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  • If you are a fan of Jacques Tourneur, "Experiment Perilous" is a must-see. This sinister and beautifully photographed period thriller ranks with Tourneur's supreme masterpieces, "Out of the Past", "Stars in My Crown", "Canyon Passage", "Curse of the Demon", "I Walked with a Zombie", and "Cat People". It is imbued with Tourneur's trademark touch of ambiguity and mystery. One of the reasons "Experiment Perilous" is so underrated is that the story does not flow logically. You have to do a bit of brain work to understand it, but if you are already familiar with Tourneur's cinema, this may come as a revelation. The film has often been compared to Cukor's similar costume thriller "Gaslight" which was also released in 1944 but "Experiment Perilous" is a better and more personal work. The opening chance encounter between Dr. Bailey (George Brent) and Cissie (Olive Blakeney) on the train resembles the mysterious chance meetings of "Cat People" and Tourneur's 1956 film noir "Nightfall". It has been said that the film was set in 1903 as opposed to 1944 because Heddy Lamarr wanted to wear period costumes. Lamarr is undoubtedly beautiful and her scenes with Brent and Lukas are exquisite and sensual.

    There is an excellent analysis on the film in Chris Fujiwara's book, JACQUES TOURNEUR: THE CINEMA OF NIGHTFALL (1998).
  • Atmospheric account of a chance meeting on a train that leads a doctor (George Brent) into the strange world of a young woman (Hedy Lamar) and her much older husband (Paul Lukas) . The opening takes place on a night time train ride to New York through cascading rainfall, and the inclement weather conditions continue on into a snowy and cloudy New York of the early 1900's. A story of a rich and jealous older husband with a lovely young wife, whom he had groomed in Parisian salons to enter society, and now feels insecure when she's enjoying the very society that he paid thousands of dollars to educate her to be in, who grew up in Austria and became laden with guilt and who now is so damaged that he can't see clearly enough to recognize his own good circumstances, and thus ruins everything. Director Jacques Tourneur dissects this pathological family (they have a son whom they keep in a bedroom which is up a spiral staircase) with great attention, creating some believable menace in true psychological suspense style. The need for a hero figure (Brent) to rescue the pretty Lamar and her innocent young son and provide a suitable conclusion, and Lamar's rather distracted and distant acting style are legitimate quibbles, but the overall tone is intelligently dark and serious.
  • Jacques Tourneur, whose films (such as the famous 'Cat People') were noted for their subtle and suggestive qualities, delivers an excellent specimen of his craft here, by directing a mysterious and atmospheric drama set in 1903. The incredibly beautiful Hedy Lamarr is at her dazzling best in her exquisite period gowns, looking deeply disturbed, and having good reason to do so, as her husband is a dangerous psychotic who may at any moment kill their son. The story begins in the best way possible, with a chance meeting on a train between the superbly mysterious and elusive actress Olive Blakeney and a calm, unruffled, and reassuring medical doctor played by George Brent. Brent could be annoying when cast in straight and earnest romantic leads, but being a doctor is perfect for him, and we happily allow him to fall in love with the one woman no one could ever resist, Hedy Lamarr, widely known in her prime as 'the most beautiful woman in the world'. Paul Lukas as the insane but genteel, rich, and sophisticated husband, has plenty of opportunity to show what a splendid actor he was, as he tackles this role with great subtlety. If only the scenes in the daisy fields had not been shot on a studio set! Otherwise, the atmosphere, especially of the huge old-fashioned mansion, is powerful and reeks of mystery. This is an excellent melodrama. Some of the film was cut at the last minute, as a shocking gap in continuity occurs when Brent is telling his friend that he is being followed. He does not comment on the strange shoes the man had been wearing, which we had previously seen on camera. But the next moment, his friend mentions them, despite not having been told about them in the final cut. The studio may have ordered some cuts by another editor, without the director being involved, as Tourneur would never have let this happen if he could have prevented it. So probably ten or fifteen minutes of the film were chopped out prior to release. This film is only available on DVD in Spain, from where I obtained it (where it is called 'Noche en el Alma'), and I had to watch it with Spanish subtitles. One will do anything to see a Hedy Lamarr film, after all, won't one?
  • Many critics have never been able to get past Hedy Lamarr's fabulous face. She was so beautiful, that it was hard to realize that she was actually human, an not some marble work of art. I think she gave a fine performance in this slick psychological thriller. The supporting cast was also good. I know I am probably the only person in the world, who would have preferred Hedy Lamarr over Bergman, in Gaslight. With superior direction, and a better script, I think Hedy Lamarr could have turned in a very good performance. Anyway, Experiment Perilous is a little gem, made during Hollywood's golden age.
  • Some of the reviewers here have been unkind for Hedy's performance, and can't for the life me understand why. They are all making comparisons for 2 different performances, with 2 movies that have similar backgrounds...almost anyway. Hedy's was suppose to show fear, anxiety, and meekness in her character...afraid to confront her husband. In this regard, Ingrid's character in "Gaslight" was similar, up to a point. Ingrid, had the one big scene where she shows all her frustration and anger at her husband, in one lusty yell. Hedy had no such scene advantage. Her performance was more somber, which i think she did, to me, and at the time of its release, many of the reviews said the same. By today's standard of performances, she would have been at the least nominated for an Oscar, as in comparison to a Helen Hunt performance in a forgettable movie with Jack Nickelson, in which she won Best Actress.
  • Wow, Hedy Lamarr was so exquisitely beautiful in this film. I really must see some more of her films. There was an obvious similarity to "Gaslight" of the same year, and I wonder which film was released first. I enjoyed this film and recommend it. Grade: B
  • On a train bound for New York in 1903, George Brent befriends an old spinster returning home after years in a sanitarium. She tells him the story of her well-known family. Upon arrival, Brent finds one of his bags missing and one of hers in its place, containing her detailed diary. Soon after, he learns the woman has died suddenly and finds himself drawn into her family's unhappy saga.

