Director: David Bradley

Director: Emlen Etting

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Saki's short story of the same name was filmed as Sredni Vashtar between 1941 & 1943 as a one-reel silent film; it may have been started as early 1939. In the early '40s it was exhibited with live voices reading the entire short story.

Sredni VashtarBut as a stand-alone film, it sat unfinished for decades, at first due to director David Bradley's stint in World War II, & kept on the shelf after the war mostly because Bradley got involved with B-movies in Hollywood.

Off & on from 1959 to 1983, a soundtrack was edited, consisting of a reading of the entire short story with all the dialogue syncronized to the characters of the film, albeit entirely in the readers' voice. It makes for a curious hybrid of silent cinema & talkie.

It follows the short story exactly & is a wonderful horror film which looks like it should be much older than it is.

The strange little kid Conradin is given into the care of a cruel guardian, his aunt. Denied normal family interaction, he begins to spend all his spare time in the woodshed, where he establishes a weird & sinister private religion involving the worship of a caged black ferret.

As life becomes more & more horrid in the house, Conradin withdraws increasingly into wishful prayers in the shed. And when his guardian sets out to end even Conradin's one place of retreat, the ferret appears really to answer the boy's prayers of murderous desire.

OramundeThe ten-minute silent short Oramunde (1933) was inspired by the Greek legend of Pelleas & Melisende, played out as a dance.

Melisende (Mary Binney Montgomery) is a jazz dancer competely covered in white gauze. We watch her for some while hopping, writhing, dancing, walking in field & wood, coming to a cliff overlooking the sea, mostly in attitudes ranging from ecstacy to subdued delight.

Running along the shore, she is overcome with sorrows. Still & forever in her diaphanous covering, the cloth is now torn & dragging. She climbs the cliff in continuous attitude of weariness, then journeys woefully back into the woods.

Finally she returns to the shore where a sexless cowled figure (Caresse Crosby) in a rowboat takes her away, as she stands tall & quiet in the boat.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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