Paul Raden (Albert Dekker), hopelessly insane son of Maxim Raden, hated owner of the Radentown mills, is in a strait jacket in a secret room in the family mansion, while the body of his father is lowered into a grave. Twenty-five years earlier, the brutal father had hurled Paul against a wall when the young boy had tried to defend his mother and, with his brain injured forever, Paul's last memory, before descending into the shadows on insanity, was his mother's agonized scream. At the graveside are Dr. Ben Saunders (Harry Carey), Paul's twin brother John (Albert Dekker) and John's wife Elaine (Frances Farmer). Pompey (Ernest Whitman'), the family servant who has cared for and guarded Paul and kept the family secret for a quarter of a century,watches from afar. That night Dr. Saunders tells John that his twin, who he thought dead, is alive as the father, refusing to commit him to an institution, had bribed the doctor to sign a false death certificate and then bury another child's body ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
[Eyeing Raden's bankroll]
Say, if I had a wad of folding dough like that I'd go right out and buy an outfit that would knock this neighborhood cockeyed!
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I’d always been interested in this one – not least because it involves twins (and, thus, reminiscent of the Boris Karloff vehicle THE BLACK ROOM ) – so that when I came across the film, even if I knew that the quality would be far from optimal, I leapt at the chance to acquire it. While not strictly horror, it involves several elements that are part and parcel of the genre – old dark house, family secret, madness, murder, mob fury, etc.
Despite, as I said, the fact that the video was rather fuzzy – so that the images generally lacked detail – I was nonetheless struck by the film’s cinematography and editing: these were particularly effective during a scene at a bar, where the mad brother (who had been secluded all his life but has now broken loose) is ridiculed by the customers, and the one following it where he chases a girl into an alley and kills her. The two central roles are played by Albert Dekker and he does very well by both, though the mad brother is obviously the showier character – which he invests with a remarkable vulnerability (when seeing the locals indulging in a particularly animated jitterbug routine, he naively asks his future victim who’s accompanying him at the time “What are they doing?”); incidentally, despite the narrative’s Gothic – or, more precisely, Southern – trappings, the setting is a contemporary one.
The supporting cast is a good one and includes: a young Susan Hayward (that is, before she became, the First Lady of Screen Melodrama) as the perky small-town girl who entrances the crazy Dekker – which she’s all-too-willing to play up to, but who promptly and fiercely turns against him when he’s eventually revealed to be the cause of the terror which has gripped the community!; Harry Carey in the ambivalent role of the town doctor who, having been complicit in the cover-up of the mad brother’s existence, fears the repercussions of this act if he were to intervene when – at the satisfactorily frenzied climax – the good Dekker is accused of his brother’s crimes!; and the troubled Frances Farmer who, however, is wasted in the colorless role of the innocent sibling’s wife (in a virtual prerequisite of genre heroines, the actress is also asked to scream – which she does unconvincingly! – in her one scene with the mad Dekker).
The film is a Paramount production and, therefore, currently owned by Universal; while the latter have served their horror back-catalogue reasonably well on DVD, the equivalent stuff from that other studio has been consistently (and bafflingly) neglected over the years – especially since this includes such highly-desirable titles as ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932), MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) and, now, AMONG THE LIVING itself...
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