Edgar G. Ulmer -- the noted B-movie director and sometimes writer who worked consistently from the 1930s (beginning in Germany with People on Sunday) through the early 60s (The Amazing Transparent Man) and built up a resume of more than 50 films -- seems to keeping growing from year to year. I'm not sure, however, what the release-to-DVD in newly restored high-definition version of his 1946 film, THE STRANGE WOMAN, will do for that reputation. I'm guessing it will neither add nor detract much, keeping the man, his hit-and-miss movies, and his very interesting career pretty much as they already are. But it's good to have the movie back with us in this looks-pretty-terrific version.
Some of them -- Detour and The Black Cat -- worked so consistently and so well that they've become genuine classics. Even when the movies were so-so overall, they still worked pretty well. I think it is a rare -- maybe non-existent -- Ulmer film that's unwatchable. (I say that having not nearly seen them all; Ulmer made some 52 movies.)
Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders, Louis Hayward and Hillary Brooke, among others, with a budget (though probably small by normal Hollywood standards) that was, for Ulmer, large indeed.
The result is a film more typically "Hollywood" than the usual Ulmer: a somewhat heavy-handed melodrama about Jenny (played by Ms Lamarr, below) who goes from being a power-hungry and deceitful little girl into pretty much the same kind of woman. As an adult, she's learned how to perform good deeds -- the kind that help others, sure, but that always at the same time prove a big help to her.
Film Chest Media Group, which has a pretty good record of restoring some lesser-known chestnuts, has done a good job with this one. Most of the footage is crisp and clear and the black-and-white cinematography (by Lucien N. Andriot) comes across quite well.
The Strange Woman (terrible title!), running 99 minutes, hits the street this Tuesday, April 29, for sale, and one hopes rental or maybe streaming soon.