Customer Reviews: Bluebeard
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on May 30, 2000
Firstly, just a word or two about the images and sound quality of this DVD. If I except the Madacy productions which everyone knows to be awfully bad, I haven't seen until now a so terrible DVD transfer. Considering the fact that most of the action of BLUEBEARD is filmed at night in a foggy Paris, the defaults of the transfer are patent. Shameful.
As bonus features, you will find a gallery of photos and posters and a very interesting featurette presenting, among other goodies, an interview of director Edgar G. Ulmer's widow.
BLUEBEARD is the first Edgar G. Ulmer's movie I have the opportunity to see and I cannot wait now to see the other two DVD available here at amazon. It's so obvious that Ulmer was a movie genius and that solely the lack of money has prevented him to direct masterpieces. The artistic quality of BLUEBEARD is far ahead of the quality of, let's say, a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie. There are minutes of pure cinema in BLUEBEARD that reminded me at times of the dreamy atmosphere of Charles Laughton's NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. John Carradine, in the role of a schizophrenic puppeteer, is perfect with his voice so sweetly innocent. At last, a special word regarding the quality of the musical score ; Edgar G. Ulmer's BLUEBEARD lasts 73 minutes and so does the musical score that is literally a character of the movie.
A DVD for your library if you are a movie lover.
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on January 12, 2012
Film director Edgar Ulmer was, in some ways, a pre-Sam Fuller Sam Fuller. Most of his career was spent toiling for B film production companies and producers. Yet, he has a reputation, like Fuller, of producing, if not great films, films that are certainly better than they should be, given the little money spent on them. Case in point is 1944's Bluebeard (a film whose producer Leon Fromkess would later work with Fuller), made by PRC, a `poverty row' studio. As evidence, watch the really well wrought puppet show scene, wherein an engaging opera scene is shown. This 72 minute, black and white film is filled with such moments, including a very good performance by John Carradine, an actor second to only the great Vincent Price in B film excellence in his art form.

Unfortunately, the film also has many moments that truly define it as a B film, in the sense that it is a second rate film- this includes some poor acting from many of the female characters that end up being murdered by Carradine's character. There are also the sort of nonsensical things that make up films not so well thought out. Given that Bluebeard was a character from a classic 17th Century French short story about a wife killer, it makes little sense that the residents of Paris, France (where the film was set) would so self-consciously refer to the killer by that term, since his crimes connect more closely to those of Jack The Ripper (the film is set during the Victorian Era). Also, while the film is ostensibly set in Paris, a poster is put up about town that is written in English, not French.

But, three things, especially, set this film apart from most B films of its day (excepting the terrific Val Lewton produced films of the 1940s). The first is the puppet opera. One has to go almost a quarter century, to Ingmar Bergman's Hour Of The Wolf for a scene of similar power that features puppets. Another, as stated, is Carradine. In a sense, like Vincent Price, he is, at first blush, not an actor of seeming De Niro-like chameleon abilities. But, like Price, his eyes tell all. In a moment, he can veer from contained rage to pathos to humor, than back to a slightly less contained rage. He has a similar angularity that also makes his body seem puppet-like, which makes the depth of his face all the more effective, as it often stands in counterpoint to his body's stiffness. The third excellent element, also mentioned, is Nils Asther as Inspector Lefevre. Aside from his court scene, there is a scene where he is bantering with the two sisters tied to Morell. Asther really walks the line between improper lusting and clever roué wit. In another scene, with Lamarte, he plays his art interest even with his detective skills, and shows multiple levels in his character. In looking up the actor, it seems he had a brief career. Too bad, because he has a quality, at least in this role, that few actors exhibit: the ability to both inhabit and transcend a character.

