Bluebeard (1944) DVD

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Edgar G. Ulmer reached the height of his career in 1934 when he directed the surrealistic horror classic The Black Cat. He planned to follow with a production of Bluebeard with Boris Karloff, but before he could go through with this plan, personal problems between him and the head of Universal got Ulmer fired from the studio and blackballed from Hollywood for years.

By 1944, he’d worked his way back up to a contract with Poverty Row’s cheapest studio, PRC, where he was nevertheless making films of striking artistic vision that also managed to turn a tidy profit. After months of pleading, he finally convinced producer Leon Fromkess to let him make Bluebeard at last.

Instead of sticking to the historic tale of Giles de Rais, Ulmer updated the story. His Bluebeard is Gaston Morell — artist, puppeteer, and serial killer, sawing terror in the streets of 19th-century Paris. Ulmer’s uniquely surreal perspective, along with atmospheric camerawork by fellow Hollywood outcast Eugen Schufftan and the casting of tall, gaunt John Carradine in the lead, produced a little gem of a thriller — all on a shoestring budget.

All Day’s digitally remastered transfer is accompanied by the terrific short documentary Bluebeard Revealed, which includes interviews with surviving crew members and rare color footage of the shooting of the puppetry scenes. There’s also a lovely reproduction of the original 8-page pressbook.

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