“For five thousand dollars, I’m not afraid of anything — not even death!”
Upon the death of his industrialist father, John (Albert Dekker) learns that his “dead” twin brother Paul (also Dekker) is actually alive but insane. After years of being kept secretly locked up, Paul escapes from his keeper (Ernest Whitman) and tries to live a “normal” life, but finds himself killing again and again; meanwhile, the gold digging daughter (Susan Hayward) of Paul’s new landlady (Maude Eburne) is determined to earn the $5,000 award offered for locating the “mysterious” killer.
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “impressive ‘B’ movie” (directed by Stuart Heisler) features “good acting and direction” as well as plenty of “suspense” and “mill-town atmosphere.” Indeed, at just 68-minutes, Among the Living is chock-full of all the necessary ingredients for an exciting B-level thriller: a funeral, a mysterious rash of murders, insanity, childhood secrets, amateur sleuths, shady doctors, gold diggers, noir-ish cinematography, and more. As in Robert Siodmak’s 1946 film The Dark Mirror (starring Olivia De Haviland), the theme of doppelganger twins — one “good”, one “evil” — is milked here for all its worth, to satisfying effect (Dekker is well-suited to his dual roles). Indeed, the performances throughout are all fine, with Susan Hayward particularly noteworthy as a gold-digging mill worker who doesn’t realize the killer she’s greedily looking for is standing right beside her.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Susan Hayward as the scheming gold digger who unknowingly puts herself in harm’s way
- Albert Dekker’s effective performance in dual roles
- Frances Farmer in a small, somewhat thankless role as John’s wife
No, but it’s an excellent thriller, and well worth watching if you can find a copy.