Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


THE DEVIL COMMANDS (1941). Director: Edward Dmytryk.

Dr. Julian Blair (Boris Karloff) is a kindly scientist who is devastated when his wife Helen (Shirley Warde) is hit by a car and killed. He becomes obsessed with the notion of speaking to her past the veil of death, and creates machines and odd electronic helmets that will, hopefully, enable him to do so. He teams up with Mrs. Walters (Anne Revere) , a phony medium whom he suspects has some actual powers of some kind. Meanwhile he neglects his concerned daughter Anne (Amanda Duff) and goes to an isolated area with Walters to continue his weird work in private. There the townspeople react as if he were Dr. Frankenstein himself ... This movie is mostly amusing gobbledygook -- there isn't even an attempt to explain exactly how Blair's devices meant to be used to speak to the dead are supposed to work. Karloff and Revere make a highly interesting team, however, and the picture is entertaining. There's a wild climax, and you have to see Revere in her helmet with psychic waves radiating all around her to believe it.

Verdict: There have been worse. **1/2.

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