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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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For five thousand dollars, I'm not afraid of anything, not even death!
Among the Living is directed by Stuart Heisler and written by Garrett Fort and Lester Cole. It stars Albert Dekker, Susan Hayward, Harry Carey and Frances Farmer. Music is by Gerard Carbonara and cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl.
Dekker plays identical twins, John and Paul Raden. Paul was believed to have died when he was just 10 years old, in reality he had been traumatised and went insane and was locked up in a secret room at the Raden Mansion. When John returns for his father's funeral, he learns of Paul's existence, more so when Paul escapes and is out and about in Radentown...
1941 saw the release of Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra and I Wake Up Screaming. Films that mark an important point in the progression of what would become known as film noir, both thematically and as a visual style. Elsewhere there were some horror movies which would stand the test of time as classic productions, films such as The Wolf Man and The Black Cat are still massively popular today. Down in the lesser known file is Among the Living, a picture that blends both horror and noir for considerable rewards.
It's a slice of Southern Gothic which nods appreciatively to classic horror conventions from the previous decade (eg: the Frankenstein connection is hard to ignore but handled skillfully), and it even has social commentary bursting forth from its seams, but it's with the photographic style where it becomes a must see for film noir enthusiasts.
Heisler (latterly The Glass Key/Storm Warning) and Sparkuhl (also The Glass Key) shoot the picture by way of German Expressionism, where certain scenes and photographic compositions anticipate the noir style before it became the norm. From the feverish and frantic exuberance of a club scene, to a chase scene through menacing shadowed streets that end with murder, there are classy slices of noir before we even get to the crushing finale where Radentown is gripped by its own greed and insanity problems.
Dekker is terrific, managing to give each twin their own identity without relying on costuming for the viewers to tell the difference. His man child portrayal of Paul is heartfelt and perfectly troubling, yet always tasteful. Hayward is socko gorgeous as a vampish nymph who latches onto Paul to feather her own nest, while Farmer provides the sort of solid support she was capable of before her own personal problems would derail her potential career.
The psychological aspects of the pic are simplistic, of course, while viewing it now it's impossible to not get a sense of it being cliché heavy as regards the "twins" axis of plotting, but this is well paced, very well acted and beautifully photographed. If you can track down a decent print of it, then it's a must see for anyone interested in the influences and subsequent trajectory of film noir. 8/10
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