6.9/10
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Bedlam (1946)

Approved | | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 10 May 1946 (USA)
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »

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Writers:

(suggested by The William Hogarth painting Bedlam Plate #8 "The Rake's Progress"), (screenplay) (as Carlos Keith) | 1 more credit »
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2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Billy House ...
Richard Fraser ...
Glen Vernon ...
The Gilded Boy (as Glenn Vernon)
...
...
Oliver Todd (as Jason Robards)
Leyland Hodgson ...
That Devil Wilkes (as Leland Hodgson)
Joan Newton ...
Dorothea the Dove
...
Mistress Sims
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Storyline

Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries to bring support to reforming Bedlam, but the cruel Master Sims who runs it has her committed there. The inmates, however, have the last say. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sensational Secrets of Infamous Mad-house EXPOSED! (1946 one-sheet poster)

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 May 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chamber of Horrors  »

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

In one of the street scenes, a flower seller is heard calling. "Lavender, sweet blooming lavender,/ Six bunches a penny today, /Lavender, sweet blooming lavender,/ Ladies buy it while you may." This is an actual old street cry from London. See more »

Goofs

Nell Bowen's bird is a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, native to Australia. They were not imported to Europe until after 1788. See more »

Quotes

Lord Mortimer: A capital fellow, this Sims, a capital fellow.
Nell Bowen: If you ask me, M'Lord, he's a stench in the nostrils, a sewer of ugliness, and a gutter brimming with slop.
See more »

Connections

Featured in TJ and the All Night Theatre: Bedlam (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Are we lovers, that you thee and thou me?"
20 July 2005 | by (Eastbourne, England) – See all my reviews

I've been a fan of Boris Karloff movies ever since I was sixteen, when Channel 4 had a late night season on Friday nights, showing great films like The Man They Couldn't Hang and The Boogie Man Will Get You. I really wish we'd have a VCR, as these films don't appear to have seen the light of day since. I've only seen Bedlam for the first time recently, but it came with great credentials (Boris Karloff AND Val Lewton) so I was more than willing to give it a try.

Karloff was born to play Master George Sims, the man who ran Bedlam, London's solution for the mentally ill or those who needed to be put away for fear of embarrassment to their families. In all his performances he manages to combine a natural warmth and sincerity with a just a hint of sadism beneath the surface. Even when playing an all out evil bad guy, like in The Black Cat, he still manages to be charming and polite. In Bedlam he is completely convincing as he ingratiates himself with the upper classes whilst threatening both the inmates and Nell Bowen, the woman who tries to improve conditions and ends up in the Institute herself.

The atmosphere portrayed in the dank, murky chambers and corridors of Bedlam is suitably dark and oppressive, and as such it invokes pity towards those incarcerated there, rather than fear. This is also probably an extension of the pity and care that Nell herself shows towards them, despite Karloff's attempts to show her compassion as limited and hypocritical.

My only real complaint about the film is the drawn out scenes between Nell and her Quaker friend who constantly reminds her of the need for non-violence and love for all around her, even Karloff himself. After a while you just want her to punch him in the face! It becomes more of a romance or even melodrama, which serves to a certain extent to undermine the more sinister elements of the film. There are also several comedic scenes with Nell's benefactor Lord Mortimer which feel slightly forced into the film, as though RKO wanted this to be lighter in tone than was usual for Lewton's horror films. Despite these minor gripes, Bedlam is still worth viewing for anyone who is a fan of Karloff, or the horror films of the 1940s. The final scenes alone, where the inmates get their revenge on the cowardly Sims, make this a film that deserves its status as a classic.


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