For Reel

The Ghost Ship (1943)
February 24, 2015, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mark Robson
4 Stars
The Ghost ShipRichard Dix’s career was in the downswing by the time he made The Ghost Ship in 1943. Although he was an enormously successful silent star and even had a fairly graceful transition into talkies (his career highpoint was an Academy Award nomination for Cimarron), he had become mostly relegated to B-pictures and serials by the early 1940s. One of his very best roles is in this Val Lewton produced horror picture in which he plays a sea captain who is going mad. He utilizes his stoic, calm demeanor to great effect in the earliest sequences, but by the end transitions into a convincing portrayal of madness. A great example of the quality of suspense in Lewton pictures occurs in a terrific sequence in which Russell Wade, suspecting that Dix is on his way to murder him, spends a sleepless night trying to rig an alarm system in his room. Director Mark Robson brilliantly plays with sound and the absence of it–things become more frightening when the sound is gone and there is nothing to be seen. When Wade emerges from his cabin to observe a door just outside of his room, the door takes on a threatening quality of its own, looming at the end of the hallway and obscuring the horrors lurking behind. It’s minimalist suspense at its finest.

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