A mentally unstable man, who has been kept in isolation for years, escapes and causes trouble for his identical twin brother.A mentally unstable man, who has been kept in isolation for years, escapes and causes trouble for his identical twin brother.A mentally unstable man, who has been kept in isolation for years, escapes and causes trouble for his identical twin brother.
Despite, as I said, the fact that the video was rather fuzzy – so that the images generally lacked detail – I was nonetheless struck by the film’s cinematography and editing: these were particularly effective during a scene at a bar, where the mad brother (who had been secluded all his life but has now broken loose) is ridiculed by the customers, and the one following it where he chases a girl into an alley and kills her. The two central roles are played by Albert Dekker and he does very well by both, though the mad brother is obviously the showier character – which he invests with a remarkable vulnerability (when seeing the locals indulging in a particularly animated jitterbug routine, he naively asks his future victim who’s accompanying him at the time “What are they doing?”); incidentally, despite the narrative’s Gothic – or, more precisely, Southern – trappings, the setting is a contemporary one.
The supporting cast is a good one and includes: a young Susan Hayward (that is, before she became, the First Lady of Screen Melodrama) as the perky small-town girl who entrances the crazy Dekker – which she’s all-too-willing to play up to, but who promptly and fiercely turns against him when he’s eventually revealed to be the cause of the terror which has gripped the community!; Harry Carey in the ambivalent role of the town doctor who, having been complicit in the cover-up of the mad brother’s existence, fears the repercussions of this act if he were to intervene when – at the satisfactorily frenzied climax – the good Dekker is accused of his brother’s crimes!; and the troubled Frances Farmer who, however, is wasted in the colorless role of the innocent sibling’s wife (in a virtual prerequisite of genre heroines, the actress is also asked to scream – which she does unconvincingly! – in her one scene with the mad Dekker).
The film is a Paramount production and, therefore, currently owned by Universal; while the latter have served their horror back-catalogue reasonably well on DVD, the equivalent stuff from that other studio has been consistently (and bafflingly) neglected over the years – especially since this includes such highly-desirable titles as ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932), MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) and, now, AMONG THE LIVING itself...
- Oct 4, 2008