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Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007)

Martin Scorsese narrates this tribute to Val Lewton, the producer of a series of memorable low-budget horror films for RKO Studios. Raised by his mother and his aunt, his films often ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Narrator (voice)
...
Val Lewton (voice)
...
Himself (voice) (archive footage)
Val E. Lewton ...
Himself, son of Val Lewton
Alexander Nemerov ...
Himself, author of 'Icons of Grief'
...
Himself
Glen Gabbard ...
Himself, Dr., author of 'Psychiatry and the Cinema'
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself
Geoffrey O'Brien ...
Himself, author of 'The Phantom Empite'
Ann Carter ...
Herself (as Ann Carter Newton)
...
Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Martin Scorsese narrates this tribute to Val Lewton, the producer of a series of memorable low-budget horror films for RKO Studios. Raised by his mother and his aunt, his films often included strong female characters who find themselves in difficult situations and who have to grow up quickly. He is best remembered for the horror films he made at RKO starting in 1940. Starting with only a title - his first was The Cat People - he would meticulously oversee every aspect of the film's completion. Although categorized as horror films, his films never showed a monster, leaving it all to the viewers imagination, assisted by music, mood and lighting. Written by garykmcd

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2 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles' voice is heard narrating the trailer of Citizen Kane (1941) as a brief clip of it is shown. See more »

Crazy Credits

All credited performers following Robert Wise are identified by a graphic or orally by the narrator. See more »

Connections

Features Bedlam (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A good documentary on the films of Val Lewton...
14 January 2008 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

VAL LEWTON gave us many wonderful horror films throughout the '40s, but at one time he worked as a reader for David O. Selznick and told the producer his feelings about GONE WITH THE WIND: "This is the biggest piece of rubbish I've ever read. You'll be making the biggest mistake of your career if you decide to make this." (paraphrasing, of course). Well, he may never qualify as an accurate prophet, but he did know how to use subtle horror to make films like THE CAT PEOPLE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE.

MARTIN SCORSESE narrates this thoughtful documentary on the producer with many interesting film clips from the low-budget horror films that are now considered film classics of their kind by a man who was "drawn to the darkness of the shadow world." He trusted many of his associates when he began filming the features at RKO with men like Jacques Tourneur, Nicholas Musuraca, DeWitt Bodeen, Roy Webb, and later Mark Robson. His films had an hypnotic effect on audiences, providing subtle horror through the power of suggestion.

In private, he was a sensitive man, never fully satisfied with his work or his assignments, but happily married to a woman who understood him and his needs. He was really not tough enough to be a Hollywood survivor and had a few heart attacks before the major one that killed him at the age of 46.

The documentary tells how he ignited the career of BORIS KARLOFF when Karloff was assigned to films like ISLE OF THE DEAD, THE BODY SNATCHERS and BEDLAM. As the war drew to a close, people began to turn away from horror films and Lewton's career began to decline when the defining films of his earlier career were no longer being made.

His low-budget films really were low-budget: for CAT PEOPLE he was given a budget of $150,000, but the film was a huge hit, made a million at the box-office when only A-budget features made as much and stayed in big city theaters longer than CITIZEN KANE that year!


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