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Reginald Le Borg
Lon Chaney Jr.,
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Losing his memories of the last few days, neurologist Dr. Steele is told that his wife has been brutally murdered. Steele, aware of his conniving wife's infidelity, believes he may have been the killer and enlists the aid of his pretty nurse Stella to hypnotize him into recovering his lost memories. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After the radio mystery show "Inner Sanctum" had been running for two years with huge success, Universal Pictures decided to make a movie out of it - which was itself so successful that it became a movie serial, consisting of six films altogether, all of them starring Lon Chaney Jr. in different roles; just like Richard Dix in the "Whistler" series - only with MUCH more suspense, mystery and a DEFINITE touch of Film Noir, especially this first and enormously impressive entry...
Here, Lon Chaney Jr. plays a successful neurologist who's helping lots of people with severe psychological problems by entering into their subconscious hypnotizing them, and finding the underlying reasons for their diseases - only he can't help HIMSELF: his marriage has been unhappy for years, his beautiful wife has turned away from him, cheating on him with other men, making him feel ridiculous and jealous
and ANGRY... And one day, after another quarrel about her affairs,
she is found murdered - while Dr. Steel finds himself in his office the next morning, suffering from amnesia. And while hard-boiled Inspector Gregg starts bothering him immediately, trying to get a confession out of him, Steel himself begins to believe that he's guilty; so the only way to find out the truth (while his wife's boyfriend, who keeps protesting his innocence, is waiting on Death Row for his execution), he thinks, is by having his faithful assistant Stella hypnotize him and record his memories on disk...
There are SO many twists and turns in this REALLY 'noirish', gloomy and fateful story (underlined by surrealistic camera and sound effects) that towards the end, we all feel almost like being under hypnosis ourselves, and no one knows anymore who the real killer is - and those who are realistic enough to guess, just don't want to believe it... But the MOST unbelievable thing is - that a movie of THIS class today seems almost forgotten, and isn't even considered by most people as 'Noir'!! While in comparison to this dark masterpiece full of doomed men, reckless femmes fatales and cynical cops, even some of the greatest and most celebrated Noirs (like, let's say "The Big Sleep", which is full of murders, but also of playful jokes, and does have its cheerful happy ending) look almost like children's films...
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