With no messing about, this film jumps straight into a POV murder. First a stab with a dagger then a double tap with a gas lamp. The victim isn’t just gonna die, he’s gonna burn too! In the first of a series of shocking and macabre death scenes Hangover Square really grabs your attention. I love it when a movie gamble pays off. Went into this film really for it’s short runtime. Not the ideal way to pick a film, I know. Had way too many late nights and the thought that if I ain’t digging it I’ll turn it off and get myself an early night. Haha no chance. I was hooked and instantly invested in the plight of George Harvey Bone (Laird Cregar), right from that first hard hitting opening scene.
Tagline – TERROR…IN THE DEPTHS OF STRANGE EMOTION!
George is a giant of a man. Wandering through the streets of Edwardian London in a daze. He looks lost and confused, innocent even. Look closer and you can see a drip of blood on his head. One thing we know from that first brutal murder is that this here man mountain is a killer. It’s no secret. George has a rare amnesia condition that is randomly brought on by certain loud, unexpected noises. When activated, George becomes a murdering maundering madman and loses up to a whole evening transfixed in this state. On waking he recalls nothing of his ways but he’s aware of his condition, declaring his worries to Dr. Allan Middleton (George Sanders) who gives George the all clear.
Barbara Chapman – “George has been so depressed about his lapses, are they really dangerous?”
Dr. Allan Middleton – “When he goes into one of his moods his subconscious mind has control. There’s nothing especially dangerous about that but if his condition at the time is aggravated by excessive concentration he’ll have an urge to destroy anything that stands in his way.”
Thing is George is a wonderful caring man and a genius composer with a gift for writing piano concertos. George is also a big lummox and a total doofus! With adoring Barbara Chapman (Faye Marlowe) doting after him and her father, Sir Henry Chapman (Alan Napier) ready to push George’s career into the limelight, George has it all! Until, that is, the darn sexy, all singing, all dancing club floozie, Netta Longdon (Linda Darnell) flashes her eyelashes at him. You guessed it, Netta is our naughty femme fatale.
With the addition of George’s friend Mickey (Michael Dyne) and the dashing Eddie Carstairs (Glenn Langan) and not forgetting a siamese cat and a friendly man sitting down a hole. We have all our players on the table, what could possibly be about to happen in this film? Well I can tell you there’s some really shocking scenes that will have you gasping at the screen, “This was made in 1945! surely you can’t do that?”
Things I’ve learnt From This Film
- The tragic story of Laird Cregar broke my heart. I didn’t realise that Hangover Square was his last film before he died and even more shocked to learn he was only 31! He looks so much older. With his hulking size he was always destined to be the villain but he yearned to be more of a romantic leading man. Determined to lose weight he went on a crash diet which included amphetamines. With all the strain on his system he underwent surgery for severe stomach problems and unfortunately a few days later died of a heart attack. It’s nice to hear that Vincent Price delivered Laird’s eulogy at his funeral.
- The two other films from Laird Cregar that I’ve seen are I Wake Up Screaming with Betty Grable and Victor Mature and This Gun For Hire with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. He was fantastic and very memorable in both. I have his penultimate film The Lodger ready to watch very soon and am very much looking forward to it.
- Well I investigated the Indian Thuggee knot cord after! Yes an eye opener.
- Directed by John Brahm who I see would later go off into TV heaven directing multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour to name just a small few.
- Hangover Square is based on a 1941 novel of the same name by English playwright Patrick Hamilton. He had written the play that Alfred Hitchcock would later make called Rope.
- Linda Darnell is excellent and feisty alongside Sidney Poitier in the superb No Way Out which I reviewed last year and it comes very recommended.
- Was traffic to learn that Linda Darnell also died very young at the age of 41 in a house fire.
- Hangover Square is available in excellent quality to stream on youtube at the time of writing here.
Hangover Square is an entertaining dark edged film. You are there with George throughout his plight. Yeah he might get a little carried away when he’s in his “out of his mind” state but you still care for the big man. Netta on the other hand is just so darn sexy but you hiss and boo at her all the same. Like I say above, this was an unexpected surprise and I really enjoyed it. One I would definitely recommend if you haven’t seen it. Let me know if do or if you have.
Have fun with movies… Mikey Wolf