The Seventh Victim (1943)   Leave a comment

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Kim Hunter, in her film debut, stars as Mary Gibson, a teenage schoolgirl who leaves her sheltered world to travel to New York City’s Greenwich Village to look for her missing older sister.  After reporting her sister, Jacqueline to the Missing Person’s Bureau, Mary searches herself.

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“It’s our logo.  We put it on our new bath soap, Beelzebubbles.”

Her worries increase when Mary finds that Jacqueline gave away her successful business to a former employee, Natalie Cortez (Evelyn Brent) and that she has a noose set up in her apartment.  Spooky.

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I don’t know art, but I know what I like.

Into this mystery arrive a helpful poet, Jason (Erford Gage), a solicitous attorney, Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont), and Dr. Louis Judd, played by the often slimy/always good, Tom Conway.  Since it is a mystery, I won’t divulge too many crucial details.

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Director Mark Robson (CHAMPION) keeps us guessing throughout the story.  Where is Jacqueline Gibson?  Why don’t Jacqueline’s pals in the cult want Mary to find her?  Why does Tom Conway sound evil even when he’s saying good things?

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Good or evil, I still look dashing.

Kim Hunter and her cast mates, including Isabel Jewell and Jean Brooks, are convincing and the taut seventy-one-minute story by Charles O’Neal and DeWitt Bodeen pulls you in.  Produced by Val Lewton at RKO a year after the Jacques Tourneur classic, CAT PEOPLE, THE SEVENTH VICTIM has that same gorgeous look.  Full of shadows and dark alleys, the cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca is as much a part of the film as the script.

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See?  It’s a gorgeous film.

Musuraca also served as director of photography on CAT PEOPLE, THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE, and OUT OF THE PAST.  Roy Webb, who composed the soundtracks for THE LEOPARD MAN and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE did the music for this film and it creates a wonderful atmosphere of doom punctuated with splashes of suspense.

THE SEVENTH VICTIM, along with eight other Lewton-produced films and SHADOWS IN THE DARK, a documentary on the gifted producer, are together in a fabulous box set.  It’s worth a look.  Good stuff.

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