Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1943. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by Charles O’Neal, DeWitt Bodeen. Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Produced by Val Lewton. Music by Roy Webb. Production Design by Albert S. D’Agostino, Walter E. Keller. Costume Design by Renie. Film Editing by John Lockert.
Deliciously atmospheric B-movie featuring Kim Hunter in her film debut. Informed by the headmistress of her boarding school that her tuition money has stopped coming in, Hunter can no longer remain a student there; she is told that the school has tried to get in touch with her older sister, who is her guardian, but cannot find her. Hunter immediately books it to New York where she goes in search for her missing sibling, finding herself suddenly caught in a web of lies and intrigue when she begins to suspect that her sister’s participation in a Satanic cult has brought her to harm. Those looking for the kind of gory exploitation that these movies would feature in the decades to come will be disappointed, but there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had from the beautifully moody photography, its shadowy recesses combining with the hyper-glamorous Jean Brooks (as the older sister) for some very memorable, striking imagery. Despite the smarmy nature of the plot, the film does a wonderful job of building its clues up one by one and hooking the viewer in until the end.