    Her brother, Paul Lukas, married a girl (Hedy Lamarr) years his junior; he engages Brent, a physician, to document her loosening grip on reality. But upon investigation, Brent learns that the mental instability nestles elsewhere in the family – and he falls in love with Lamarr himself, despite the fact that he feels himself slipping into a treacherous plot.

    Released in 1944, the same year as George Cukor's Gaslight, Experiment Perilous too sets a psychological melodrama in a period setting. And it too benefits from elegant direction: Jacques Tourneur's.

    Of the handful of directors whose artistry helped produce the noir cycle's most canonical movies, Tourneur remains the most elusive. He seemed to favor no theme or particular style from work to work, rethinking each one from scratch and then crafting it with insight and taste. The Cat People, Out of the Past, Berlin Express, Nightfall – these titles have little in common but quality (and perhaps a fondness for the flashback as a narrative tool).

    The flashbacks in Experiment Perilous add to the movie's sense of unease and peril (perhaps excessively: the narrative grows murky and the characters don't sort themselves out too clearly). But what Tourneur sacrifices in clarity he makes up for in tension and mood; period dramas tend to have their longueurs but he keeps the story curiously compelling.

    He's abetted in his aims by Roy Webb, who supplies a rich and responsive score. (Webb composed the music for many films in the noir cycle – including several with Tourneur – and remains one of its unsung heroes.) Experiment Perilous, a neglected film, is important Tourneur and important early noir, arriving at a time when the cycle was starting to codify its allusive tone and fragmented narrative patterns. And, except for the fact that Brent and Lamarr are not Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, it's as good as Gaslight – in some ways even better, as the root of the psychological malaise turns out to be somewhat darker than old jewels sewn to a gown.
  • Dr. Huntington Bailey is on a train trip when he meets Cissie Bederaux (Olive Blakeney), a nervous woman who reaches out to him. At first he thinks she might be mentally unstable, but he soon learns the truth. She explains that she is the sister of the famous Nick Bederaux (Paul Lukas) about whom she is writing a book. She asks Bailey if he would help her arrange her hotel stay when they reach their destination. He agrees.

    It is not to be, however. Cissie dies of a heart condition and her belongings are sent to her brother, all except her writing materials. Bailey meets the Bederauxs, Nick and his unusual wife Allida (Hedy Lamarr). She has many admirers and a lovely home, but she seems sad somehow. Nick quickly engages Bailey to study his wife, secretly of course, but what he finds is not what he originally suspects.

