Friday, November 28, 2014

Old-School 'Holiday' Flix: Black Friday (1940)

Thanks again, Svengoolie.  On Saturday night, METV (check your local listings) is must see for me as one of the few Horror Hosts still active (and in Syndication) is on.  A few weeks back, he showed this Film and it just seems appropriate.  After all, this was Black Friday before it became about Moms beating each other Battle Royale-style over an Elmo doll.  In this Old School tale, a Doctor (Boris Karloff) does some daring surgery to save his friend's life.  It has complications, however, as the mystery that is the brain (especially in 1940) arise.  Is having a part of a Mobster's brain enough to make you turn to crime?  Is it alright to use your friend to find hidden money (if you intend to use it for good)?  How the hell did Bela Lugosi end up in such a small role?  To take a fun glimpse to the past (including Doctors that smoke around Patients), read on...
The Film begins right before the End with Karloff on Death Row.  He hands his Diary to a Reporter, who proceeds to 'work his way through the case...'
Karloff's friend- a History Teacher- gets a brain injury due to being hit by a Mobster's Car during a chase.  He has damaged parts of his brain, so Karloff just kills the Mobster and takes his!
As Karloff tries to help his friend return to normal, he discovers that he is going through mood swings and remembers things that he didn't experience.  Is he getting memories from the Mobster?
Karloff takes the man to New York City (under the auspices of helping him) to prove his theory: that he now shares the personality of the Mobster.

Oh and the Mobster hid $100,000.  That may be important.
The problem: the Mobster personality takes control at will (played by the same Actor) and seeks revenge on the men he worked with.  After all, they tried to kill him.

Why is Bela such a small role here (and never on-screen with Boris)?  Good question, actually.
The money is found and Karloff seems to repress the Mobster's personality.  However, the sound of a car misfiring triggers its return and he goes after Karloff- rightly thinking that he took the money.

Boris shoots him to save his Daughter, leading to him now being on Death Row.  Brain Surgery never pays.  The End.
Old School in all of the good and bad ways.  Black Friday is a Film who's Plot makes less sense as time goes on, but that's okay.  I don't think that people *really* believed in the idea of memories/personality being transferred this way.  Mind you, Brain Surgery was around for about maybe 50 years (in some form) at the time of this Film's release, so less information was known.  It worked because people didn't know so much about the process then.  It still kind of works today, however, if you just go 'this is a Fantasy.'  The Film's strong points include the good Direction, good performances by the Leads and its attempt to experiment with new Story ideas.  Is this one a bit odd when you think about it?  Yes.  However, the twist on the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde thing and Karloff's character having shades of gray (at first, at least) is nice.  He is far from the atypical Mad Scientist, which I like.  It is also worth noting how well the Professor/Mobster does.  Without major make-up work or anything like that, he plays both roles and looks different enough to fool you.  It is both complex and subtle.  As a whole, Black Friday is a neat bit of Noir mixed with Fantasy.  While they don't interact, you do get Bela and Boris in one Film.  It is not as memorable as their other 'team-ups,' but also deserves more attention than it gets.  Enjoy your Shopping, while I enjoy neat Posters like this...
Up next, the return of a Full Moon Series in 6 Parts.  I'm almost done with Josh Kirby, I care?  Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment