Bewitched, 1945, Arch Oboler

Double Feature

The Mark of the Whistler (1944)

Studio: Columbia; Regie: William Castle; Drehbuch: George Bricker, Cornell Woolrich; Kamera: George Meehan; Darsteller: Richard Dix, Janis Carter, Porter Hall, Paul Guilfoyle, John Calvert, Matt Willis. 16mm (von 35mm), sw, 60 min

Bewitched (1945)

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM); Regie, Drehbuch: Arch Oboler; Kamera: Charles Salerno Jr.; Musik: Bronislau Kaper; Darsteller: Phyllis Thaxter, Edmund Gwenn, Henry H. Daniels Jr., Addison Richards, Kathleen Lockhart, Francis Pierlot, Sharon McManus. 16mm (von 35mm), sw, 65 min
 
Bald nach dem Start der populären Radioshow The Whistler begann Columbia eine Serie von Adaptionen: In sieben der acht B-Filme spielte Richard Dix. Nach einem Drehbuch von Cornell Woolrich gibt sich Dix in The Mark of the Whistler unrechtmäßig als Inhaber eines Bankkontos aus und gerät dadurch in beträchtliche Schwierigkeiten. Kultregisseur William Castles zweiter Whistler-Film zeigt seine Vorliebe für Vaudeville – besonders im kühn homoerotischen Nahaufnahmen-Showdown, der Dix' Spiel eine fast komische Note verleiht. Bewitched war das mit Spannung erwartete Regiedebüt von Arch Oboler, der als Enfant terrible des Hörspiels mit Orson Welles verglichen wurde. Die Hollywood- Einladung erfolgte zwangsläufig, Oboler adaptierte zum Einstieg sein eigenes Hörspiel Alter Ego: Eine Frau wird von einer rätselhaften inneren Stimme geleitet, die sie zwingt, eine mordbereite neue Identität anzunehmen. Bemerkenswert sind Bronislau Kapers schwermütige Filmmusik, Phyllis Thaxter in der Hauptrolle sowie die von Radiostar (und Noir-Kultfigur in spe) Audrey Totter mit verbitterter Eloquenz gesprochene, unheimliche innere Stimme. (H. G.)
 
Prints courtesy of Harvard Film Archive


Aus dem Katalog zur Retrospektive:

Not long after the debut of the popular radio mystery series The Whistler, Columbia launched a series of adaptations, seven starring veteran actor Richard Dix as a disoriented every-man caught in a self-destructive spiral and mysteriously accompanied by the sardonic, almost sinister, commentary by the unseen whistling host taking obvious pleasure in the inevitable downfall and punishment of Dix's sad-sack antiheroes. Co-scripted by the great Cornell Woolrich, The Mark of the Whistler follows Dix as a fallen man reaching for a fallen star, a park bench derelict who happens upon an improbable scheme to impersonate the owner of an unclaimed bank account advertised in a local paper. The film was the second in the schadenfreude series directed by William Castle whose trademark stylistic gusto and vaudevillian flair is wonderfully evident in the boldly homoerotic close-up showdowns that give almost comic tension to Dix's dangerous game, not to mention the overthe-top Cossack-themed night club complete with giant flaming shish-kebabs and knife wielding dancers. (Haden Guest)

Bewitched is an audaciously stylized psychodrama that marked the keenly anticipated directorial debut of Arch Oboler, a brilliant enfant terrible of radio drama whose popular horror series Lights Out and scandalous Adam and Eve parody with none other than Charlie McCarthy and Mae West in the biblical roles earned him regular comparison with Orson Welles. Oboler accepted the inevitable invitation to Hollywood where he worked successfully as a screenwriter before directing this striking adaptation of his own celebrated radio play Alter Ego. "There are dark corners of the human mind we know nothing about ..." confesses an eminent psychiatrist, as Bewitched flashes back to study the strange symptoms of his most enigmatic patient, a beautiful bride-tobe possessed by a dark inner voice that compels her to violently reject and destroy her glittering debutante life by fleeing to the other side of the tracks and adapting a new but dangerously unstable identity. Especially effective in viscerally evoking the young woman's struggle are the moody score by  underappreciated Polish émigré composer Bronislau Kaper and the embittered inner voice hissed with demonic fury by radio actress turned noir vixen Audrey Totter. (Haden Guest)

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