The stylish Val Lewton production "BEDLAM" is loosely based on "A Rake's Progress," a series of eight paintings by the amazing 18th century English artist William Hogarth! The series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, who is eventually imprisoned in Prison, and ends up in a place called Bedlam. The 8 plates are titled thusly, #1-The Heir, #2-The Levée, #3-The Orgy, #4-The Arrest, #5-The Marriage, #6-The Gaming House, #7-The Prison, #8-The Madhouse!! You get the idea!
Just for starters, this is how they treat people who try and escape from Bedlam, whether they are insane or not, and speaking of insane, how about 264 composing credits for maestro Roy Webb, including Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious," "Dick Tracy," "The Body Snatcher" and "Zombies On Broadway," just to scratch the surface of this man's astounding output!
Unlike Tom Rakewell in the original plates, this is a story of Nell Bowen, seen here with her benefactor Lord Mortimer, also known as the trumpet playing, circus clown Billy House, the man of all men who gets to claim credit for being the live-action model for Disney cartoon characters Doc of the Seven Dwarfs, and the fat pirate in "Peter Pan!"
The King of Horror, Boris Karloff, is Master George Sims, the deranged cat who runs this madhouse called Bedlam, and right now he has been called on the carpet by an unhappy Lord Mortimer!
Lord Mortimer's little sidekick, Pompey, played by Frankie Dee, does his best at doing an impression of the Boris Karloff Sims character he just met in the hallway!! Folksinger/actor Hamilton Camp was the voice of Pompey!
Sims gives Nell a tour of Bedlam! Lucky girl, most people have to pay!
One of Sims' favourite zanies is Dorothea the Dove as portrayed by the quite lovely Joan Newton, who only has one other credit for some odd reason!
Lord Mortimer throws an opulent fiesta, and Sims provides the entertainment......
.......A gold painted man reciting poetry who might just pass out and die if nobody's paying attention! This is a very real concept, when I was taking a sculpture class in junior college, my teacher was doing a plaster cast of his chest at his home, and he passed out and fell right over! It was a good thing his wife was there!
Well, you might think "Bedlam" is a Boris Karloff film, but for me, this is a story of Miss Joan Boniface Winnifrith, who was born January 2, 1913, and who died as Anna Lee, 91 years later in 2004! As a hopeless romantic, it's hard not to fall in love with Anna Lee as Nell Bowen in "Bedlam!" Anna must have been a pretty strong lady in real life too, working in countless films of distinction from "The Sound Of Music" to "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane," and the last 26 years of her life in the enduring role of Lila Quartermaine on the long running television soap opera, "General Hospital." Sadly, in 1982, Anna was in a car accident that crippled her from the waist down, but it didn't stop her from continuing her role as Lila for years and years! They just wrote it into the script, as they eventually would do with her death!
Boris is full of it, and Anna gives him what we like to refer to around here as "The Look!"
The character of Nell is a bold, self-assured woman, who because of the times becomes a victim of her own confidence! She's just too smart........
............and the uptight guys don't dig it!!
Well, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out where Nell ended up, she's been declared insane and sent directly to Bedlam!! Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars!!
Richard Fraser is The Stonemason Quaker, the thee, thy, and thou man who is kinda sweet on Nell! Here he gets a good dose of what Bedlam is really all about! Richard Fraser was in some good flicks like "White Pongo," "The Picture Of Dorian Gray," and "The Cobra Strikes" before opting for an early retirement!
One of the residents of Bedlam, professional wrassler Vic Holbrook as Tom the Tiger, is totally anti-social and has to be kept in a room of his own!
Sims has had enough of Nell's mouth, so he sticks her in a cage match with Tom the Tiger!
Nell remains calm, and keeps her composure! "Twas beauty tamed the beast!"
Leaning on the table is one of Nell's friends in the joint, Dan the Dog, aka perennial Dungeon fave Robert Clarke, in what would be his 15th film appearance!! Nell hears some moaning, and decides to go check it out.........
...........when she finds this guy!!!
Boris comes back to give Nell a special treatment, since she's taken everything else he's thrown at her, and still come out on top, but the rest of the inmates aren't ready to be docile any longer!
The crazies convene their own court and even though the bailiff keeps giving his decision, "split him in two!" the judge declares Sims sane, and releases him!
"BEDLAM" is obviously a movie I highly recommend, and I found a copy at Big Lots that's a double feature with another good Karloff film, "Isle Of The Dead" for three bucks! That's the deal of the century!!