Thursday, November 4, 2010

1945 - HANGOVER SQUARE, don't mess with a crazy musician

This is a well made thriller with lots of atmosphere.  The director John Brahm, the cinematographer Joseph LaShelle and the composer Bernard Herrmann were really on top of their game in this film. 

Hangover Square has a great cast.  Perennial film villain Laird Cregar plays well another film villain,  a crazy composer who kills people when he experiences "blackouts."  Linda Darnell is the trampy dance hall singer who uses Cregar to write songs for her so she can advance her career, she's just asking for it.  George Sanders is a doctor who specializes in "crimes of the mind."

Another example of Darryl F Zanuck's film smarts, the novel Hangover Square was originally set in the late 1930's.  Zanuck ordered the film set in the early 1900's so he could reuse the sets from a previous film.  That decision adds to the rich Gothic atmosphere of the film.

The composer Bernard Herrmann wrote the concerto that concludes the film which he has cleverly interspersed throughout the film.  Everything leads up to the concerto, where the direction, photography and music combine for a real bravura conclusion to the film. 

Hangover Square is the acknowledged inspiration for Steven Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

77 minutes.

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