“He spoils everything he touches. He takes the life out of it and leaves it to rot– He’s made like that!”
An ambitious man (Zachary Scott) from a lower-class home alienates and betrays everyone around him during his rise to power — including his best friend Vic (Louis Hayward) and childhood sweetheart (Diana Lynn).
Edgar G. Ulmer’s B-level variation on Citizen Kane (one of his few higher-budget films) suffers from both a predictable plot and the surprisingly lackluster performance of its lead character (Scott), whose expression never varies and whose cold affect keeps the audience at arm’s length rather than allowing us to see what makes him tick. Diana Lynn (sweet and effective) gets it just right when describing Vendig (Scott) in the final line of the movie: “He wasn’t a man; he was a way of life”; ultimately, then, Vendig is meant to represent an archetype rather than a flesh-and-blood character, and the film’s overall emotional charge suffers for it. Interestingly, recent critics seem to find something of greater worth in this “pulp poetry” than I did.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Diana Lynn as Martha/Mallory
- Louis Hayward as Vic
No, though film fanatics may be interested in seeing Ulmer’s variation on Citizen Kane.