5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
John Carradine: Puppeteer, Painter, Master Of Mayhem,
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This review is from: Bluebeard (DVD)
I did not know what to expect when I ordered this movie. All I knew was that it starred John Carradine and was made in 1944. It turns out that it is not a pirate movie; it is about Carradine as a tormented artist. Carradine, playing a nineteenth century French artist in Paris is the notorious 'Bluebeard' who kills models and dumps them into the Seine. Although I generally associate Carradine with grade Z horror movies from the sixties, he was at one time a very fine actor capable of a wide range of roles and emotions. Here he is excellent as the tormented painter and puppeteer who is haunted by an early encounter with a woman he helped, but ended up destroying him emotionally. Many of Carradine's talents are put to good use here, including the use of his singing voice. (Actually that wasn't a talent to write home about. The next time I can think of John singing is in the disastrous Coleman Francis cold war fiasco "Red Zone Cuba".)
Carradine is backed up by a talented cast including Jean Parker who plays the object of his desire, and who ultimately helps unravel his doings via a cravat she mended for him after he kills her sister. Also in fine form is Ludwig Stossel, who plays a nervous art dealer who seeks money from an unholy alliance with Bluebeard. Silent screen star Nils Asther plays a police detective very coolly, though when he speaks with his French accent he sometimes seems to be channeling Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau.
The film is well done, with excellent acting all around, although there are a few problems. The print is very dark and sometimes the outdoor action (generally at night) is hard to follow as the characters blend into the shadows more than was even intended. The music is public domain, and frequently does not fit the action onscreen, and the outdoor sets look like they were representations made for live theater on stage.
Carradine makes this picture what it is: he is excellent in the role of Bluebeard, and despite the occasionally exaggerated bug-eyed facial expressions (and the singing) this stands as one of the best performances in his very long career.