Thursday, March 3, 2011
STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP
STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP ( 1946 ) Writer/director: Frank Wisbar.
A small town in the swamp has a secret: a man who was executed years ago (Charles Middleton, most famous as Ming the Merciless from the Flash Gordon serials) may have been innocent. Now he haunts the swamp and strangles those with whom he comes into contact. Marie (Rosemary La Planche), the daughter of the latest victim who ran the ferry, moves back to town and takes over her late father's position as ferryman [woman]. She is befriended by the Sanders (Robert Barrat and Effie Laird aka Parnell) and falls in love with their son, Chris (Blake Edwards, who later became a writer and director and married Julie Andrews). Wisbar based this on a film he did earlier in Germany. While the story may not stand up to close inspection, Strangler of the Swamp should be taken as a dream-like allegory, and works well on that level. The film is well-acted, rich with atmosphere, and well-photographed and directed. Middletown has little dialogue but plenty of presence as the furious ghost. Nice score by Alexander Steinert. La Planche is very expressive and talented and should have had a much bigger career. Besides a string of bit parts she appeared in Wisbar's Devil Bat's Daughter and a couple of cliffhanger serials.
Verdict: Slight yet oddly substantial. ***.