Among the Living and Dark Waters

Looks like there was a bit of a mix up on the old Cinematheque website. For some reason, the direct link I’ve been using didn’t list last night’s Gothic Noir double Among the Living and Dark Waters. It just went directly to tonight’s featured films. Glad I double checked, because this was a great show with no underdog.

Plus, before the movies,  Muller screened this amazing tribute to Film Noir, cut by 20 year old Serena Bramble.

Kinda gives you hope for these young kids today, don’t it?

Now, the movies. Among the Living is a pretty straightforward mad twin thriller with Albert Dekker in the double lead role, but it is surprisingly even handed in its depiction of mental illness. Years before it was trendy to delve into the killer’s history as an abused child,  this movie created a fairly complex, and even sympathetic psycho who has been imprisoned in a basement since age 10 and can still hear his long dead mother’s screams as she was beaten and tortured by his father. When the normal twin brother returns to his old home town for his father’s funeral, he learns that the brother he thought died twenty years ago is still alive and dangerously insane. Instead of sticking with the sane brother, we end up follow the mad twin as he escapes his prison and tries to figure out how the world works. He gets mixed up with a very young and astoundingly sexy Susan Hayward. Needless to say, that doesn’t go well. Next thing you know there’s an angry mob out to lynch the maniac killer and you can’t help but feel for the poor bastard. I won’t give away the twists, but I was pleasantly surprised that this one never seemed to go exactly the way I thought it would.

Next up, the lovely and exotic Merle Oberon in Dark Waters, directed by Andre De Toth. This was our second New Orleans Noir this year, but this one felt less backlot and more like the real Louisiana. It’s set mostly out of town, in bayou country. Oberon plays a traumatized survivor of a shipwreck who goes to live with her aunt and uncle on a sugar plantation. Of course, nothing is what is seems in the creepy old mansion and Oberon fears she may be losing her grip on reality. This is a fun, atmospheric thriller with a great death by quicksand, plus we got another possible entry in the list of gay male couples in Film Noir, Thomas Mitchell and Elisha Cook Jr.

Tonight at the LA Film Noir Festival really is Crashout and Cry Vengeance. I promise.

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