    There are some interesting moments in this film, especially toward the end, but the story goes along predictably. It is very similar to Gaslight, a film with Ingrid Bergman which is considerably better remembered. George Brent is not an impressive leading man. He is adequate in his part, but he is not overly charming or attractive to make him very memorable.
  • Jack Tourneur knew how to build an ominous atmosphere :remember the scenes at the pool in "cat people",the meeting on the moor in "circle of danger" and almost everything in " night of the demon".

    The meeting with the old Clarissa on the train,the station where she leaves the hero ,and the way she says goodbye (actually farewell) is almost supernatural.Then the extraordinary beauty of Hedy Lamarr and her picture add to build an eerie atmosphere ,sometimes recalling as user has pointed out ,"gaslight" .

    The script,however ,does not always make sense ,and lacks focus ,unlike the three other works I mention.But just for the atmosphere ,this is another Tourneur you should not miss.
  • AlsExGal28 December 2018
    Jacques Tourneur directed this RKO historical melodrama that has a good cast, excellent director, and atmospheric cinematography by Tony Gaudio, so the money spent definitely shows on the screen. So what's wrong? The wordy, tortuously slow script that is all talk and no action and tries to echo "Gaslight".

    When there's finally a confrontation between the good and bad guys, they yap forever before there's any action. Director Tourneur and his cast do their utmost, but they just can't redeem the script. They do make the film watchable and intermittently fascinating. In the end, Gaudio's cinematography and the performances are better than the script deserves.

    It is an interesting factoid that Cary Grant and Gregory Peck were both scheduled to play George Brent's role but both dropped out. It might have been a better film had one of them been in it.
  • George Brent while traveling on a train back to New York meets nice but frightened spinster lady Olive Blakeney and they strike up an acquaintance. He accepts her invitation to visit her posh home in Manhattan and then finds that she's died rather suddenly. That's enough to intrigue Brent, but when he meets the family head Paul Lukas and his beautiful wife Hedy Lamarr that's more than enough to keep him interested in the Bederaux Family.

    Hedy Lamarr was now away from the really big studios and on a downward slide in her career that was interrupted somewhat by Samson And Delilah. But she was still putting out some good product as Experiment Perilous demonstrates. This drama set during the Henry James/Edith Wharton period in New York is one creepy movie that presents Lamarr as a frightened, but self controlled woman not knowing what her millionaire husband will do next. A poet George Neise with whom she had an affair has already been done in and she's rightly scared. She reaches to Brent like a drowning woman for a life raft.

    Lukas is fresh off his Oscar from 1943's Watch On The Rhine and for a while and really for the rest of his career that Oscar guaranteed him some better character roles. He certainly wasn't a traditional leading man, but he notched above his fellow character players for the rest of his life.

    Director Jacques Tourneur kept the atmosphere murky, moody, and creepy not necessarily in that order. Experiment Perilous did get an Oscar nomination for Art&Set Direction for a perfect recreation of turn of the last century New York. And he got great performances out of his three leads and the ensemble cast RKO assembled.

    If you are a Hedy Lamarr fan this is one of her major films.
  • At turn of century, George Brent encounters woman on train with whom he strikes up a conversation. Later in new york, he learned she has died suddenly. The details of her death bother him in light of some of their conversation. later he is taken to the home of her brother, a prominent doctor (Paul Lukas) and his beautiful wife (Hedy Lamarr) and son. At the party, Lukas voices concern about his wife's recent strange, and asks for Brent's help. Though Lamarr's performance is rather flat, perhaps deliberately so, Brent and Lukas give strong performances, and Tourneur's direction is effective as always. The film builds well to a strong finish.
  • Experiment Perilous is directed by Jacques Tourneur and adapted to screenplay by Warren Duff from the Margaret Carpenter novel of the same name. It stars Hedy Lamarr, George Brent, Paul Lukas, Albert Dekker, Olive Blakeney and Carl Esmond. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Tony Gaudio.

    1903 New York and psychiatrist Dr. Huntington Bailey (Brent) is plunged into a psychological maelstrom when he enters the lives of Clarissa (Blakeney), Allida (Lamarr) and Nick Bederaux (Lukas).

