Two on a Guillotine (23-Jan-1965)|
Director: William Conrad
Writers: John Kneubuhl; Henry Slesar
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Review by Brian Chic (posted on 9-Jun-2007)
In the early to mid-sixties, William Conrad directed two fright films for Warner Brothers: TWO ON A GUILLOTINE and MY BLOOD RUNS COLD.
By all means, stick to the former.
I won't lie, GUILLOTINE isn't and never really has been a good movie.
Still, it holds a special place in the hearts of the kiddos who, if they missed its theatrical run, caught it later on CBS Friday Night At The Movies.
The Great Duquesne, an old-fashioned sartorially perfect stage magician (Caesar Romero), has died. His estranged daughter, Cassie (Connie Stevens), in order to legally inherit the estate, must spend a spooky week there. Not to be TOO "alone", she is befriended by reporter Val Henderson (Dean Jones).
Among the eyebrow-raisers one might anticipate in a late magician's mansion are, among other things, half a skeleton which sails down suspended on a wire, a curious white, live bunny rabbit given to appearing and vanishing at will, and that reliable old chestnut - "the locked room at the top of the stairs".
Mr. Conrad, an obvious fan of Hitchcock, takes a few tips from PSYCHO:
It's filmed in black & white, he casts Virginia (Norman Bates' mom's voice) Gregg in a part, and puts himself in as a "cameo" in the carnival scene.
The story gets only as involved as its length will permit, but we are treated to a surprisingly capable supporting cast of veterans including: Connie Gilchrist, Parley Baer, Jon Lormer, Richard Kiel, ... hey - even Billy Curtis with his trademark cigar.
As chills go, the mansion and a few gimmicks aren't half-bad and the music was largely memorable and helpful. Unfortunately, when the film didn't do the boxoffice Mr. Conrad expected, he blamed the composer - None other than Max Steiner (THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, the original 1933 KING KONG).
Expectedly, Steiner considered this the last straw and it's said this was the (by his choice) last assignment he ever composed.
While I'm not overly fond of the term, TWO ON A GUILLOTINE has become something of a cult classic. For those interested in camp horror fare, Steiner aficianados, sixties-style fashion, or just plain seeing Dean Jones and Connie Stevens in something other than a Disney film of the time, you can't miss.
I rate this three stars.
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