Bedlam

Bedlam ★★★★

This superb collaboration of producer Val Lewton and director Mark Robson follows their fool proof formula of paranoia, manipulation and desperation making for a tense viewing - especially for a first time watch!

The story follows an 18th Century Legal Protige named Nell (Played by the terrific Anna Lee) - whose disgust of the operations of the local insane asylum - aptly named BEDLAM - drive her to use her political connections and influences to reform the asylum to better care for their patients. However the local political "Big Whig" named Wilkes and the director of the asylum named Master Sims (played by the sinister Boris Karloff) conspire to prove Nell "insane" in order to keep her influence from changing the asylums practices. She is committed to the asylum where she must endure psychological torture and programming - all the while gaining the trust and love of the so called "Loonies". Her only hope of proving her innocence and sanity is her Quaker friend named Hannay - whose religious choices cause internal conflictions to stand against the law. Her only choice is to rely on the inmates - and their hatred for Sims.

Brilliantly directed by Robson with a cast that is on point - the terror and claustrophobic settings make for a taught and tense thriller that keeps you on edge. The sheer hopelessness of Anna Lee's performance as she is railroaded by a corrupt legal system seems oddly relevant in today's climate. While there may be some problematic representations of mental illness by today's standards - the main focus is on the abusive nature of the "medical professionals" and the need for reform. Great film!