BLUEBEARD (1944). Director: Edgar G. Ulmer.
John Carradine, always an under-rated actor (largely because of all of the cheap genre productions he appeared in) is excellent in this study of a serial killer/painter who murders women when he's not doing portraits or putting on charming puppet operas such as Faust. The film goes in for a kind of psychological approach, focusing on the killer himself (who is revealed almost from the first) instead of unfolding as a who-done-it. An interesting quality of the picture is its unpredictability – you're never quite certain which potential victims will be saved and which ones won't. While the “facts” of the film may never quite jell with what we now know about serial killers, on certain aspects it's surprisingly on target. Recently the theory was posited that Jack the Ripper was actually the painter Walter Sickert. It could be said that this movie was prescient were it not for the fact that the Ripper/Sickert theory is full of holes.
Verdict: Worth a look. **1/2.