23 February 2004 | RNQ
Not yet tragic
Berserk!, despite many things including its overkill title, is not as bad as some people claim, though not a great success either, not as good as Max Ophuel's Lola Montes. The actors get through their lines professionally. Set in a circus, the movie does a tolerably good job of showing performers of the class of "freaks" as responsible participants, notably George Claydon. Its best scene is when the character played by the ueberblonde Diana Dors barges in, bottle in hand, on shirtless Ty Hardin, and he resists her close up. For his own reasons, he's set instead on Joan Crawford. Joan was not a spring chicken by the time the movie was made, if she ever was one: she looks good in her ringmaster's costume, running the circus she owns, but someone should have helped her better with the red cloak she throws over her dowdy nightgown and told her never to let down her red-tinted hair. The real problem is that the movie never lets sparks fly between her and Ty Hardin. It's not a question of age difference, because look at Anna Magnani's triumphs over Burt Lancaster and Marlon Brando. OK, Joan Crawford in this movie has the additional handicap of playing a character hard as nails. But a better script would have made the discrepancy of her motives tragic. The last 10 minutes close things down in a pretty improbable way (the last murder is not done by the same person as the others). It would have helped to have ten more minutes for the Crawford character to be bereft and not berserk. Meanwhile, for those into it, there are lots of circus acts that emphasize their risks.