Hal Moffat who is taking wholesale revenge by murdering those he holds responsible for his predicament, is befriended by Helen Paige, a blind piano teacher, and he develops a warmth for her that leads him to add thievery and robbery - no big deal, he is out there anyway - to his murders so that she can be provided with the money for an operation.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
First, before I begin, I would like to point out that this film may very well be the first Hollywood prequel, with THE BRUTE MAN being a prequel to HOUSE OF HORRORS(1945). Most so called "expert" film critics claim 1949's ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST (a prequel to THE LITTLE FOXES) as the first Hollywood prequel. They are wrong I tell you! As I have pointed out else where, film firsts should be noted and applauded, even if the film(s) is/are otherwise unremarkable. Now that I've gotten that out of the way...
THE BRUTE MAN is not a very good film. The film has good a opening scene with Hal (Hatton) being chased by police. These opening scenes have an effective "film noir" feel to them. However the film quickly goes down hill after this and plods around from incident to incident. The film is not helped at all by the fact that Hatton was not an actor at all. He was more of human prop. He has just to much dialog, which he often seems to stumble over (I don't know if his condition made speaking difficult.) He would have been far more effective if the script didn't require him to deliver a lot of lines, or none at all as in his horror star debut PEARL OF OF DEATH, where he was mute and was used effectively. When ever Hatton utters a line, he becomes comical, not frightening. Over all THE BRUTE MAN is basically just another sub par horror thriller.
What makes THE BRUTE MAN so worthy of scorn is the tasteless way the film mirrors Hattons real life story. In the film Hal is a handsome college athlete who becomes disfigured when exposed to gas. In real life Hatton was a handsome high school athlete who was exposed to a deadly gas while fighting in World War 1. He suffered for years in great pain from the attack and was in and out of hospitals. Hatton claimed his exposure to the gas brought about his disfiguring condition. To exploit his tragic real life story in a cheap horror film was in pretty bad taste. Now, I understand Hatton was paid well for his role, but I wonder if he ever felt uncomfortable having his tragic real life story being exploited in a cheesy horror picture like this.
Hatton died before this film was released. So did Hollywoods interest in making horror films. So did the "old" Universal, being bought out and merging with International pictures. It's almost certain if Hatton lived, he would have had his contract dumped by the studio's new owners and gone back to being what he had been before his short, dubious fame as a horror film star; a full time sports writer and occasional bit player.
One note: This film was produced by the old Universal, but by the time this film was ready for release, Universal was now Universal-International. The new studio was now a "prestige" studio, and horror films were not prestigious. So the studio had minor studio Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) release the film. Some reviewers in 1946 were fooled into thinking that film was produced by PRC and noted that the film had better production values than previous PRC films, not knowing the film was actually a Universal production.
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