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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


BLACK FRIDAY (1940). Director: Arthur Lubin.

When his friend Professor Kingsley (Stanley Ridges) is killed in an accident at the same time as a gangster, Red Cannon, Dr. Sovac (Boris Karloff) transplants the gangster's brain into Kingsley's body. Right away you can see the problem with this, especially when at first Kingsley unaccountably retains his own memories and personality. Later on, of course, Kingsley begins acting like the hoodlum whose brain he acquired. [There's some attempt to intimate that parts of both brains were combined in one cranium, but this is never really made clear.] In the meantime, Sovac hopes that Kinsgley can remember where "he" hid some loot so that he, Sovac, can use it to fund some experiments. But Kingsley seems more interested in getting revenge on fellow mobster Eric Marnay (Bela Lugosi) and the henchmen who were responsible for his death. Ridges makes an impressive transition from the meek and kindly professor to the homicidal Red Cannon and back again, often at inopportune moments. Anne Nagel of Winners of the West and The Secret Code gives a flavorful performance as an old girlfriend of Red's. Black Friday is not a bad movie, but it's more of a gangster picture than a horror film. Karloff and Lugosi have not a single scene together, and Lugosi, in particular, has little to do. The movie is really a showcase for Ridges, who gives an excellent dual peformance. James Craig of The Cyclops, Winners of the West, and While the City Sleeps has a small role as a reporter. Generally fast-paced.

Verdict: A waste of the talents of Karloff and Lugosi but Ridges certainly scores. **1/2.

1 comment:

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