For these three reasons, Bluebeard is a film that, while not great, and, really, not even a classic B film in the sense that schlock like Robot Monster is, is still a film that cineastes should watch, and Edgar Ulmer is a film director whose canon I will definitely be exploring in the future. Join me.
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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.
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on September 18, 2008
John Carradine is excellent in one of his most complex roles as a artist-puppeteer driven to strangle his models. Director Ulmer does wonders with cheap sets and lighting to create the atmosphere of 19th-century Paris. Actress Jean Parker is equally fine as the sister of one of Bluebeard's victims. This is probably poverty-row company PRC'S best HORROR movie. Only the upbeat cheesy music score takes it down a notch. Don't know what they were thinking but better to play SINISTER music then that happy s&^%!
Worth a watch and always kudos to John Carradine who always had a soft spot for HORROR films. My kinda guy :)
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Niche market DVD purveyor RCF's dubs are "best available source," with quality that varies from only fair to very good.

BLUEBEARD is one of the more ambitious works from Poverty Row's PRODUCERS RELEASING CORPORATION (PRC) and was also John Carradine's personal favorite movie.

It's a costumer set in mid-19th Century Paris, a serial killer story in which artist and puppeteer Gaston Morrell seems the most likely suspect in the Bluebeard murders. A greedy art dealer acquaintance of Morrell's, Jean LeMarte (Stössel) at very least knows of the crimes and at worst he may be involved or responsible.

Morrell has an argument with his jealous girlfriend and co-puppeteer Renee (Sorel); immediately after, we see him dump Renee's lifeless body in the Seine for the police to find. With the soprano of his marionette opera of Faust dead, Morrell decides to stage instead a ballet. He asks an attractive seamstress named Lucille (Parker) to make the necessary costumes for his wooden creations. She agrees and visits his studio. Will Lucille be Bluebeard's next victim?

Director Edgar G. Ulmer manages to get every penny of his limited budget on the screen; acting and script are good. This one's major flaw is its Leo Ordody music track. An intrusive string orchestra never stops playing for a second and often battles with actors' dialogue for supremacy. A good score heightens emotions when needed, but if constantly wailing away during inconsequential moments of the story, the effect is similar to a car alarm that's been blaring for a half-hour: all you want to do is mentally filter it out but you can't, so the darn thing becomes a huge annoyance.

One star off for unnecessary noise: give this 2½ stars.

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

(6.1) Bluebeard (1944) - John Carradine/Jean Parker/Nils Asher/Ludwig Stössel/George Pembroke/Teala Loring/Sonia Sorel/Henry Kolker
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HALL OF FAMEon May 6, 2006
One of the more ambitious productions from notorious 'Poverty Row' studio Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), BLUEBEARD features the amazing John Carradine in the oft-fabled lead role.

Gaston (Carradine) is an artist/puppeteer in 19th century Paris who gets his thrills from murdering pretty young models. His newest model Lucille (Jean Parker) learns of Gaston's bizarre desires and decides to ensure his capture. Despite the 'Poverty Row' limitations of it's studio, BLUEBEARD is filled with exceptional photography and lavish production values, largely thanks to it's expert director Edgar G. Ulmer (who directed the 1934 masterpiece "The Black Cat" and whose later credits included "Strange Illusion" as well as "The Strange Woman" with Hedy Lamarr).

Jean Parker (best-remembered as Beth in the 1933 Katharine Hepburn/George Cukor "Little Women") plays Lucille and makes for a strong and vibrant heroine in the tradition of the great Ulmer leading ladies. John Carradine, who specialised in playing pychopaths and murderers, is completely mesmerising as Gaston.

The supporting cast includes Nils Asther, Ludwig Stossel, Teala Loring, Sonia Sorel, Henry Kolker and veteran character-actress Iris Adrian.
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on August 2, 2015
Released in 1944, “Bluebeard” stars John Carradine as a puppeteer in Paris who, apparently, kills young women on the side.

This is one of the dullest 'horror' movies I have ever seen. It took me three nights to try to watch it and I still had 20 minutes to go. I fell asleep on all three attempts and don’t plan on finishing it anytime soon. I always finish movies with few exceptions and this is one of those exceptions. It’s just too dull to finish!

