Bluebeard (1944)

bluebeard poster 1944 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good cast and story with potential

Oddly paced and hard to find quality copies of the movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Bluebeard

Studio: Producers Releasing Corporation

Genre(s): Horror/Mystery/Suspense/B-Movie

Release Date(s): November 11, 1944

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

bluebeard john carradine

I paint you, I must kill you!

A killer is stalking the streets of Paris with bodies washing up in the Seine, and women are frightened by the Bluebeard stalking them.  Lucille (Jean Parker) tries to put the fear behind her, and when she meets an intriguing puppeteer named Gaston Morrell (John Carradine), she feels an instant attraction.  Morrell is hiding a secret, but a secret that he often puts into paintings.  Gaston’s work attracts the attention of Inspector Lefevre (Nils Asther) who thinks that finding the painter could mean finding the killer.

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, Bluebeard is a low-budget horror psychological thriller.  The movie received mostly positive reviews and is in the public domain.

The classic story of Bluebeard is almost a marker for early horror.  An innocent (yet curious) woman falls in love and discovers her husband has a deadly secret.  This Bluebeard “modernizes” the story (setting it in Paris in the past) and has a heavy psychological explanation to Morrell’s crimes.  Bluebeard isn’t the most horrific thriller, but it does feel like an early attempt at something like Psycho.

bluebeard ludwing stossel john carradine

So…you’re saying our partnership is cancelled?

The movie is pretty oddly paced.  Though short, a large part of the film is taken up by a puppet performance by Gaston of the story of Faust which does have some parallels to Gaston’s character, but it feels like the movie should be longer for the amount of time devoted to the show.  It also becomes a classic case of chance when Lucille’s sister Francine (played by Teala Loring) and her Lucille’s father (played by Henry Kolker) happen to be working with the police and become the victims of Gaston…forcing a confrontation and an explanation of his actions to Lucille.  It is the right idea, but it feels like it could have been presented better.

The cast is rather good.  John Carradine has said that the movie was his favorite performance of his movies (and he had a lot).  I also like Jean Parker who brings some heart to the movie.  Ludwig Stössel has a supporting role as the man pressuring Carradine’s character which leads to his ultimate downfall and he does well in this role.

bluebeard john carradine jean parker

Well, I’ve only known you a little while and you’ve had a pretty profound effect on my family…

The movie looks rather good, but unfortunately it has often been put through the ringer.  It isn’t easy to find a very high quality version of the film (some decent versions are floating around the internet) and that is too bad because it seems like the movie could look a lot better if it were a really clean and quality copy (also showing the importance of the protection of films…even if they are B-Movies).

Bluebeard was a fun little watch.  It was on the track to being a really good movie, but hits some road bumps that make it a decent movie instead.  While called “Bluebeard”, it feels like this is an unnecessary titling of the film and that the movie would have stood out better as a psychological thriller without drawing parallels to the Bluebeard story.  If you have time for a quick watch, Bluebeard is worth seeking out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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