Thursday, June 14, 2012

162. The Seventh Victim (1943)

Running Time: 71 minutes
Directed By: Mark Robson
Written By: DeWitt Bodeen, Charles O'Neal
Main Cast: Kim Hunter, Hugh Beaumont, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Erford Gage
Click here to view the trailer


After two failed attempts at seeing the "must see" qualities in the Val Lewton's produced pictures from THE BOOK, I finally get the chance to check one out that didn't make me want to bash my head through the television screen.

Mary (Hunter) is a young woman, who, while attending boarding school, gets word that her sister Jacqueline (Brooks) has gone missing. Jacqueline is the one who raised Mary and the one who pays her tuition at school, so Mary is forced to leave school to search for her. Mary's first stop is Jacqueline's cosmetics business, where Mary finds out that Jacqueline sold the business several months earlier. Mary follows up on many leads and eventually lands in the law office of Gregory Ward (Beaumont). Ward also has an interest in finding Jacqueline, citing that he's in love with her. Mary and Gregory team up and continue their investigation, which lead them to the doorsteps of a poet (Gage) and a psychiatrist (Conway), all of whom have an interest in Jacqueline. Add to the mix a murdered private investigator and a group of devil worshipers and you have a fun, suspenseful little picture.

It certainly wasn't the greatest thing I've watched recently or anything, but as far as Val Lewton films go, it was in a much higher league that "Cat People" and "I Walked with a Zombie", a pair of stinkers, if you ask me. The film keeps things fairly simple, instead of trying to throw in a bunch of mumbo jumbo (ala. "I Walked with a Zombie") and we're treated to a fun little suspense tale. Much like "The Third Man" and it's character of Harry Lime, "The Seventh Victim" eludes to the character of Jacqueline, without ever introducing her, for much of the film, so that when she finally shows up it's a huge moment. I also tend to like films where the main character is sent around a certain city, following various leads, while they hunt down someone. "The Seventh Victim" mixes horror, suspense and even a few elements of noir to shape a very enjoyable picture, one that is really easy to enjoy.

The film also features some magnificent shots, such as a shot of Mary in the shower, while the silhouette of our main villain stands outside the curtain. A particular sequence involving Jacqueline running through the streets of New York, while the sounds of the city send her into a paranoid fit, sticks out as a memorable one. Sure, it has some a few flaws too, but it's just a bunch of little nit-picky things and nothing really worth delving into here. The film is on the short side and the story of the the missing sister is a little underwhelming, once we find out why she's been missing, but it all works, if you let it work.

RATING: 6.5/10  I can't go too high, but for a Val Lewton movie that's as good as a '10'. I wonder if any of his other films are worth checking out?


June 14, 2012  12:36am


  1. Val Lewton was a strike out for me. I happened to watch Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, and The Seventh Victim all in the last week (it wasn't planned - I recorded them them from TCM recently and the system I use to determine what to watch next had them all close together), and none of them did much for me. I agree that this one was the best of the bunch, though. I liked the noir-ish cinematography, and the clue-following plot. But the cult at the end of the clues wasn't really all that menacing, and I never came to care for any of the characters, so I wasn't invested in the story. Another gripe is that the romance angle didn't work at all, and didn't add to the story, either. I didn't see anything in the acting or subtext that indicated Gregory was developing feelings for Mary; it was just stated in the dialogue and I couldn't really figure out why he felt that way. I had the same issue with the other Lewton movies: the romance was stated rather than shown, and I never saw a good indication why the characters would fall in love in the first place. Add in that horror isn't my favorite genre anyway, and you have three movies that aren't for me.

    1. As time has gone by, I seem to have forgotten most of the bullet points of this one, which means a '6.5' is WAY too high....

      I'd be interested to know the method in which you determine what to watch next...

  2. Yeah, this one's pretty forgettable. I doubt I'll remember much about it a year from now.

    My system to determine what to watch next is kind of a geeky Rube Goldberg contraption of a spreadsheet that weighs a number of factors and priorities. I try to balance getting movies from Netflix, the library, the DVR, and YouTube. I try to prioritize watching Blu-Rays over other formats, but within any given format, I'd choose the oldest movie available to at the time. I am also constantly trying to get movies onto my DVR, so sometimes I have to focus on watching those to make room for others that will be coming in. And if I have something from the library that is due back soon or a film is leaving Netflix streaming, it will get special consideration. The end result is a complex formula that tells me what should be next.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I also give special consideration to movies that may be expiring from any streaming services. When I first started the BOOK, I didn't have DVR, so I took to recording a lot of things onto VHS tapes, which I kept...just in case.


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