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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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Documentary about the great 1940s horror movie producer Val Lewton, featured on the 2005 DVD release "The Val Lewton Horror Collection."

Director: Constantine Nasr
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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'
Jacques Tourneur ...
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)  »

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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 »

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References Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Master At Making 'B' Look Like 'A'
17 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Val Lewton was another one of these guys (Sol Wurtzel was another) who was terrific at making "A" pictures on a "B" budget. To this day, Lewton's horror films are fairly well-known and receive wonderful notices by critics and film historians.

This look at the somewhat-but-not altogether famous filmmaker is a 77-minute very interesting excursion that was made, I believe, for the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) network, and was aired several times recently (mid January of 2008). I assume it will run numerous times on the network, in future months. Director Martin Scorcese narrates this tale about Lewton, his history and his films.

Some of the comments that particularly caught my ear, made by either Scorcese, Val Lewton's son, or by someone else in here, included:

"His movies moved and spoke to audiences in a different way....Lewton's films were more terror than horror....He was always at odds with his bosses but never satisfied with is own achievements....There is no film footage of him, no voice recordings of him.......He had no inkling he would be remembered by posterity......Many scenes in his films reflected his own phobias and views on life, as an outsider......We are all potentially evil and possible murderers."

Some of Lewton's films are examined in detail, beginning with "The Cat People," followed by "I Walked With A Zombie," "The Leopard Man," "Curse Of The Cat People," and to a lesser extant, films that followed those. It was interesting to hear about his struggles with RKO and his unexpected success later with Boris Karloff in several of his movies ("The Body Snatcher" being his best, in many people's opinion.) We also hear from directors Roger Corman, Jacques Tourneur (who worked with Lewton on a number of films) and the famous Robert Wise.

This is a long documentary - and it is definitely slanted in favor of Lewton - and might have been more effectively edited down to an hour, but still pretty fascinating. I recognized the voice of actor Elias Koteas, who was reading some of the comments Lewton made over the years, almost in dairy or autobiographical form.

Some of the Lewton's film clips shown here will just about give you chills watching them. This man was a master at frightening you with things unseen.


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