    I've been living in that diary tonight, living the strange distorted lives of Nick and his sister.

    It's a grand title for a film, but one which is something of a bum steer since it conjures up images of Frankenstein type horror. Experiment Perilous comes from a Hippocrates saying and is quoted by Brent's good doctor during the unfurling of the narrative. The Carpenter novel was actually set in the present day but a decision was made to transfer the story to the early part of the 1900's so as to get some period flavours into the mix. A good move as it turned out.

    Very much in the vein of The Murder In Thornton Square (or the remake Gaslight also released in 44), Rebecca, Suspicion et al, Tourneur's movie isn't up to the standard of those films, but that in no way means it doesn't hold many pleasures, because it does, especially for Tourneur fans. It's very much a slow burner, a talky picture that for the first hour nearly crumbles under the weight of too much exposition and cod psychological musings. Yet the visuals and alternating interior and exterior period settings set up by Tourneur and Gaudio are mightily impressive (the interior set designs were nominated for an Oscar). Story unfolds to a back drop of a steam train, snowy gas lighted streets and an imposing period Brownstone abode (good use of miniatures a bonus here as well), while the interiors veer from elegant dressings to gloomy rooms of shadows and a hidden away spiral staircase. These are tailored made for Tourneur who ensures the standard formula of plotting is given a kick by its surroundings.

    Narratively it's made obvious to us that something isn't right with Lukas' shifty husband character and it comes as no surprise to see a romance begin to form between Brent's doctor and Lamarr's emotionally confused wife in possible peril. But these sign posted developments are well handled by the director, where flashbacks help and sinister additions such as a child hidden away upstairs and the Bederaux's back story keep things perched on the mystery/thriller edge. Cast performances are strong, with Lukas suitably suspicious, Brent unassuming and reflective and the beautiful Lamarr showing a fragile innocence that underpins the story. It all builds to a furious finale that involves fire, water and hopefully some race against time heroics?...

    Some patience is needed to get the most out of the picture, but neo- Gothic delights are within for those so inclined. 7.5/10
  • Hedy Lamarr is a beautiful but troubled woman in "Experiment Perilous," also starring George Brent and Paul Lukas. This film has been compared to "Gaslight" as well as other works by Tourneur, including "Cat People." It certainly has elements of both.

    Brent is a doctor who meets a lovely woman on a train. She says some strange things to him about the home of her brother, where she is going to stay. Shortly afterward, she dies suddenly. When he later meets her brother and his wife, he falls for the wife at first sight. And what man wouldn't - she's Hedy Lamarr. The doctor is soon drawn into a confused and mysterious situation at the house as the husband, Paul Lukas, confesses concerns about his wife.

    This is a well done, compelling movie where nothing happens until the end, but there is plenty under the surface to keep the viewer interested and guessing. Underlying suspense and tension pervades throughout as Brent becomes more and more suspicious of activities going on at the house, especially when Lamarr asks for his help.

    The casting is a little bizarre. George Brent exhibits no emotion throughout and is quite wooden. Lamarr is supposed to be a former farm girl and evidently from the U.S., so one questions the accent. She has no expression in her voice or face throughout, which may have been the decision of the director. Lukas is excellent, an affability and charm belying what's underneath. He is a member of a wealthy New York family, yet he has an accent and his sister didn't. So one wonders what dictated this strange casting and why at least the story wasn't changed to accommodate the actors chosen.

    There's been some discussion as to whether Lamarr could have done "Gaslight" rather than Bergman. Hedy Lamarr with good direction was a decent actress, but not in my opinion a strong enough one for the role in "Gaslight." She was one of the most beautiful women in film and could be absolutely delightful in the right circumstances. Her contribution to film history is more than satisfactory.
  • utgard1431 October 2013
    So-so melodrama has a decent cast and a great director but somehow never takes off. Part of the problem is it's one of those movies where everybody talks like they're trying to be quotable. Like every line should be delivered like a poem. Also, Tourneur's direction is a bit of a disappointment. I'm a fan of his but this is a rather pedestrian workmanlike effort by him. George Brent and Paul Lukas are fine actors but here both seem miscast, particularly Lukas. Then there's Hedy Lamarr. I've never been a huge Hedy Lamarr fan. Of all the screen goddesses of the golden age she leaves me rather cold. I've enjoyed some of her films but she's not a favorite of mine. I find her acting OK, although it's strained in this picture. She seems stretched beyond her limits and her portrayal makes Allida seem mentally slow.

