Movies and Film

When Gambles Don’t Pay Off – Macabre (1958)

There is in fact something macabre about this film, coincidentally called Macabre and released in 1958. While it might seem like a horror movie at first glance and it was definitely marketed as such, it all soon delves into what can be called a thriller and it does do that before it finally reveals what inspired the name of this entire affair.

Starring William Prince as Rodney Barrett, a local doctor who lives in disgrace as the rest of the town believes him to have been seeing another woman while his wife was dying in childbirth. His career, suffice it to say, never recovered from that and most of his days would be spent in an office that would see no business while his nurse Polly Baron fawned over him, her being not-so-secretly in love with him. One day there comes a ransom demand as his daughter has been kidnapped and buried alive and together he and Polly seek her out in the local graveyard, trying to think of just where she might be while the film cuts to other players in the game as well as flashing back to the past and showcasing moments from Dr. Barrett’s life that may or may not pertain to the current situation. It is not long before the truth of the matter comes out about everything leaving the audience and the members of the community in shock.

This might not have been a blockbuster of a film had it been given an A+ cast and a little more polish to the script but it is a solid little production that keeps its viewers somewhat on the edge of their seats, wondering just where it is headed and if they will, in fact, rescue the little girl at the center of it all. Director William Castle uses a deft hand at bringing it to the big screen and the veteran knows how to keep the tension going while weaving in a much larger mystery until he finally brings it all-around towards the end of the movie in a finale that was not seen coming, though perhaps if one really paid attention to the clues throughout, they might have been pieced together. Prince does a great job in the lead though Jacqueline Scott as Polly might have been even better, the woman playing not only the lovestruck nurse but also the voice of reason at times. Susan Morrow would star as the other woman while Jim Backus would portray the local police chief and altogether, made for a fine little cast.  Factor in some decent cinematography, a graveyard setting, a sordid affair, a jealous police chief and more and this movie has more than enough ingredients to be a success.

Macabre definitely lives up to its name through the actions of the main character who plays a game of life and death with bodies strewn along the way. He competed in a long game of his own devising and perhaps it did not go exactly to plan but he would almost win out in the end which sadly, was not enough. A laudable B thriller, perhaps a little slowly paced during certain moments but good for those times when needing something to wind down with.

3 out of 5

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