In the Nineteenth Century, in London, the barber Sweeney Todd invites lonely and wealthy costumers in the port to his barbershop on the nearby Fleet Street and murders them to take their money, while his associate Mrs. Lovatt and owner of a bakery below is barbershop gets rid off the bodies. Sweeney uses his fortune to help the fleet owner Stephen Oakley with the intention to force his daughter Joanna to marry him. However, the beloved Joanna's boyfriend Mark Ingerstreet returns rich from his last voyage and Sweeney decides to kill him and steal his fortune in pearl, making Mrs. Lovatt jealous with the situation. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Karloff aSt the Monster, Lee and Lugosi as the Count, Lon Chaney jr as the Wolfman, Cushing as the Baron and Tod as Fleet Street's most notorious barber! Certain horror stars are destined to be associated with certain roles and Mr slaughter would forever be identified with Sweeney Todd. Provincial theatregoers and the outlying suburbs of London could be guaranteed a welter of blood - or beetroot juice - whenever Tod came to town for a 2-week residency. By the 30's, he was established as a star turn, having British B films built around him - his old-school melodramas being mostly rewritten from their stage versions to prominently feature him - see Jeffrey Richards excellent article on Slaughter in the book THE UNKNOWN 30'S.
Despite the distancing device of a prologue and epilogue in a modern barbers, the film holds up extremely well. The sailor's battle with the natives at Trader Patterson's shows the grasp of the film's budget exceeding its reach. But all the staples of Victorian melodrama are present - the villain, the hero and heroine, the older man (usually a disapproving Father of the heroine) and a comic couple. Modern day audiences may feel decidedly queasy about the film's maltreatment of Tobias Wragg. Threatened and intimidated by Todd, cheerfully guzzling down god-knows-what in Mrs Lovatt's pies and forced to wear the heroine's clothes - he must have grown into an adult certifiable for treatment. The ending is contrived with Johanna rushing - unconvincingly disguised as a boy - to Sweeney's barbershop and being left to perish in the flames as the villain covers his tracks. Even more unlikely is the way Sweeney stays to watch his emporium go up in flames instead of fleeing with his riches, then rushing in for an ill-advised fight with Jack Ingestre (who adopts a convincing Yorkshire accent for his farmer disguise). The tipping chair was adopted to prevent us actually seeing any throat slitting but it results in a suitably ironic finale as the unconscious Todd is despatched to the inferno below. There is now an official Tod Slaughter website so log on and lend your support to the greatest villain British acting ever produced.
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