The leading lady is a babe (Jean Parker), Caradine is charismatic and the puppet sequences are well done, even amazing, but these are the only positives that come to mind. This movie spends more time wrapped around the investigation of a painting, clothing for puppets, and droll dialogue than anything interesting.

“Bluebeard” was shot in B&W and is old as dirt, but this wouldn’t matter if the story were actually entertaining. There are a lot of ancient movies that stand up to this day because they’re great, like “King Kong” (1933), “Tarzan and His Mate” (1934) and “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). Needless to say, “Bluebeard” doesn’t rank with them.

The movie runs 72 minutes.

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on August 20, 2011
Bluebeard, 1944 film

We see an old European city, a bridge over a river, and a floating body. The Citizens of Paris are warned about a strangler of young women. Report any suspicious characters to the Police! Women are afraid to walk at night. Gaston Morel is puppeteer who entertains people with a morality play about Faust, Marguerite, and Mephistopheles. Then Gaston takes up a collection. Lucille is a modiste who attracts Gaston's attention. His friend Renee is jealous, and suffers for this. A secret tunnel to the sewers? Another victim is found. Gaston reports Renee is missing. He needs a replacement. Gaston asks Lucille to make a costume for the puppets. "You ask too many questions." Lemarte rebukes Gaston. Gaston's painting attracts notice by a policeman. The Inspector is interested in that artist's work.

Francine, Lucille's younger sister, works for the Inspector. An artiste's model, and others, are asked about that painting. One model provides comic relief. One man asks about that artist, and offers a high price to provide a portrait. The police plot to trap the artist while painting. We see the interaction among the people. Francine becomes suspicious of Gaston, a bad career move. Lemarte learns more about Francine's "father". Gaston sees Lemarte's plan to escape. Whistles sound a warning. There is a fight, the police find the bodies. Lucille recognizes a cravat. Gaston returns, and answers Lucille's questions. Gaston explains what inspired his paintings, and how he reacted in real life. His models had a flaw. [A psychological problem?] The police arrive in time to save Lucille. Gaston tries to escape, but falls into the river. And so another day begins.

The dark atmosphere is for night and gloom (and war-time restrictions on lighting). This low-budget movie features a serial killer who acts due to psychological impulses. Most murders are for love or money (lust or greed) where the motive is easily discovered. The historical Blue-beard was a Marshal of France, a companion in arms to Joan of Arc, and a serial killer of children. Gilles de Rais pursued alchemy and witchcraft to turn lead into gold. The Bluebeard of legend married for wealth and murdered for gain, a morality story that warned the listeners.
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on September 15, 2015
This is one of John Carradine's best performances and movies. This is a very dark and eerie crime horror-thriller. Worth watching!

Gaston Morel (Carradine) is a starving artist (painter and puppeteer) who kills the women he paints. This killer is only known as Bluebeard until the police solve the mystery. The question is why does he kill?

This is one of those types of films that would be great to watch one dark & stormy night! There are no terrifying monsters to see but there is a murderous human killing young innocent women.

If you like horror crime-thrillers you might want to make "Bluebeard" a double feature with a movie like "Invisible Ghost (1941)".

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on April 15, 2011
Set in Paris, this film is about a serial killer who is also sympathetic and wants to avoid anymore "incidents." It is clear form the beginning that it is Carradine, so this is no spoiler - what is fun and interesting is how they do it, when compared to say Hannibal Lector of 90s sensibility. All is all, Carradine pretty much pulls it off: in his everyday life, he isn't a bad man, but that is not all that there is to him. As a puppetmaster, he runs a troupe and also makes some money painting for a sleazy little dealer who knows his deadly secrets. Into his life comes a lovely girl, whom he loves and yet seeks to avoid, particularly painting her.

While I don't want to reveal the plot, the film climaxes when Carradine explains to the girl why he does what he does. It is fun to see the root of the compulsion, but it seemed strangely shallow to me. Still, you enter his mind for a moment and it is pretty scary.

Recommended, if you like oldies that is, or Carradine. It is definitely one of his better performances.
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