Among the Living (1941)

“What horrible fascination did this monster have for women?” An offbeat horror suspense film directed by Stuart Heisler, Among the Living stars Albert Dekker (Dr. Cyclops) as twin brothers John and Paul Raden, the latter of whom is totally insane and has spent the past 10 years secretly confined in a straitjacket in the family’s creepy, decaying Gothic-style mansion. After the death of the twins’ father, all hell breaks loose. The solid cast includes Harry Carey (as the sleazy Dr. Ben Saunders), Susan Hayward (the gold digger Millie Pickens), Frances Farmer (Elaine Raden) and Ernest Whitman (Pompey). The screenplay was written by Garrett Fort and Lester Cole, who was later blacklisted as a member of the “Hollywood Ten.” A compact thriller that clocks in at just 67 minutes, Among the Living rises above its B-movie status. Heisler also directed Hayward in Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947). Hayward was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for the role but lost out to Loretta Young (The Farmer’s Daughter). In Guide for the Film Fanatic (1986), Danny Peary calls Among the Living an “impressive ‘B’ movie” with “good acting and direction … suspense and mill-town atmosphere.”

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