Victim, which, as far as I am concerned, is about a girl looking for her missing sister. That’s it. But Time Warner or whoever wrote the damn synopsis felt compelled to reveal exactly who/what took her sister, something that isn’t revealed until about 40+ minutes into the 71 minute film.

Of course, I spoiled it in the “Genre” tag, but whatever. No one pays me.

Ironically, the first 20 minutes of the film moved rather quickly, as the girl goes on her search pretty much in the 2nd or 3rd scene, and by the 20 minute mark has met a private investigator, visited the police, gone on a spooky search, seen a murder, etc. So I wrote down “Moves quickly!” and then literally as soon as I put the pen back down the movie began to slow down (I contemplated writing “not enough hardcore nudity and violence” to see if THAT suddenly changed, but I decided against it).

Part of the problem is that at this point in the film we are introduced to some 400 or so male characters: a shrink, a poet, another investigator, a doctor, yet another investigator, etc. They all seem to want to find the sister as well, not to mention totally tap the main girl. This results in a lack of focus – it’s like an ensemble film in which only one character’s storyline matters. Hell, the “heroine” even disappears for a large part of the climax, which is a bit odd (she’s not even present when all of the explanation about her sister is revealed!). Who is this movie about, anyway?

According to the always accurate Wikipedia (quoting a documentary on Val Lewton that aired along with all of these films on TCM – which I also recorded and will watch once I finish seeing all the movies since these docs tend to spoil the films more than a Time Warner synopsis could ever aspire to), a lot of scenes were cut from this one, and it sort of shows. People become important without really being introduced, characters disappear for long stretches, etc. And, as mentioned, there is no hardcore violence or nudity (that might be a stylistic choice though).

Still, it’s a pretty good film, and apparently has some ties to Cat People. So there’s something. The ending is pretty depressing/creepy, and I must admit I was surprised by it. And I like seeing old New York in movies for some reason. All in all, the best 71 minute movie I’ve seen! Wait, how long was Rise Of The Dead? I think that was 71 too. Oh well, this is top 5 at any rate.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I also taped the Lewton-fest on TCM, and have been making my way thru them. Haven't seen The Seventh Victim yet. The last one I watched was Bedlam, which was top notch.

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