    It's a fairly by-the-numbers flick in the Gaslight mold. But Gaslight was better in every respect. Obviously fans of Hedy Lamarr will probably enjoy it more than I did. So take that for what it's worth.
  • Beautifully mounted recreation of 19th century New York, which is not surprising since this was RKO's golden age of set design and art direction. Those wall encased aquariums that line the main hall are shrewdly suggestive that anything might happen in such an exotic old mansion. Note too, the constant presence of snow on the sidewalks, a realistic and atmospheric touch unusual because of the expense.

    The opening scenes foreshadow dangers to come-- the locomotive plowing through flooded tracks, the odd "birdlike" passenger who intrudes with her strange story. All of this had me thinking the movie would be special. Indeed, the first half is intriguing as the doctor (Brent) delves further into the mysterious death of the birdlike woman. However, the second half flattens out into a rather static drawingroom drama that fails to generate the kind of edge-of-the-seat climax that's needed.

    George Brent was never a charismatic leading man, bland at best. Here, however, he blends right in as the stolidly responsible doctor who can be believed. The trouble is that the script follows him around for almost the entire time, and since he's seldom privy to events with the boy, we don't get much sense of the menace surrounding the boy that should drive the suspense, but doesn't. La Marr, of course, looks exquisite as the script requires; nonetheless, her skills as a besieged wife are considerably less than those of Ingrid Bergmann in the remarkably similar Gaslight (1944). Then too, Paul Lukas lacks the kind of conniving charm that the part calls for, making the showdown less a revelation of his true character, than a simple extension.

    On the other hand, the movie has the great Albert Decker as a maverick sculptor who breathes real life into the proceedings, along with a terrific explosion and fire that's a real grabber. However, I'm still puzzling over that awkward epilogue involving the cop at movie's end. Was that to satisfy Code requirements that nothing gets past the police since there is an element of deception that would otherwise be left hanging. Anyway, whatever the movie's shortcomings, it remains unerringly pictorial throughout, a tribute to the artistic eye of director Jacques Tourneur and the RKO art department.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In 1940, the British version of GASLIGHT debuted. Until very recently, most people didn't even know that it existed, as Hollywood execs bought up all the prints and remade it into an Oscar-winning film (the 1944 version with Ingrid Bergman). When the more famous version debuted in 1944, EXPERIMENT PERILOUS also appeared in theaters and BOTH films are very, very similar. Both films concern a seemingly normal husband who is insane and is trying to drive their wives insane--and it just doesn't seem like a mere coincidence that they both were made at about the same time. Despite the lack of originality, EXPERIMENT PERILOUS is still an excellent film--though I naturally have to knock off a point for being derivative.

    As far as the acting goes, it was generally exceptional. I particularly liked Paul Lukas, as the insane husband bent on manipulating and destroying his wife, Heddy Lamar. While sounding like Bela Lugosi (after all, they were both Hungarian), he was menacing and exciting to watch.

    As for George Brent, we was his usual competent and interesting self--sort of an "everyman" character and he did a good job. The only negative can't be blamed on Brent but the writers. That's because at the end of the film, there is a really dumb and clichéd moment-something you know cannot possibly happen. That's because in the huge confrontation scene with Lukas, Brent beats him up and kicks away the gun---but he never bothers to pick up the gun and runs to the next room. Then, as the cliché goes, Lukas returns again and it's yet another fight. In real life, you'd either keep the gun or just shoot Lukas to end the threat once and for all!

    Hedy Lamarr was the weakest of the main characters, as she was given a typical Hedy Lamarr role. Hollywood insisted on casting her as a zombie-like lady who went through wardrobe change after wardrobe change. Of course she was a beautiful woman, but these sort of "Barbie doll roles" did little to challenge this highly intelligent woman. Sadly, despite having a brilliant mind, you'd never know it from most of the scripts she was given.

