This is one messed up movie. Laird Cregar is one messed up dude. The story behind Cregar's life might be even more interesting than the movie but the movie is also quite good.
Cregar was a 300 pound behemoth cast as sinister villains. He wanted to be a leading man. This movie called for him to be a tortured artist who during his blackouts would commit murders but then not recall them later. He decided that he wanted to treat it as a springboard to becoming a romantic lead. So he lost 100 pounds for the role but that led to severe health problems. Right after the completion of the movie, he had stomach surgery. A few days later he died of a heart attack at the age of 28. The DVD features a fascinating short documentary about Cregar so if you rent this, make sure to watch that as well.
Mondale would love this movie because Guy Fawkes Day is heavily featured in a chilling scene where Cregar tries to dispose of a body on top of a pile of burning fake corpses.
The climatic scene of a crazed Cregar playing the piano as a burning building collapses around him is one of the most memorable endings to a film I've seen in a long time. Normally, I wouldn't give away plot points like that but with a movie like this, the ending is pretty obvious. It is watching how the filmmakers get there that is the fun. Creepy fun.
Directed by John Brahm
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