Sunday, June 22, 2014

Damaged Lives (1933)

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer

Writers: Eugene Brieux, Edgar G. Ulmer, Donald Davis

Composer: ???

Starring: Diane Sinclair, Lyman Williams, Harry Myers, Marceline Day, Jason Robards Sr., Charlotte Merriam, Murray Kinnell, George Irving, Cecilia Parker, Almeda Fowler, Harrison Greene, Victor Potel, Harry Semels

More info: IMDb

Tagline: His life of debauchery brought disease to his wife!

Plot: An extramarital affair leads to a young couple contracting syphilis.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

It's fun watching these old cautionary tale films.  They're usually so tame and melodramatic that they're sometimes fun and hilarious. This one has its moments. It takes a while to get to the syphilis and they pussyfoot around saying exactly what it is.  It's not until Donald (Williams) visits Dr. Hall (Robards, father of Jason Jr.) and it comes from the doctor's lips.  Doc shows Donald real patients inflicted with the disease which are cleverly inserted bits of footage not filmed for this picture.  Some of the victims contracted the disease from a tobacco pipe, street walkers, etc. One is a mother who unknowingly passed it on to her children.  All of this is to show, of course, that anyone can get it and from any number of innocent or illicit ways.  Because this stays a few minutes shy of an hour, it's easy to get through.  You'll probably find yourself laughing hysterically but knowing this isn't played for laughs.  Time has a tendency to allow for humor.  It'd be interesting to see if any of these pictures were effective.  I can't imagine over the top drama like this made a dent in the STD scene but I could be wrong.  For as dark as the picture gets, it ends happily.  I'd rather it go the other way but it's a rare film from this era that ends on a downbeat. 

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