Seventh Victim, The (1943)

“I’ve always wanted to die.”

Synopsis:
A young woman (Kim Hunter) searches for her missing sister, Jacqueline (Jean Brooks), who has joined a Satanic cult in New York.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “exceptional Val Lewton thriller” is a “complete original”, featuring “bizarre and sinister characters”, “smart, strong-willed women”, and “several scary scenes.” The screenplay is complex, “full of smart dialogue between educated characters about free will vs. fate”, and it takes an unexpected turn about halfway through, when Hunter and Hugh Beaumont (Jacqueline’s husband) fall in love with each other and reduce their efforts to find Brooks. As always, producer Lewton (this time via director Mark Robson and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca) employs stark cinematography and clever framing to create frightful scenes without gore (note especially the shower scene). The Seventh Victim is a rare film which requires multiple viewings to really “get”, but is worth the effort.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Kim Hunter in her film debut as Mary Gibson
  • Jean Brooks as Jacqueline
  • Effective noir cinematography
  • Many genuinely frightening moments
  • The infamous shower scene, predating Psycho (1960) by 17 years
  • The surprise ending

Must See?
Yes. This enigmatic film has long held fascination for film fanatics, and merits multiple viewings.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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3 Responses to “Seventh Victim, The (1943)”

  1. Yes, a must.

    Jacqueline Gibson (Jean Brooks, looking more like Louise Brooks) is one of the most enigmatic characters in film. Through the first half of this short flick, we don’t see her at all but learn about her via other characters:

    “I have a painful matter to discuss with you: your sister.”

    “Your sister had many friends – but they were not my friends.”

    “A man would look for her anywhere, Mary. There’s something…exciting, unforgettable about Jacqueline, something you never quite get hold of.”

    “There’s a grave danger of Jacqueline losing her sanity.”

    After a 1/2-hour, we meet Jacqueline – for a moment, in which she seems terrified. Then she’s gone…until later.

    The strongest feature of ‘TSV’ is its mood and, for that, thanks must undoubtedly go more to producer Lewton’s signature style than to director Robson (somewhat of a journeyman filmmaker; watching this, it’s a bit hard to imagine that this is the guy who would eventually helm ‘Valley of the Dolls’!). Things are creepy from the start – even at Kim Hunter’s school (what’s with Ms. Gilcrist?); from there, the story takes on the effect of a snowball downhill.

    The short final scene is indeed chilling!

    Notes:

    -The (noted) scene that anticipates the ‘Psycho’ shower scene is fascinating; as well, there’s a line of dialogue that turns the last line of ‘Casablanca’ around.

    -Watching Tom Conway as the psychiatrist, one imagines him playing all the roles turned down by George Sanders.

    -What is that bizarre song Hunter is singing with her young students – about heads being chopped off?!

    -The film builds to what happens in Room 7 (the number of completion).

    -Would obviously go well billed with ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

  2. Re: Tom Conway, did you know he actually WAS George Sanders’ brother in real life? Just learned that little bit of trivia.

  3. I probably knew that at some point but forgot it.

    Have just rewatched ‘TSV’ and I think it’s a kind of masterpiece.

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