A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.
There are many fine scenes in this film but it's basically Cregar's show from start to finish, and he does not disappoint. His performance is so brilliant, empathetic, nuanced, and for all the melodrama, utterly believable, that it's impossible not to focus on him at the expense of the rest of the movie.
Perhaps the best way to describe Cregar's acting style here is to imagine A Streetcar Named Desire being performed entirely inside someone's mind, with the characters of Stanley and Blanche being played by the same actor, in a Victorian setting, disguised as a murder story. One wonders where Cregar found the inspiration for such work. He was one of the greatest actors to ever grace the screen, and one of the most enigmatic. American-born, he tended to play Brits. Unlike his fellow American Anglophile actor and friend, Vincent Price, he had no education to speak of. Within a span of less than five years he went from supporting player to star. In this movie he is top-billed over Fox hottie Linda Darnell. Not too shabby for a morbidly obese man several inches over six feet in height who, while still in his twenties, was playing men well into their forties.
Cregar had a way of making even accomplished co-stars like Cedric Hardwicke and George Sanders look like amateurs by comparison. He wasn't even trying to. One should watch his films to see what a great actor is like. His roles weren't always great, but he was. Forget Sean Penn and his tantrums, or Meryl Streep's mannered Yale Drama School flair for accents. Cregar was the real deal. The only American actor I can think of who could give him a run for his money would be Brando. Sadly, Cregar was as tormented as he was gifted, was full of self-hatred, for a variety of reasons, and went on a crash diet after completing this film in the hope of becoming a romantic leading man. But he lost the weight so fast it killed him. He was twenty-eight years old.
- Aug 18, 2002