Saturday, October 30, 2010

My favorite horrorfic film

l'll say again, even though I've never known anybody to agree with me, that The Seventh Victim is the finest of Val Lewton's pictures.

I say this because its sense of evil is pervasive. And because the evil is suggested rather than demonstrated until the very end. Even the first act, which is essentially a detective story, concludes on a darkening note despite the setting of the cosmetics business for which the sister worked. There's a decadence to the business itself.

I don't want to spoil the story so I'll say that what fascinates me on third and fourth viewing is how subtly the theme is played out--the young woman hoping against hope that the evil she suspects doesn't exist--and the forces against her who have dedicated their lives to discovering evil and feeding on it. And then the reverse--it is the young woman who understand real evil and the Diabolists who are pathetic pretenders.

Kim Stanley had a troubled career. For me she was too smitten with The Method. But this was apparently before acting school got hold of her. She does excellent work here.

I like enjoy and admire all the Lewton pictures and watch them over and over. But this one has stayed with me as none of the others have.

Here are a few notes from IMBD:

The story as filmed:

Mary Gibson, a naive orphan, goes to Manhattan to find her missing sister Jacqueline. Her investigation leads her to Jacqueline's secret husband, and also to a strange cult of Diabolists who are also hunting Jacqueline. Written by Ken Yousten {}

The story that wasn't filmed:

The original story for the film (outlined by DeWitt Bodeen) was to be about an orphaned heroine caught in a web of murder against a background of the Signal Hills oil wells. If she didn't find out the killer's identity in time, she would become his seventh victim. Producer Val Lewton wanted the story to go in a different direction and called in a second writer to help reshape it.

1 comment:

SteveHL said...

I'm sorry to be so late in responding to this entry. I believe you are confusing two Kims. Kim Stanley was, as you say, one of the most Method-y of Method actresses. She made very few films; her first one was in 1958. The actress in The Seventh Victim (1943) was Kim Hunter. She is probably best known for playing Stella in both the original stage production of Streetcar Named Desire and in the 1951 movie.