Marsha Mitchell, a traveling dress model, stops in a southern town to see her sister who has married a Ku Klux Klansman. Marsha sees the KKK commit a murder and helps District Attorney Burt Rainey in bringing the criminals to justice.
Paul Raden (Albert Dekker), hopelessly insane son of Maxim Raden, hated owner of the Radentown mills, is in a strait jacket in a secret room in the family mansion, while the body of his father is lowered into a grave. Twenty-five years earlier, the brutal father had hurled Paul against a wall when the young boy had tried to defend his mother and, with his brain injured forever, Paul's last memory, before descending into the shadows on insanity, was his mother's agonized scream. At the graveside are Dr. Ben Saunders (Harry Carey), Paul's twin brother John (Albert Dekker) and John's wife Elaine (Frances Farmer). Pompey (Ernest Whitman'), the family servant who has cared for and guarded Paul and kept the family secret for a quarter of a century,watches from afar. That night Dr. Saunders tells John that his twin, who he thought dead, is alive as the father, refusing to commit him to an institution, had bribed the doctor to sign a false death certificate and then bury another child's body ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929-49, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. This film's initial television broadcasts took place in Chicago Monday 9 January 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2) followed by Omaha 11 January 1959 on KETV (Channel 7); sponsor resistance to its unsavory theme limited its airings, but it nevertheless surfaced in Asheville 20 May 1959 on WLOS, in Seattle 17 August 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Detroit 8 October 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Johnstown 15 October 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), and in Milwaukee 19 Octob er 1959 on WITI (Channel 6). See more »
[Not knowing Paul is the escaped serial killer, Millie gives him a gun and suggests they search the deserted Raden estate to earn the reward for his capture]
You're not afraid -- at all?
For five thousand dollars, I'm not afraid of anything, not even death!
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'Among the Living (1941)' sits in the middle-ground between film noir and horror. The horror elements are obvious: the use of twins, representing the duality of man, recalls a more literal take on the themes of Stevenson's "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde." But even the "evil" twin himself is not a monster, as he is often described. Like Frankenstein's Creature, he is merely a social outcast, corrupted by the abuse of the true monsters, and who ultimately finds it impossible to assimilate into society. Like a frightened animal, Paul Raden struggles to understand the violent, cynical world in which he's been thrust, and the injustices knowingly done to him, combined with the years of abuse he endured at the hands of a dominating father, lead him to murder out of sheer terror. In many ways, Paul resembles the character of Lennie in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," a simpleton with a brutish strength that he can't reconcile with his own child-like desires.
Though one would stop short of calling this a film noir, there are certainly traces of the necessary elements. Most prominent is the theme of hidden family secrets, of a shameful past coming back to haunt wrongdoers, as in 'The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946).' The corruptive influence of power is also referenced – as in the latter film, the primary sinner of 'Among the Living' (Raden, Sr., who is dead by the film's beginning) resides in a town that bears his name. The viewer can draw two conclusions: either that only through committing sin can a man attain power, or that from power itself is borne the desire to perpetrate crime, for he now has the means to conceal his misconduct. The latter is certainly true for the otherwise-respectable Dr. Saunders (Harry Carey), who – just once – compromised his professional integrity, and, twenty-five years later, finds that this one transgression has blackened his soul and destroyed his future.
John Raden (Albert Dekker) is the film's hapless protagonist, an honest guy who unwillingly stumbles upon his family's dirty secret. Via a succession of ill-fated coincidences, implying the forces of Fate that would later pervade the film noir movement, John finds himself on trial for murder, thrust protestingly into an ad hoc mob trial that recalls Peter Lorre's judgement in 'M (1931).' Dekker is excellent in the dual- roles of John and Paul Raden, with the "bad" half always distinguishable, not just by his grizzled beard and raggedy clothing, but by the way he carries himself: slouched shoulders, arms held awkwardly, innocent and perplexed eyes upturned at the eccentricities of this unfamiliar society. Susan Hayward plays Millie, a minor femme fatale. She's an angel when you first see her, but the way she knowingly toys with Paul's naivete is quite repulsive, and her nastiness during the courtroom trial is similarly brutal. Notably, director Stuart Heisler would progress onto full-blown noir the following year with the Hammett adaptation 'The Glass Key (1942).'
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