If nothing else, this blink-and-it's-over B-budget Fox programmer offers an adequate surface-level digest of Edgar Allan Poe's (John Shepperd) grim life and a Psych 101 analysis of why his work instantly became so morbid and macabre. It may not run deep (an understatement), but it goes down easily, like baby food; it feels like a visualization of a two-paragraph-long bio of Poe from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, replete with an "explanatory" voice-over to fill in narrative gaps (that it took the work of two writers is astonishing). Director Harry Lachman nonetheless retains an instinct for using shallow melodrama to keep viewers hooked; approach it without expectations, and it never sinks below the level of eminently watchable. The pic's oddest aspect: its tendency to touch on more controversial developments in Poe's life sans cocking an eyebrow -- it showcases Poe's guileless marriage to his cousin Virginia Clemm (Linda Darnell) and all but openly declares Poe's incestuous love for his foster mother, France Allan (Mary Howard), without objection. The ill-fated Darnell was never as celebrated for her thesp abilities as for her fashion-model looks; she and the ravishing starlet Virginia Gilmore (as Poe's childhood sweetheart, Elmira Royster) provide Lachman and his cinematographer, Lucien Andriot, with glossy window dressing, but little more.
by Nathan Southern review