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The Seventh Victim

Screening on Film
Directed by Mark Robson.
With Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks.
US, 1943, 35mm, black & white, 71 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

The subterranean flavor of all Lewton’s films is strongest in The Seventh Victim, his first production without Jacques Tourneur directing and arguably his most personal expression of a melancholic fascination with death. There is an elliptical story concerning an innocent girl trying to rescue her sister from a band of Greenwich Village devil worshippers, but more than ever Lewton proceeds by exploring the edges of the plot, imbuing seemingly insignificant bit parts and locations with extraordinary psychological intensity. The occultists are revealed to be little more than a bullying social club, but that still leaves the sister’s depression and the bare room with a noose she needs to live. The final urban nocturne reveals the city as the set of a waking dream, an endless series of blind alleys and back doors that poet John Ashbery saw as “[capturing] the weird poetry of New York in a way that few films have ever done.” 

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The Glitter of Putrescence. Val Lewton at RKO

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