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Friday, May 23, 2008

THE LEOPARD MAN (1943)


Inexplicably undervalued thriller from Val Lewton ’s RKO unit with the great Jacques Tourneur at the helm. Technically, the film is one long visual tour de force, even when the narrative goes soft and conventional in the third act, boasting an unusual structure of crisscrossing narratives decades ahead of its release date. (Structurally, we're in the land of SHORT CUTS, AMORES PERROS, TRAFFIC, et al.) The story begins as a publicity stunt that goes awry allowing a leopard to escape and terrorize a small New Mexico town. But is the leopard doing all the killings? Three or four set-pieces in this would do Murnau in his UFA heyday proud and the level of acting and visual sweep show why Tourneur was Lewton 's favored son when it came to calling the shots.

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