Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Seventh Victim (1943)

A young woman (Kim Hunter) must leave school because her sister disappeared and stopped paying the tuition. Setting out to look for her, she finds her sister's friends don't always tell the truth, and that she has gotten herself involved in something nefarious.

Perhaps two parts Noir mystery and one part Horror, but I'm inclined to overlook that. Finally I have seen all nine of Val Lewton's horror-esque films. He did five others completely outside the genre before dropping dead. Eventually I'll hit those as well.

Here's something curious. Tom Conway played the same character as in Cat People, curiouser still if you saw Cat People. Jean Brooks and he were in nine films together. Her other Lewton film, The Leopard Man, was not one of them. She would die at my age. Booze is short on nutrition.

Let's talk of Vallie, shall we? Born in Crimea back when it was illegally occupied by Russian forces, his family moved to America looking for a better life. RKO was reeling financially and needed someone who could churn out economically successful films on a tight budget and schedule. Showing the great decision making skills that got them into this mess, they chose a young man who never before produced a film. Oddly, it worked.

Seldom do I focus on producers. Ok, never do I focus on producers. But Val Lewton was not your average producer. He had a much larger hand in the creation of his films than usual. He personally worked on the scripts, was involved with the art direction, carefully chose who he wanted to work with, and his films all had his signature style whether they were directed by Jacques Tourneur or Robert Wise. The films have great atmosphere, are well crafted, and by and large very enjoyable. Avid readers may remember the one I gave a failing grade to.

One of my objectives when starting this blog (I had several) was to find these forgotten gems. Great, nuanced films I had never heard of. Here exactly is what I was looking for.

The Seventh Victim has some thrilling parts, lots of mystery, and that Lewton atmosphere. While it is as well crafted as Lewton's other works, I will say the film could have made use of some more horror elements. I will say no more because I did enjoy it. Maybe fifth best of his nine and AMRU 3.5. I just wish the devil worshipers were more satan-y.

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