The Agatha Christie plot (with a strong family resemblance to that other hyper-theatrical melodrama, “Gaslight”) is gripping, and the necessary claustrophobic atmosphere is established and maintained — with help from the excellent score from a very youthful Benjamin Britten. This has a terrifying performance by Basil Rathbone, which again reminds us what an accomplished and versatile actor was all-but obliterated in his later absorption into Sherlock Holmes. No goalie-mask, no retractile steel claws, no camera-tricks, he scares the pants off you using only an actor’s equipment, and you’ll never forget his portrayal of a psychotic, obsessive Bluebeard.
cast: Ann Harding, Basil Rathbone, Binnie Hale
1937, B&W, 87 minutes