FERNANDO’s Corner – Posted October 9th, 2015
Val Lewton has done it again! I have become addicted to his films, to his talented point of view. There is something that his films give me that is not present in many of the “A” Hollywood films I have seen in my life. Do not misunderstand me, I do like my “A” Hollywood films, but what Lewton does with low budgets and lesser known-actors is simply amazing. Talent with capital “T”. When I am watching a Lewton film, there’s a feeling or sense of restlessness, uncertainty, helplessness…I’d even say urgency, that’s not present when seeing most films. And I’m the kind of guy who is usually guessing what’s coming next when watching a film. There’s nothing to be taken for granted with Val Lewton. The scripts of his films are robust.
I have just seen “THE GHOST SHIP” (1943) and during almost the entirety of its duration I have been almost on the verge of my seat. This is a mystery-psychological-thriller with Noir elements (IMO). Richard Dix as an apparently nice Ship captain is great. He underplays this deranged man, obsessed with authority and obedience. He is megalomaniac who believes himself to be God at sea; a Sadist who says to his Third Officer Tom Merriam, ( very well played by Russell Wade ), that “men are worthless cattle”, but who is not a one-dimensional villain. He’s a deeply troubled, sick human being. We witness his gift for manipulating people and how he achieves turning a nice guy into a leper in the eyes of his crew, isolating him. We behold his descent into madness.
The way in which events unfold in a realistic and believable way in hardly more than an hour, demonstrates the huge talent and artistry of both Val Lewton and director Mark Robson. Yet again, they do a film that is low-budget and mostly small names in the cast (save for Richard Dix, who had been a star of the first magnitude during the 1920s and early 1930’s).
In this film you’ll behold paranoia, lunacy, a battle of wills, mental delusion et al. A great, great film. And last but not least, Skelton Knaggs as the mute man is superb!
I have so become a fan of Lewton’s that I bought the Boxed DVD Set of his films.
( H O M E )