Thursday, January 03, 2008

Unlocking the Strange Door

Every now and then, I stumple upon a slighty flawed, but nevertheless immensely enjoyable, old movie that I feel has been neglected by the sands of time. I'm not talking about a movie like Citizen Kane, but something more like He Walked By Night or The Stranger. I've found another one to add to that list, The Strange Door from 1951. Included as part of a Boris Karloff collection as a horror film from Universal, what we find instead is a moody little thriller, with Karloff playing a supporting, yet memorable role. The real star of the show he is Charles Laughton, who never met dialogue that he couldn't chew up and spit out with delight. He plays a demented, slightly effete aristocrat who has been waiting 20 years for payback. He overacts with great glee, even with a mouthful of venison one scene. It's great fun - without an ounce of horror.

The plot moves along quite nicely, and the supporting cast is adequate, if only a little wooden. A dashing Alan Napier appears all too briefly. I was actually quite surprised to learn that this film was released in 1951, and it feels much more like a Universal film circa 1938, and I mean that as a high compliment. It's a shame that this kind of film became extinct, replaced by giant insect movies. It's an interesting little forgotten gem, and worth checking out.

1 comment:

GTS said...

Sounds like I need to check it out; and speaking of Charles Laughton, if you haven't seen Island of Lost Souls (1932), he's great in the role of Moreau, and the movie holds up quite well for its age. Bela Lugosi is very effective, too; next time you're in the mood for an old creepy show, I don't think you'd be disappointed.