Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), Boris Ingster.

Striking little B clearly influenced by German expressionist film. Wonderful combination of a typically American tight studio plot combined with beautiful European cinematography (by Nicholas Musuraca, who is also associated with five Val Lewton movies). The fact that the film stars Peter Lorre just underscores its connection with films such as M.

When a naive young journalist's testimony helps to convict a man for murder, his mind begins to unravel as he considers the possibility that the man is in fact innocent and he may be solely responsible for the man's execution. At the centre of the film is an extended dream montage in which the young man finds himself wrongfully accused of murder. In this vivid nightmare, he finds himself at the mercy of an indifferent judicial system and is celebrated in the very newspaper he writes for, which thrives on sensational stories. During this sequence, his innocent outlook is exchanged for an examination of man's sinister nature and he questions the the agents that promised to propel him to fame and fortune.

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