Friday, October 14, 2016

Alias John Preston (1955)

Starring Betta St. John, Alexander Knox, Christopher Lee, Sandra Dorne, Pat Holt
Directed by David MacDonald
(actor & director credits courtesy

A wealthy stranger settles in a new community, and quickly becomes one of its leading citizens, but his short temper and distaste for his past point to the fact he has some disturbing secrets.

This small-scale melodrama on a modest budget might otherwise not stand out if not for the presence of Lee in one of his rare leading roles before becoming a star in horror films, and he's fascinating to watch here.  He runs through a gamut of emotions from joviality to anger to depression and paranoia, and in one memorable scene underscores his character's unease by twirling a cigarette through nervous fingers.  The script spends a bit too much time on the young man St. John jilts in favor of Lee, but becomes much more interesting when Lee takes over the film and we see the nightmares that have been haunting him.  That seems a bit prophetic of the imposing monsters that would haunt his audience's nightmares in films to come.

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