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Reginald Le Borg
Lon Chaney Jr.,
Marcel De Lange is a struggling sculptor whose work and sanity are derided by the New York art critics. After waspishly officious critic F. Holmes Harmon ruins a sale for De Lange by dismissing his expressionistic cubist work as "tripe" and later gloating about it in his column, the distraught artist goes to the river to drown himself. There he discovers the half-drowned body of the notorious serial killer, the Creeper, and takes him back to his studio to recover. Feeling empowered by the friendship of the acromegalic sociopath, De Lange tasks him with murdering the critics who have pilloried him in print. When successful commercial artist Steve Morrow is wrongly suspected of the crimes, his art critic girlfriend Joan Medford decides to follow her instinct about a mysterious bust De Lange has suspiciously covered in his studio, and she decides to snoop around. Written by
This low-grade Universal chiller has just been announced as an upcoming DVD release but, intended as part of a collection of similar movies that I already had in my possession, I decided to acquire it from other channels rather than wait for that legitimate release. Which is just as well, since the end result was not anything particularly special (if decently atmospheric at that): for starters, the plot is pretty weak even though in a way it anticipates the Vincent Price vehicle THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973) albeit without any of that film's campy gusto. What we have here, in fact, is a penniless sculptor (Martin Kosleck) whom we even see sharing his measly plate of cheese with his pet cat! who, upon finding himself on the receiving end of art critic Alan Napier's vitriolic pen one time too many, decides to end it all by hurling himself into the nearby river. However, while contemplating just that action, he is anticipated by Rondo Hatton's escaped killer dubbed "The Creeper" and, naturally enough, saves the poor guy's life with the intention of having the latter do all the dirty work for him in gratitude! Although it is supposedly set in the art circles of New York, all we really see at work is Kosleck and commercial painter Robert Lowery (who keeps painting the same statuesque blonde girl Joan Shawlee over and over in banal poses how is that for art?) who, conveniently enough, is engaged to a rival art critic (Virginia Grey) of Napier's! Before long, the latter is discovered with his spine broken and Lowery is suspected; but then investigating detective Bill Goodwin gets the bright idea of engaging another critic to publish a scathing review of Lowery's work (I did not know that publicity sketches got reviewed!!) so as to gauge how violent his reaction is going to be! In the meantime, Kosleck deludes himself into thinking that he is creating his masterpiece by sculpting Hatton's uniquely craggy and recognizable visage which, needless to say, attracts the attention of the constantly visiting Grey (we are led to believe that she lacks material for her weekly column) much to the chagrin of both artist and model. Bafflingly, although The Creeper is fully aware of how Grey looks (thanks to her aforementioned haunting of Kosleck's flea-bitten pad), he bumps off Shawlee who had by then become Goodwin's girl! in Lowery's apartment and, overhearing Kosleck talking to (you guessed it) Grey about his intention to dump him as the fall guy for the police, sends the slow-witted giant off his deep end even down to destroying his own now-completed stony image. Curiously enough, although this was Hatton's penultimate film, his name in the credits is preceded by the epithet "introducing"!
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