7.2/10
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I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved | | Fantasy, Horror | 30 April 1943 (USA)
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A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Edith Barrett ...
James Bell ...
Christine Gordon ...
Theresa Harris ...
Alma - Maid (as Teresa Harris)
Sir Lancelot ...
Calypso Singer
Darby Jones ...
Jeni Le Gon ...
Dancer (as Jeni LeGon)
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Storyline

A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

the blackest magic of voodoo keeps this beautiful woman alive...yet DEAD! See more »

Genres:

Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 April 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yo dormí con un fantasma  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Edith Barrett, who played the mother, was only 3 years older than James Ellison, who played her younger son, Wesley. She actually was 2 years younger than Tom Conway, who played her older son, Paul. See more »

Quotes

Betsy Connell: Frankly, it was something of a shock to see my patient that way for the first time. Nobody had told me Mrs. Holland was a... mental case.
Paul Holland: A "mental case"?
Betsy Connell: I'm sorry...
Paul Holland: Why should you be? My wife IS a mental case. Please remember that, Miss Connell. Particularly when some of the foolish people on the island start regaling you with the local legends. You'll find superstition a contagious thing. Some people let it get the better of them. I don't think you will.
Betsy Connell: No.
Paul Holland: Come along. I'll introduce you ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning, in small letters at the bottom of the screen is this disclaimer: The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to any persons, living, dead, OR POSSESSED, is entirely coincidental. See more »


Soundtracks

Fort Holland Calypso Song
(1943) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Sir Lancelot
Played on guitar and sung by Sir Lancelot
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good, but flawed in my view
25 January 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

The film opens with Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) being interviewed for a home-care nursing position. Oddly, she's asked during the interview if she believes in witchcraft. She gets the position, working for Paul Holland (Tom Conway), who is a wealthy plantation owner on the Caribbean island of St. Sebastian. Holland has hired her to take care of his wife, Jessica (Christine Gordon), who is in a perpetual state that resembles somnambulance. As Betsy spends more time on the island, she learns that most of the population believes in and practices voodoo, and she learns that Jessica had a relatively tumultuous past with Holland's family.

This was director Jacques Tourneur and producer Val Lewton's second horror/thriller collaboration (the first being Cat People (1942) and the third The Leopard Man (1943)). For many viewers, it is their favorite of the three. While I like the film, I don't like it quite that much--I prefer Cat People. But still, I Walked With A Zombie ends up with a 7 out of 10 from me.

The horror aspects of I Walked With A Zombie are really very minor. They're really present only as a kind of personification of the results of complicated romantic and familial relationships. Yes, there is an admirable "haunted house"-styled scene involving a spooky stairway and creepy, distant sounds, and yes, the trek to the voodoo "home fort" is well done, but this kind of material doesn't work as well for me here as it did in Cat People, because here it's not really the focus of the story. It's ancillary material with the function of helping to solve a very different kind of mystery. Also, much of the voodoo material (such as the actual ceremony) tends to be overrated in my opinion, although the final sequence related to the voodoo theme is appropriately eerie.

But what works best for me in I Walked With A Zombie are the many dialogue-heavy scenes where the three main characters--Connell, Holland and Wesley Rand (James Ellison)--gradually learn more about one another, and where the "mystery" is gradually uncovered. A scene where a local "minstrel" sings part of the backstory while Connell and Rand are having a drink is exquisite, for example. Yet, even with this positive aspect, I never felt that the backstory was sufficiently explained. The mystery remains, and the moralizing bookends of the film do not help, either.

Still, I Walked With A Zombie is definitely worth a watch, and based on the extravagant praise that many viewers utter towards the film, you might like it much better than I do.


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