VAL LEWTON | THE ACCLAIMED HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER AT RKO 1941 - 1946
             
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BEDLAM

Also titled as: Chamber of Horrors and A Tale of Bedlam
Theatrical Release Date: May 10, 1946
Running Time 80 minutes

RKO Production #515
Filming began July 18, 1945
Finished August 17, 1945

Image gallery here.

"In 1946, Val made Bedlam, with Boris Karloff and Anna Lee, his most expensive and probably his least successful picture at RKO, in spite of the real horrors it showed of London's truly infamous Bedlam. The studio was completely unappreciative of the picture's very fine film qualities and almost sloughed it off after its release." From the book More From Hollywood, by DeWitt Bodeen, 345 pages, A. S. Barnes & Company, 1977, page 320

"The animal imagery in Cat People and The Leopard Man, that of the sea in I Walked with a Zombie and The Ghost Ship, or the images of ancient Greece and its mythic heritage which dominate Isle of the Dead show how the Lewton films draw upon this fantasy language, granting it a say on the commonplace and thoroughly rational worlds that their surfaces describe. It is in his last film of the RKO series, Bedlam (1946), however, that this imaginal realm was tapped for its most disconcerting challenge to the modern world and its rule or reason. This film's examination of the Age of Reason focuses on one of the period's most telling creations, the mental asylum, to lay bare a feared image, that of unreason in its undeniably human aspect."

The force of reason and the perspective which it affords on man and his world are recurrent concerns of the Lewton films." From the book Dreams of Darkness: Fantasy and the Films of Val Lewton, By J. P. Telotte, 224 pages, University of Illinois, 1985, quotation from page 168-169.

MATTHEW WANDERSKI discusses BEDLAM at horror-wood.com

"It's been argued that Lewton's final three films, The Body Snatcher, Isle Of The Dead, and Bedlam, in being period pieces, removed Lewton from the theme that was his greatest strength:  that of the intrusion of the outmoded or irrational thought upon the enlightened thinking and experience of modern-day man.  This argument, while not without merit, fails to consider some of the plusses Lewton gained in making these films. On one simple level, the different time periods and settings help to insure that the series has a pleasing variety to it.   But, more importantly, they helped Lewton to achieve one of the things I like best about the series--the way the films almost always straddle at least a couple of genres.   Some fans find this effect one of dilution, but I think it a strength."

"It's been argued that Lewton's final three films, The Body Snatcher, Isle Of The Dead, and Bedlam, in being period pieces, removed Lewton from the theme that was his greatest strength:  that of the intrusion of the outmoded or irrational thought upon the enlightened thinking and experience of modern-day man.  This argument, while not without merit, fails to consider some of the plusses Lewton gained in making these films.

On one simple level, the different time periods and settings help to insure that the series has a pleasing variety to it.   But, more importantly, they helped Lewton to achieve one of the things I like best about the series--the way the films almost always straddle at least a couple of genres.   Some fans find this effect one of dilution, but I think it a strength."

"The standing church from Bells of St. Mary's was used for the notorious asylum. Hogarth's paintings were also used throughout the film as a transitional device. Inevitably, these were usually deleted from television prints." From the book The Films of Boris Karloff, published by Citidel, 1974, page 197.

HOGARTH BEDLAM

William Hogarth • The Rake's Progress: the Rake in Bedlam • 1735
Oil on canvas • 62.5 x 75 cm (24 5/8 x 29 1/2 in)
Sir John Soane's Museum, London

"Like The Body Snatcher, much of Bedlam is rather high-handed, its script often too literate and affected (m'lord this and m'lord that) for its own good. The lively dialogue is eminently quotable, but there is little of the visual flair that once proved a Lewton trademark. Too many of Bedlam's horrific passages, especially once Nel is locked away, are offset by ponderous exposition."

"Bedlam is a handsome, well-intentioned film, but its humanitarian postures are self-righteous or, at best, self-conscious. Earlier Lewton films had conveyed more sincere messages about society's wrongs in less preachy portrayals of society's victims: Irena Dubrovna (Cat People), Barbara Farren (Curse of the Cat People), Mimi (The Seventh Victim), even Elizabeth Rousset (Mademoiselle Fifi)." From the book Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career, By Edmund G. Banzak, 571 pages, Published by McFarland & Company, 1995, quote from page 323.

BEDLAM Title

Produced Val Lewton BEDLAM

Directed Mark Robson

Gallery of images from BEDLAM

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LINKS:

The Whiskey Loose Tongue web site has the entire BEDLAM script as part of the Val Lewton Screenplay Collection. You can read it by clicking on the icon below::

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Director:
Mark Robson

Assistant Directors
Doran Cox
Anthony Jowitt

Cast:

Boris Karloff

Anna Lee

Billy Hous

Richard Fraser

Glenn Vernon

Ian Wolfe

Jason Robards

Leland Hodgson

Joan Newton

Elizabeth Russell

Victor Holbrook

Robert Clarke

Larry Wheat

Bruce Edwards

John Meredith

John Beck

Ellen Corby

John Ince

Skelton Knaggs

John Goldsworthy

Polly Bailey

Foster Phinney

Donna Lee

Nan Leslie

Tom Noonan

Jimmy Jordan

George Holmes

Robert Manning

Frankie Dee

Frank Pharr

Harry Harvey

Victor Travers

James Logan

Betty Gillette

 

George Sims

Nell Bowen

Lord Mortimer

William Hannay

Reason: the gilded boy

Sidney Long

Oliver Todd

"The Devil" John Wilkes

Dorothea the Dove

Mistress Kitty Sims

Tom "the Tiger"

Dan "the Dog"

Podge

The warden

First inmate

Solomon

Queen of the Artichokes

Judge

Varney

Chief commissioner

Scrubwoman

Lord Sandwich

Cockney girl

Cockney girl

Stonemason

Stonemason

Stonemason

John, the footman

Pompie

Second commissioner

John Lard

Sam's friend

Bailiff

Cast Member

Director of Cinematography:
Nicholas Musuraca
 
Second Camera:
Fred Bentley

Writer:
Carlos Keith
Mark Robson

Producer:
Val Lewton
 
Executive Producer:
Jack J. Gross

Film Editing:
Lyle Boyer 

Music Director:
C. Bakaleinikoff
 
Music:
Roy Webb
 
Art Direction:
Albert S. D'Agostino
Walter E. Keller
 
Special Effects:
Vernon L. Walker

Matte paintings:
Al Simpson
 
Optical Effects:
Lynn Dunn

Transparency projection shots:
Harold Stine

Gowns:
Edward Stevenson

Set Decoration:
Darrell Silvera

Sound:
Jean L. Speak
Terry Kellum
Earl B. Mounce (mixer)

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Lewton Links

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Lewton RKO Films
Cat People*
I Walked With A Zombie*
The Leopard Man*
The Seventh Victim*
The Ghost Ship*
Curse of the Cat People*
Youth Runs Wild
Mademoiselle Fifi*
Isle of the Dead
The Body Snatcher*
Bedlam

Other Lewton Films
My Own True Love*
Please Believe Me*
Apache Drums*
Misc Films

*Pages under construction

CAST AND CREW PAGES

Sir Lancelot Pinard
SIR LANCELOT PINARD

Simone Simon
SIMONE SIMON

Frances Dee
FRANCES DEE

Jane Randolph
JANE RANDOLPH

cinemagraphe

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