6.1/10
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14 user 4 critic

The Dark Tower (1943)

A struggling circus finds salvation in the form of an exciting new twist on their high-wire act.

Director:

John Harlow

Writers:

Sam H. Harris (based on his production of the play), George S. Kaufman (based on the play by) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ben Lyon ... Phil Danton
Anne Crawford ... Mary
David Farrar ... Tom Danton
Herbert Lom ... Stephen Torg
Frederick Burtwell Frederick Burtwell ... Willie Wainwright
William Hartnell ... Jim Towers (as Bill Hartnell)
Josephine Wilson Josephine Wilson ... Dora Shogun
Elsie Wagstaff ... Eve Wainwright (as Elsie Wagstaffe)
J.H. Roberts ... Dr. Wilson
Aubrey Mallalieu Aubrey Mallalieu ... Doctor
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Storyline

High drama beneath the big top. Forbidden romance, rivalry, murder, betrayed friends. A retired hypnotist falls in love with a trapeze artiste whose jealous partner is the brother of the circus owner. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1943 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Dantonmysteriet See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film had its U. S. television premiere on Turner Classic Movies on 24 September 2007 during TCM's festival of films made by Warner Brothers at Teddington Studios in the UK. See more »

Quotes

Willie Wainwright: Ladies and gentlemen, once more we bring to your town the thrill of a lifetime. The unparalled, the inimical, unrivalled Empire Circus. Come in your thousands and enjoy this feast of equine dexterity and acrobatic marvels we shall place before your astounded gaze. Never before in the history of this town has such a gay galaxy of talent and of beauty been set before you.
See more »

Connections

Remake of The Man with Two Faces (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
On the surface it's a circus movie -- but it's much darker than that.
14 March 2012 | by lordreithSee all my reviews

A curious little movie that deserves to be better known. Based on "The Dark Tower," a play by George S. Kaufman and Alexander Woolcott, which was also the inspiration for the better-known "The Man With Two Faces," it shares little except for its title and the theme of hypnotism with the boilerplate melodrama by the two celebrated Algonquin Roundtable wits of the 1930s.

Well-acted,well-written, well-shot, and well-lit, this motion picture operates on two levels, both of them terrifying. Superficially, it's a neat horror film starring an excellent Herbert Lom as "Torg," a Peter Lorre-type -- a rather off-putting and unhappy gentleman from some Central European country who, while absolutely loathing people, can mesmerize them to do his bidding. Ingratiating himself into a rundown provincial traveling circus in a pre-war England -- think an anglicized "La Strada" -- he makes himself indispensable, turning around the fortunes of this one-lion show.

On another level, the circus can be interpreted as a metaphor for Nazi Germany, with the Lom character standing in for the master propagandist Dr. Josef Goebbels, sans a limp. Every utterance of his drives home this resemblance, as "Torg," morphs from just plain Torg to Mr. Torg to ... Doctor Torg, using his power "to cloud men's minds" to bully his way into a position of power. To draw attention to this subtext, the circus parade features a platoon of uniformed blondes marching with arms extended (are they Sieg Heiling?), and a Col. Blimpish ringmaster who could be a stand-in for Field Marshal von Hindenburg.

This secondary theme isn't all that obvious,and perhaps it may not even exist (as Sigmund Freud himself said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar) but for one viewer it does lift this 1943 movie out of the realm of still another film of fright and frisson and instead, with its unspoken chilling and sinister message, places it in Hell.


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