Bedlam (1945)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - May 10, 1946 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 79 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Bedlam is a film well worth seeing, especially for fans of producer Val Lewton. It's not Lewton's best film by any means and has any number of flaws, but it's a fascinating example of a genre filmmaker trying hard to both work within and break out of the confines of his genre. Bedlam's biggest problem is that it tries to be both a horror film and a serious sociological tract, and it simply can't fulfill the demands of both genres. That said, it's a very engaging film that contains two noteworthy star performances. Boris Karloff, one of the finest actors ever to toil in the often unrewarding horror genre, is superb as the ruler of the madhouse. Menacing, oily, and duplicitous, he's nevertheless enthralling and even at time sympathetic, and Karloff fills the performances with nuances that add considerable depth to the character and the film. He's well matched by Anna Lee,m who perfectly captures her character's growing social conscience without letting it come across as artificial and forced. The physical production is also noteworthy, and Mark Robson's direction is imaginative. If he is unable to reconcile the horror and sociological aspects of the screenplay, he still does a fine job of playing to the strengths of both.