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A killer of young women, dubbed Bluebeard, is loose in Paris. Lucille and her friends meet Gaston Morrell, a puppeteer. He invites them to a show the next night; they go. Afterwards, he walks with Lucille; she offers to make costumes for his next show, he accepts, and feelings develop that may lead to love. She suspects he has a tragic past. Meanwhile, his leaving the show with Lucille prompts the jealousy of Renee, Gaston's sometime lover. Lucille's younger sister, Francine, comes back to Paris - her boyfriend is Inspector Lefebre, who's hunting for Bluebeard. Some clues point toward Lamart, a greedy art dealer. Who is in danger, and can Gaston be trusted? Written by
Bluebeard is probably most notable for the fact that its lead star, John Carradine, famously named his role here as his favourite across his lengthy list of film credits. It's easy to see why the man himself enjoyed playing this part so much too - Carradine's role in Bluebeard allows him to act at his most sinister, and the film really depends on him as this is very much a one-man story. Carradine has just the right look for this sort of role also, and all these elements combine nicely to ensure that Carradine's part in this film is a success. The base for the plot is one of cinema's most common and most prolific, but this film is notable for being one of the earlier films to use it. We follow a deranged madman who likes to paint girl's pictures before he strangles them to death. The man himself is famous for two completely different lives; in one, he is the notorious serial killer 'Bluebeard', who prays on beautiful young women - and in the other he's Gaston Morrell, a dapper up and coming young painter. This film's major problem is certainly not with the plot, stars, or style; it's with the plotting.
Bluebeard falls down primarily because it moves at snail pace. The plot is intriguing, but the way it presents itself is the opposite, and it's a shame because, if handled with care, this film could have been really good instead of just being good. Director Edgar G. Ulmer is most famous for his directing credit on classic film 'The Black Cat', and is lesser known for his set design on films such as Fritz Lang's Die Nibelungen, M and Metropolis; as well as silent classics; Sunrise and Der Golem. Ulmer's previous experience helps him with Bluebeard, as the film is constantly atmospheric, and the director makes best use of his simple sets by way of his use of the camera and the murky black and white cinematography. The film is very bleak throughout, and this massively helps the plot as it gives the film just the right amount of foreboding. Plots like this have been turned into better films since the release of this film over sixty years ago; but Bluebeard is still well worth seeing. The film starts out slow, but it does pick up and not even an extremely overlong puppet sequence can fully degenerate the film into the realms of absolute boredom. It's not must see; but worth seeing if the chance presents itself.
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