(1945) director Edgar G. Ulmer
After revisiting director Edgar G. Ulmer’s no budget noir masterpiece, Detour (1945), I queued up another noir of his, released the same year, the interesting-sounding, Strange Illusion.
Ulmer, who started out as a set designer for Fritz Lang, among others, made it to Hollywood, but rarely worked with a real budget. Strange Illusion is similarly bare-bones, but also more interesting than a lot of movies made with higher budgets.
It’s the story of a young collegian, Jimmy, who revisits his home after his father’s sudden death in a mysterious car accident. He has a vision of a dark figure trying to step into the picture and suspects that his father’s death may have been murder. The film channels Hamlet and is rife with Freudian themes, especially Oedipal lust. For his mother is being pursued by a gentleman, and Jimmy finds himself in a mental institution, trapped by a sinister psychiatrist.
For its low budget, the dream sequences, including the scene of the car accident, have real flair. It doesn’t have the mean, lean perfection nor significant performances to rival the much richer Detour. But it is an interesting film, in no small part to its low budget and high capabilities of Edgar Ulmer. I’m queueing up more of his films, as I type. So to speak.