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Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE BRUTE MAN (1946) -- Movie Review by Jason Hernandez

It's a poorly made, clumsily written, awkwardly paced, stiffly acted B-movie rush job, but THE BRUTE MAN (1946) deserves credit for being the only film to treat disfigured actor Rondo Hatton like a human being.

Yes, he's still a mad murderer who kills people with his bare hands. Yes, they're still calling him "The Creeper". Yes, he's still photographed like a beast in the shadows.

The twist is that this movie takes the old Bride of Frankenstein turn in which the monster meets a blind person who doesn't judge him. That's pretty lady piano instructor Jane Adams.

She's doesn't panic when Hatton, a complete stranger, breaks into her apartment. She also doesn't suspect that anything is amiss when the police knock on her door right afterward looking for him.

This is partly because she's a sweetheart and partly because this script was written faster than a bachelor's grocery list. Nobody here had time to try to make sense of this. The important part is that she develops a friendship with him. She humanizes him. He keeps coming back like a stray cat.

Along the way, we do begin to sympathize with the pituitary disease-ravaged Hatton. We learn his sad story. We start to root for him to evade capture and continue to strangle to death anyone he wants.

At the very least, we don't care if his next target, Tom Neal, wearing the worst fake mustache in film history, gets away or not.

This was Hatton's final film, released after his death. The commonly told story is that Universal originally made this and then didn't want to release it due to a combination of them shutting down their B-movie division, thinking that the film was terrible and not wanting to look like they're capitalizing off of Hatton's death.

I'm not sure that I buy all of that (particularly the last reason), but Universal did sell the film off to the Poverty Row mavens at PRC, who would release anything that was in focus for at least ten minutes of its run time.

The fifty-eight-minute wonder THE BRUTE MAN fits right in with all of the other slop they were slingin'.

Here's Rondo in parallel-view 3D (click for larger picture): 


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