The Seventh Victim | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Seventh Victim 

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Though not directed by an auteurist-approved figure (Mark Robson has never attracted any cult to my knowledge), this is arguably the greatest of producer Val Lewton's justly celebrated low-budget chillers (rivaled only by his 1942 Cat People)--a beautifully wrought story about the discovery of devil worshipers in Greenwich Village that fully lives up to the morbid John Donne quote that frames the action. Intricately plotted over its 71 minutes by screenwriters Charles O'Neal and De Witt Bodeen, this 1943 tale of a young woman searching for her troubled sister exudes a distilled poetry of doom that extends to all the characters as well as to the noirish bohemian atmosphere. (As a fascinating intertextual detail, the horny psychiatrist clawed to death by an offscreen feline in Cat People--played by Tom Conway, George Sanders's brother--is resurrected here.) Not to be missed; with Kim Hunter, Evelyn Brent, and Hugh Beaumont. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, September 15, 6:00, 443-3737.

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