written by: The Masked Reviewer
After a friend of the portly aristocrat Lord Mortimer (Billy House) dies in an attempted escape from Bedlam. In order to appease the angered aristocrat, Master George Sims (Boris Karloff) throws a party for Lord Mortimer and his friends at the asylum with the inmates as entertainment.
Master George Sims (Boris Karloff): ( referring to the inmates. )
Ours is a human world. Theirs is a bestial world, with reason, or soul.
Some are pigs, those I let wallow in their own filth. They’re animals. Some are dogs, these I beat. Some are are tigers, these I cage.
Some like this one are doves-
Nell Bowen: I’ve seen enough!
Nell Bowen doesn’t have much of a personality in the film. All we know about her is that she is kindhearted, and a feminist. Master George Sims, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air in this movie full of cliches. Boris Karloff shines as George Sims giving him terrifying moments of tenderness, mixed masterfully with serene acts of horrifying violence. What separates great characters like Master George Sims from the rather bland Nell Bowen is that he is that he is more than the role he is given. He is evil, he is deplorable, he is disgusting … But he has his own goals apart from earning pennies from showing madmen sitting in their filth. Bedlam is a mere stepping stone for him into high society. Nell Bowen’s characterization is defined by what she isn’t.
Overall Bedlam is a visually appealing movie. The story had potential, but most of the characters were bland. The film is enjoyable mainly because of Boris Karloff’s performance. So if you are a fan of Boris Karloff, or of the producer Val Lewton’s films like Cat People I would recommend Bedlam. I would rate this film 3 out of 5 stars.