Retrospektive 2018

Sh! The Octopus

William C. McGann
USA 1937
60min
V'18

Eine der unvergleichlichen Leistungen des Weltkinos ist William McGanns Horror-Komödie SH! THE OCTOPUS. Hugh Herbert und Allen Jenkins wurden furchtlos mit Hauptrollen betraut, in der Überzeugung, dass sie einen Film ebenso tragen können wie James Cagney oder Errol Flynn. Als Set dient ein klaustrophobisches Leuchtturm-Interieur und McGanns kühnster Schritt ist es, die sinistre Bedrohung die meiste Zeit im Off zu halten, was von vergleichsweise vernachlässigbaren Filmen wie CAT PEOPLE oder THE THING imitiert wurde. Die Kritik zeigte leider Unverständnis für McGanns einzigartige Vision. „Variety“ empfahl, das Studio möge ab nun freiwillig seine Produktion einstellen.

Mit THE DEVIL BAT

 

Standing foursquare among the towering achievements of world cinema, SH! THE OCTOPUS! transcends mere words. Director William C. McGann shows his inventiveness from the start, daring to place Hugh Herbert and Allen Jenkins into starring roles, fully confident they can carry a feature as easily as Cagney or Flynn. Next, he boldly confines most of the action to a single, cramped set—a lighthouse interior— compelling his cast to make dynamic acting choices in the most restrictive of conditions. His most audacious move is to keep the Octopus off-screen much of the time—a touch famously ripped off by such later, inferior films as CAT PEOPLE and THE THING. Finally, he brings it all in at a taut 54 minutes, insuring there won’t even be the slightest whiff of padding; it can scarcely be summarized here, but it involves a pair of cops, a mystery woman, a corpse, and of course an Irish police commissioner. Released as a huge Christmas present to an America still rising from the Depression, it was hailed by Variety as “so feeble even the actors look ashamed of themselves ... the studio should be willing to call it quits after this.” If motion pictures are indeed the world’s greatest art form, then SH! THE OCTOPUS! is truly the pinnacle; after seeing it, you’ll stagger out of the theatre, secure in the belief you have reached out and touched the face of God. (Michael Schlesinger)

With THE DEVIL BAT

Credits
  • Allen Jenkins
  • Hugh Herbert
  • Marcia Ralston
  • John Eldredge
  • George Rosener
  • Brandon Tynan
  • Eric Stanley
  • Screenplay George Bricker based on plays by Ralph Spence
  • Ralph Murphy and Donald Gallaher
  • Arthur L. Todd
  • Heinz Roemheld
Warner Bros.
16 mm
bw
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