    I do have a mild complaint, though, about the producer not doing his job well in casting the film. Lukas was a Hungarian and Lamarr was Austrian--yet they played parts that made no sense. First, Lukas spoke with this accent but his sister sounded like a typical American. Second, although Lamarr hid her accent better than most European-born American starlets (such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich), she did NOT sound like a lady from Vermont!! I think Hattie McDaniel or Marjorie Main sounded more like New Englanders than Miss Lamarr! Mentioning where she was from was unnecessary for the plot--they could have easily just said she was from "the country" and left it at that.

    Despite several mistakes here and there and a derivative plot, the film still works because it was exciting and captivated me. Plus, although this was made by a "2nd tier studio" (RKO), it looked great--with the most realistic weather in any 1940s film I can recall--with rain, snow and sleet at different times in the film. That and the set designs and decoration were lovely.

    Overall, it's worth a look, but my advice is to seek out the original GASLIGHT--it's the best and most original in the genre.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    EXPERIMENT PERILOUS is another film noir of the 1940s about a family who seem to be tinged with madness. The setting is a house full of hidden secrets, where a doctor (the solid George Brent) arrives after being drawn into the story by meeting a woman on a train who ends up dead soon after. This film mainly gets by thanks to a strong and ethereal performance from Hedy Lamarr as a rather unsettling kind of femme fatale character; there's little in the way of plot but the whole thing is laced with atmosphere and subtle meaning. It's very well shot, too.
  • Prismark102 October 2018
    Jacques Tourneur directs this talky psychodrama with Freudian themes. The film came out at the same time as the better Gaslight.

    The opening that hints at Hitchcock. Psychiatrist Dr Huntington Bailey (George Brent) meets a fretful old lady (Olive Blakeney) on a train. She has been staying in a sanitarium. She tells him that she is going to visit her brother, the socialite and philanthropist Nick Bederaux (Paul Lukas) and his wife Allida (Hedy Lamarr) in New York.

    Dr Bailey later finds out later that the old lady died suddenly of a heart condition. Intrigued he decides to meet Nick and Allida at a function. Dr Bailey also comes across some of the old lady's diaries where he writes about her family and her younger brother Nick who she raised when both of their parents died when Nick was young. Something about his traumatic childhood has deeply affected Nick.

    Dr Bailey figures that Nick is possessive and jealous of his younger, pretty wife. He manipulates her psychologically and she stays all the time inside the house. Dr Bailey thinks that both Allida and her young child might be in danger from her unbalanced and cruel husband.

    The movie has a formulaic plot, an over the top explosive climax. It is atmospheric but becomes too leisurely which is bogged down in dialogue with its bland leading man.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First off, I don't see the great parallels between this film and "The Spiral Staircase" that some see. Yes, both films featured George Brent, and a back spiral staircase pops up in this film. But there the similarities end, other than that this is a psychological thriller.

    The story takes place just after the turn of the century when a doctor -- George Brent -- meets an overly friendly older lady (Olive Blakeney) on a train. She shares with him that she is going to visit her brother (Paul Lukas) and his young wife (Hedy Lamarr). She persuades him to have her luggage sent to the same hotel as where he will be living. But, shortly thereafter, she dies and he is introduced at a tea to Lucas and Lamarr. Lamarr seems slightly crazy, and her husband is seemingly treating her so. Although Lukas asks Brent to treat his wife, he then becomes jealous of him (and others; old husband, young suitors). The question turns out to be -- who is the really crazy one? Brent decides to free Lamarr, but...well, let's just say there's an explosive ending.

    There are some nice special effects in this film toward the conclusion, and it's clear this was fairly big budget for RKO.

    I'm not at all a fan of Hedy Lamarr, though I admit that every once in a while she came across well; she does here. George Brent hasn't the greatest depth of any American actor, but I almost always find him enjoyable on the big screen...and he is here. Paul Lukas was a darned good actor, and plays his part here nicely.

    A classic? Well, no. But a darned good film that is worth watching...and I have, twice so far. Considering buying a DVD.
  • Film-Noir is at its best when placed in a contemporary present time template. The period pieces struggle to fit into the modern sensibility of the genre. That said, there are some directors and films that can pull it off and deliver these off center psychological presentations.

    This one is a smooth looking ominous study of driven insanity that is an oft used narrative of twentieth century fixation on mental illness and psychiatry. Set during the time of Freud and Jung this pathological study was in its infancy and lent itself to broad concepts and yet proved diagnosis.

