Strange Illusion | Chicago Reader

Strange Illusion

Edgar G. Ulmer's Hamlet, made on a negligible budget at the lowest of the poverty-row studios, PRC, in 1945. The cast includes Jimmy Lydon, Sally Eilers, and Warren William—bad actors who seem nearly comatose under Ulmer's oblivious direction. Yet despite the shoddiness of the sets, the story (transposed to the present, it becomes a tale of oedipal revenge), and almost everything else, this picture has the riveting quality of delirium—framed by dreams, the movie is a nightmare in itself. Ulmer's camera tracks and pans through thickets of expressionist shadows, paying only lip service to the action. This is less a movie than a hallucination of a movie—not one of Ulmer's best, but very characteristic of his oblique, extravagant, and dumbfounding style. 80 min.

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