Thursday, July 28, 2011
BLUEBEARD'S TEN HONEYMOONS
"One round trip. The other one way." -- Landru to ticket agent while taking victim to his cottage.
Loosely based on the murderous career of Henri Landru [also the basis for Chaplins' Monsieur Verdoux] -- although it follows the basic facts accurately enough -- this stars the estimable George Sanders as a man who woos wealthy widows and then murders them. In real life, Landru's motivation was essentially profit, but in this film he needs money so he can shower his trampy girlfriend Odette (Corinne Calvet) with gifts. Although in real life most of Landru's victims were elderly, in this movie the shame is that they are very attractive and warm middle-aged women who would have made Landru a much better and more loving mate than Odette. As in real life, the sister of one of the victims helps the police track Landru down. Sanders is terrific as Landru, backed by a highly able supporting cast, including George Coulouris [Citizen Kane; Womaneater; many others] as a furniture dealer. Fast-paced, darkly amusing, and memorable. Wilder also directed Killers from Space and Manfish, but this is vastly superior to both.
Verdict: Whatever its flaws, the picture -- and Sanders -- are damned entertaining. ***1/2.