    There is a brooding atmosphere with doom laden despair. An urgency of impending impact on the innocent and the gullible. It is a film filled with barely a smile or upbeat behavior where everything and everybody is bursting inside but contained in the periphery.

    This is the suspense and the anxiety that is even more so because of the Victorian pleasantries and repressed emotions that culminate in a determined need for venting as the fear simmers and the release is a welcome relief. The Director's take on all this is the usual unsettling couching of style and pacing that is slow, suggestive, and stimulating.
  • I wasn't sure how I'd react to this film. The title is a bit awkward and very often period films are enough off-the-mark in the set department to make me dissatisfied. But, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed "Experiment Perilous." I won't deny that there are some plot holes: Why does Nick Bederaux have a strong German accent while his sister sounds totally American despite their having been raised together? For that matter, why does his wife, a Vermont country girl, have a Mittel European accent? But I chalked this up to suspension of disbelief and after a bit I forgot about it.

    George Brent is his usual excellent, understated self and Hedy Lamarr, whose films I've not been very familiar with, was also very good. Ditto, Albert Dekker and Paul Lukas. In a film that could easily tempt anyone to overact, I found all the performances credible. Other reviewers have compared the film to "Gaslight," but I find "Experiment Perilous" more subtle, less overwrought.

    And the period sets? More believable than usual in this kind of film. I've been looking at a lot of turn-of-the-century New York City photos over the past year or two and it looked to me like the art director tried to get at least the exteriors right. For example, near the beginning of the film, when Bailey first visits the Bederaux home with Claghorn, you catch a glimpse of the Madison Square Garden tower in the distance down Madison Ave., a satisfying detail.

    My recommendation: catch this one if you can.
  • Vincentiu3 March 2013
    for the fans of noir movies, it is a really interesting. for each viewer, it can be a sort of gem. precise, dramatic, seductive, slice from golden age, Experiment Perilous has entire air of Hitchcock masterpieces. sure, it is not unique but it remains seed for a form of art who gives to thriller not only fear lines, tension or atmosphere but a special charm. it is a drawing. correct, interesting, beautiful. the virtues of 1944 cinema is basic note but , like important films of period, it represents a little more than part of chain. secret - the wise director who gives perfect nuances to each detail. dialogs. and the science to make ideal tension like a medicine.
  • That HEDY LAMARR was one of the great beauties of the screen goes without saying. But whether she had the acting abilities to play a woman being driven slowly out of her mind by a calculating doctor husband (PAUL LUKAS) still remains questionable. There is no evidence in EXPERIMENT PERILOUS to suggest that she would have been up to the demands of the Ingrid Bergman role in GASLIGHT, which she turned down.

    Instead, she chose to star in this murky melodrama full of flashbacks and with an obscurely motivated script by Warren Duff. While it's by no means a complete failure, neither is it a resounding success.

    GEORGE BRENT as the friend who comes to Lamarr's aid is as stiff and wooden as ever, using just one expression throughout and obviously not too well connected to his role. Whether this was the director's fault or not, I can't say, but a more persuasive performance on his part would have made the whole thing more effective. PAUL LUKAS gives his usual professional performance as the doctor with an unhealthy perspective on how to deal with his wife and child.

    Jacques Tourner's direction leaves a lot to be desired. This is a story in the same mold as GASLIGHT, but nowhere as effective with a murky script and a dull payoff for the climax. As for Hedy Lamarr, she was much more at ease in other films, even though this is said to be one of her own favorite films.
  • Yes, step right up to buy the Brooklyn Bridge. And how about Paul Lukas as the scion of a wealthy New York family with a French name? What came over the people who cast this ramshackle event? George Brent is plausible as a doctor. The others: No.

    And what was with movies in terms of portraits? Hedy Lamarr certainly was a gorgeous woman. Yes, the portrait of her, through which she is introduced to us, looks like the work of a quick-sketch artist in Provincteown. It supposedly hangs in a museum but it has artistic merit of 2 on a scale of 1 to 100.

    The movie is well directed and beautifully filmed. And it isn't boring -- though it is predictable. It could so easily have been better, though, it's kind of a shame.
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