CONDEMNED TO LIVE (1935)

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Condemned To Live Cover Are you feeling sad, dear reader? Are you feeling so very-very sad, you're actually thinking about killing yourself with a piece of chalk? Well, fear not. For I have the perfect solution to whatever ails you. So please sit back, relax, and watch this rather depressing 67 minute movie made in 1935. It was Directed by: Frank R. Strayer; and Starred: Ralph Morgan, Pedro de Cordoba, with Maxine Doyle.


Condemned To Live


THE STORY:
Please. You must be able to help me, my old friend. I'm not quite sure what's actually happening to me.

One moment I feel fairly fine and dandy. And I'm happy enough to help those in need whilst spending some quality time with my youthful sweetheart, Marguerite (Maxine Doyle).

When the next moment I get these rather strange black-outs! And I do not what I'm doing -- or what I'm saying. Until eventually I come to again, and find myself standing next to my deformed aide, Zan (Mischa Auer), who then informs me that a monstrous bat has killed another one of his poor hapless victims.

Now this fiend has struck twice so far -- ARRRGHHH! -- Strike that. Make that three times. And I'm not quite sure if I'm the culprit or not.  

So please, Doctor Anders (Pedro de Cordoba). Please tell me if I'm this notorious killer. I need to know, God damn it. I need to know because I'm your mature ward for over forty years, Professor Paul Kristan (Ralph Morgan).

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires breaks a vein when I decide to split-up with my sweetheart. As a love-interest steps-up to the plate - a revelation really does bloody grate - a deformed aide helps out his old master - and at the end of the day, a very kind man jumps right into the ultimate disaster.




THE REVIEW:
Now whenever I watch an old black and white movie, like 'Condemned to Live', I find that I have to allow it some concessions due to the era it was made in. Well. Let's face it. Films developed during this period were trying their best to find their own feet. Sound was just in its infancy, plus production values and acting styles were fresh off from the vaudevillian halls.

Condemned To Live DVD
So with all of that in mind, I've got to state for the record that this was one hell of a nice yarn. Yeah. I'm not kidding you, pal. If you're a bit like me, and you can look past some of the mannered acting styles plus a few of the Luke warm sets, you'll find that at the very heart of this adventure is one man's plight against a strange malady which has been with him since he was a kid.

You see, from my point of view this tale only has to do one thing it to make it work as a movie. It has to make you care enough for its main character -- as played by Ralph Morgan -- or else you wouldn't give a toss about him or the predicament he's in. And it does you know. Make you care I mean. It makes you care by presenting him in a very good light.

For a start, you can tell he's a very humble and earnest gentleman, who wants to do well by others despite his own ailing health. And then, to make him seem even more saintly, you see him falling in love with a very nice young lady, who has gotten herself involved with another man that she's not too sure of.


Condemned To Live Starring Ralph Morgan, Maxine Doyle, and Mischa Auer


Admittedly, this last part of the equation didn't work for me at all. Not only because this 'love tryst' wasn't clearly defined within the central narrative. But on top of that, I couldn't really connect with Ralph's love rival either -- as played by Russell Gleason.

Condemned To Live Vintage Movie Poster
Anyway. By now I'm sure you know my feelings towards this great film. So what I'll do next is present you with the following filmic-facts. OK? (1) 'Invincible Pictures' first screened this production in America, on the very same day Germany was divided by 'The Reich Citizenship Law' -- the 15th of September, 1935. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Mark of the Vampire' in Brazil, whilst in America, its working-title was 'Life Sentence', and its reissue-title was, 'Demon of Doom'. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at 'Universal Studios', Universal City, as well as on location at the Bronson Caves, Bronson Canyon, situated within the American state of California. In total it only took ten days to make. (4) Karen DeWolf, who was the writer that penned this flick, also wrote for the television series, 'How to Marry a Millionaire'; plus the 'Blondie' series of films. (5) The director of this movie, Frank R. Strayer, has directed eighty-five films throughout this twenty-six year career. This spanned from 1925 to 1951. (6) Now I'm sure you noticed that this drama used the same music and sets seen in another one of Frank's films, 'The Vampire Bat', plus it recycled some of the costumes and props from 'The Bride of Frankenstein' too. (7) There were three taglines used to promote this picture. The first one was, 'FATE DAMNED HIM WITH A THOUSAND DEATHS!'. The second one was, 'SAINT OR SATAN! MAN OR MONSTER!'. Whilst the third one was, 'What was this creature that DEATH could not claim?'. (8) After this adventure gave up the will to live, Ralph Morgan starred in the romantic-drama, 'Magnificent Obsession'; Pedro de Cordoba starred in the action-adventure, 'Captain Blood'; and Maxine Doyle starred in the crime-thriller, 'It's up To You'.


Condemned To Live Starring Ralph Morgan, Pedro de Cordoba, and Mischa Auer


Overall I'd say 'Condemned to Live' was a fairly fine film for its time. The story was pretty easy to follow. Some of the sets were very atmospheric to say the least. And all in all -- yeah -- good job. And I can't wait to watch the next movie made during this era.

Nuff said. 

THE RATING: B