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Strange Illusion

Overview

This disc is as close to first-cabin treatment as Strange Illusion has ever gotten -- it's not perfect by any means, but it is a good effort and anyone who enjoys the work of director Edgar G. Ulmer, or good mystery thrillers, or film noir, will have to own this disc. The Allday Entertainment people have used a master made from a preservation-quality print held in a French archive -- it offers a softer picture but at times a richer one, and overall a more consistent image than the Roan Group's source on their ...
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Overview

This disc is as close to first-cabin treatment as Strange Illusion has ever gotten -- it's not perfect by any means, but it is a good effort and anyone who enjoys the work of director Edgar G. Ulmer, or good mystery thrillers, or film noir, will have to own this disc. The Allday Entertainment people have used a master made from a preservation-quality print held in a French archive -- it offers a softer picture but at times a richer one, and overall a more consistent image than the Roan Group's source on their rival DVD release. There are questionable decisions about the transfer, such as in the dream sequence at the beginning, which is presented in such a low light level that it's difficult to discern what is going on, including shots that do look brighter and cleaner on the Roan disc; it cuts to a pre-dawn scene, however, that is mastered more realistically than the Roan version, in terms of light levels. The rest of the movie holds up well, though -- perhaps in the interest of retaining the movie's "film noir" look the producers always seem to opt for the lowest possible light levels. The disc also contains The King Of PRC, an extraordinary documentary short featuring Ulmer's daughter Arianne Ulmer Cipes and disc producer David Kalat discussing the director's career. In the process, they clear up some misconceptions about Ulmer's work and explain how some of the decisions that he made came about. There are also trailers from a handful of Ulmer-directed movies, a gallery of stills and production art, as well as shots of the actual headquarters of Producers Releasing Corporation, the company that produced the movie, and an insert book that recreates the original pressbook from Strange Illusion. It isn't perfect, this reviewer is sorry to say, but it is a valiant effort on the movie's behalf -- and perhaps someday somebody involved can answer the question of why the opening dream sequence looks so much better in the Ulmer documentary than it does in the presentation of the movie itself.
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Special Features

New digital master from 35 mm preservation positive; Featurette: "The King of PRC"; Archive of rare stills and artwork; Collection of original theatrical trailers to genre classics; Eight-page booklet
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Strange Illusion is one of the most enchantingly bizarre and thoroughly enjoyable examples of film noir ever to come out of the celebrated "B" studio PRC, as well as being one of the most unsettling psychological thrillers of its era. Director Edgar G. Ulmer had become fascinated with the subject of psychology in the mid-'40s when he decided to make this movie, intended initially as an adaptation of a contemporary play, not a single element of which ended up in the final film. The screenplay that did result crawled with Freudian subtexts and several levels of neurosis and psychosis; the Oedipal fixation of the young hero and the villain's thinly veiled pedophilia (directed at teenage girls) being only the most obvious. The basic plot derives from Hamlet, but it is given a particularly nasty (and startling) edge by making the Claudius character (Warren William at his oiliest) into a would-be child molester. Coupled with Jimmy Lydon's vulnerably neurotic (yet appealing) hero, that onscreen pairing is as disquieting as it is startling to watch. Even in a movie made two decades later, these elements would be extraordinary, but the fact that they are presented within the context of a stylish little '40s B-mystery programmer makes them even more unsettling. Ulmer also filled his movie -- shot, as was usual in his case, in under three weeks, though not the mere six days in which Detour was filmed -- with all manner of stunning visuals, from the eerie dream sequences that open and close the film to the paranoia-laced, claustrophobia-inducing scenes of the hero trapped in a sanitarium. One particular scene, of the hero turning an eavesdropping gambit of the villains (a one-way window behind a mirror) into a means of escape, is a brilliant piece of photography, staging, and psychological symbolism. What's even more amazing is that none of the budgetary limitations under which Ulmer was working show through. This is one of the best-looking B-movies of its era, and it even offers a rich musical score by Leo Erdody (partly adapted from Schumann) that is central to the plot -- though to appreciate this film fully, one should find the best-looking DVD edition (probably the one from Allday Entertainment). There were directors working during this period who had scripts costing ten times in fees and time what this one did, and budgets of a million dollars or more (which would be up to 40 times what Ulmer had to spend here), who never made a movie a quarter as good, or as fascinating, disturbing, and complex, as Strange Illusion.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/18/2001
  • UPC: 014381091427
  • Original Release: 1945
  • Rating:

  • Source: Image Entertainment
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Sound: Dolby Digital
  • Time: 1:25:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Arnt Prof. Muhlbach
Jameson Clark People
Jimmy Clark
Sally Eilers Virginia Cartwright
John Hamilton
Jayne Hazard Dorothy Cartwright
Jimmy Lydon Paul Cartwright
Mary McLeod
Victor Potel People
George H. Reed Benjamin
Sonia Sorel
Regis Toomey Dr. Vincent
Pierre Watkin
Warren William Brett Curtis
Technical Credits
Edgar G. Ulmer Director
Harold Bradow Costumes/Costume Designer
Adele Comandini Screenwriter
Leo Erdody Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Leon Fromkess Producer
Paul Palmentola Art Director
Carl Pierson Editor
Harry Reif Set Decoration/Design
Elias H. Reif Set Decoration/Design
Fritz Rotter Original Story
Philip Tannura Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Strange Illusion
0. See! Scene Index
1. Titles [1:29]
2. Nightmare [1:44]
3. Letters From Beyond [5:16]
4. Anxious Homecoming [5:50]
5. Brett Curtis [2:35]
6. Investigation [4:17]
7. Claude Barrington [7:16]
8. Suspicious Aroused [3:46]
9. The Dark Plot [3:04]
10. Proposal [4:43]
11. A Big Psycho [3:25]
12. Dr. Muhlbach [4:28]
13. Sanitarium [5:24]
14. Exploration [4:04]
15. Elopement [2:53]
16. Nice Binoculars [4:54]
17. Drive [3:18]
18. Fustration [3:49]
19. Discovery [3:40]
20. Pursuit [4:17]
21. Climax [4:57]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Strange Illusion
   See! Strange Illusion
   See! Photo Gallery
   See! The King of PRC
   See! Trailers
      The Man From Planet X
         Play Trailer
      Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
         Play Trailer
      The Amazing Transparent Man
         Play Trailer
      Beyond The Time Barrier
         Play Trailer
      The Cavern
         Play Trailer
   See! All Day Online
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