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Greetings, and welcome to VIEWING THE CLASSICS. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage movies from the early days of cinema through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery movies. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find a Film Index of all my reviews, links to the reviews organized by cast members, directors, and other contributors, and links to my reviews of the films of talented young director Joshua Kennedy.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Black Friday (1940)

Starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges, Anne Nagel, Anne Gwynne
Directed by Arthur Lubin
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A doctor uses a gangster's brain tissue in a life-saving transplant for a dear friend, but when he sees traces of the gangster's memories in the man's mind, he tries to unlock them to find a hidden fortune. 

The final teaming of Karloff and Lugosi for Universal is an entertaining film, but disappointing as the two horror icons are on far from equal terms, as Lugosi plays the minor role of a rival gangster.  I've heard Lugosi originally was to play Karloff's part as the doctor before Karloff decided to take over that role, and Universal must not have had enough confidence in the actor to give him the part of the dual-minded college professor, eventually played by Ridges.  I think it would have been fascinating to have seen Lugosi play either of those roles instead of the one he does play, but it's still good to see him here.  Despite all this, Ridges gives a fine performance, convincingly creating two different characters, with a little help from the makeup department, and Boris is always fun to watch, even if this is not one of his better parts.  The film's story is not all that unique, borrowing from both Jekyll And Hyde and The Hands Of Orlac to a certain degree, but the cinematography is well-polished and it certainly moves at a snappy pace.

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