This 1946 release is the last of Val Lewton's legendary RKO horror films, set in an 18th-century madhouse ruled by Boris Karloff. Lewton's vaunted taste and discretion were beginning to get the best of him by the end of the series: the mise-en-scene here is based on Hogarth, and the entire film has a stolid, stagy quality absent from the fluid best of Lewton's work. Perhaps that's the fault of director Mark Robson, who lacks the lyrical imagination of Lewton's finest collaborator, Jacques Tourneur (I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man). Still, Nicholas Musaraca's excellent cinematography contributes a number of fine effects, and there's a strange and witty aside on the invention of movies. With Anna Lee and Billy House. 79 min.
By Dave Kehr