I Walked with a Zombie (1943) is a English movie. Jacques Tourneur has directed this movie. Frances Dee,Tom Conway,James Ellison,Edith Barrett are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1943. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) is considered one of the best Drama,Fantasy,Horror,Romance movie in India and around the world.
Young Canadian nurse Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager Paul Holland. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants.
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Except for a single scream, no one speaks above a hard whisper. Wind rustles through sugar cane fields guarded by a pop-eyed, nearly skeletal zombie who stands as lifeless and stick-shouldered as a scarecrow. A dead rabbit hangs in a tree. Voodoo drums thrum the night air. "I Walked with a Zombie" is a movie of such voluptuous atmosphere that if you surrender yourself to it, it almost seems as if you've been transported to another world. It's a horror movie of suggestion, inference, punctuated with the occasional visual just sharp enough to prick through the feeling of dread and send a chill up the spine. All performances low-key and excellent (Frances Dee notably good), the dialog crisp, but it's the lighting, sets and camera work that make the movie what it is, a gorgeous vision of shadows that haunts the mind days later. And it's only 69 minutes long.
"I Walked with a Zombie", besides having one of the oddest movie titles, took a different approach to the horror genre than the popular Universal movies of the day. Maybe it harkens back to the earlier Universal heavies like "Dracula" and "Bride of Frankenstein". Made by Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur, they crafted their collaborations using a poetic, dreamlike approach to cinematic storytelling. Lyrical and atmospheric, "I Walked with a Zombie" recounts the story of a Canadian nurse sent to a small West Indian sugar island to tend for a young comatose woman, the wife of the island's plantation owner. What's wrong with her? Hints abound through the songs of the calypso singers, bits of dialogue, objects in the movie. The story, as odd as it is, is not told directly. You may think it is, but at the end of the film, you're not so certain of what's happened. Were the events the work of the supernatural? Was a crime committed? Or both? Or neither? It's difficult to say. I recommend this movie, it's important not to forget the older, off-beat films.
The film opens with Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) being interviewed for a home-care nursing position. Oddly, she's asked during the interview if she believes in witchcraft. She gets the position, working for Paul Holland (Tom Conway), who is a wealthy plantation owner on the Caribbean island of St. Sebastian. Holland has hired her to take care of his wife, Jessica (Christine Gordon), who is in a perpetual state that resembles somnambulance. As Betsy spends more time on the island, she learns that most of the population believes in and practices voodoo, and she learns that Jessica had a relatively tumultuous past with Holland's family. This was director Jacques Tourneur and producer Val Lewton's second horror/thriller collaboration (the first being Cat People (1942) and the third The Leopard Man (1943)). For many viewers, it is their favorite of the three. While I like the film, I don't like it quite that much--I prefer Cat People. But still, I Walked With A Zombie ends up with a 7 out of 10 from me. The horror aspects of I Walked With A Zombie are really very minor. They're really present only as a kind of personification of the results of complicated romantic and familial relationships. Yes, there is an admirable "haunted house"-styled scene involving a spooky stairway and creepy, distant sounds, and yes, the trek to the voodoo "home fort" is well done, but this kind of material doesn't work as well for me here as it did in Cat People, because here it's not really the focus of the story. It's ancillary material with the function of helping to solve a very different kind of mystery. Also, much of the voodoo material (such as the actual ceremony) tends to be overrated in my opinion, although the final sequence related to the voodoo theme is appropriately eerie. But what works best for me in I Walked With A Zombie are the many dialogue-heavy scenes where the three main characters--Connell, Holland and Wesley Rand (James Ellison)--gradually learn more about one another, and where the "mystery" is gradually uncovered. A scene where a local "minstrel" sings part of the backstory while Connell and Rand are having a drink is exquisite, for example. Yet, even with this positive aspect, I never felt that the backstory was sufficiently explained. The mystery remains, and the moralizing bookends of the film do not help, either. Still, I Walked With A Zombie is definitely worth a watch, and based on the extravagant praise that many viewers utter towards the film, you might like it much better than I do.
Present day viewers watching this wonderful movie after reading the label "horror" and seeing the word "zombie" in the title, might be in for a shock if they think they're going to be in for a Romero/Fulci gorefest. This is a completely different kind of zombie movie! In fact, calling it horror is quite misleading, mystery is the more appropriate description. Anyone who has seen 'Cat People', the earlier collaboration between director Jacques Tourneur and producer Val Lewton, will know what to expect. A haunting and subtle yet suspenseful, and yes, at times quite scary, thriller. 'I Walked With A Zombie' (a classic title! Later lifted by Roky Erikson for a classic song) follows 'Cat People's ambiguous format quite closely with a series of events which may or may not have a supernatural explanation. Add a dash of 'Jane Eyre' to it and a West Indies setting and there you have it. Tourneur was a master of atmosphere and there are moments in this movie which are truly unforgettable. The two leads Tom Conway and Frances Dee are both very good, and Dee is cute to boot. I don't think 'I Walked With A Zombie' is quite as brilliant as 'Cat People', which I still think ties with the film noir classic 'Out Of The Past' as Tourneur's greatest film, but it comes very close, and I highly recommend it. If you've never seen this one before, turn off all the lights and watch with someone special. You are in for a real treat!
A nurse (Frances Dee) is assigned to the West Indies to care for the semi-comatose wife of a plantation owner (Tom Conway). Over there she becomes involved with a very dysfunctional family and the realization that her patient may be a zombie--one of the living dead. Eerie, poetic horror film--one of the great ones producer Val Lewton made for RKO on no budget. There are many creepy sequences--the crying and first meeting of Dee with her patient; the constant pounding of the voodoo drums in the distance at night; Dee being awakened by shadows outside her bedroom window; the walk through the sugar cane field to the voodoo ritual and the guard they must pass. There's also a man with a guitar who pops up from time to time acting as a Greek chorus--always commenting on the action. The script is very good and literate and the acting is actually not bad--except for Conway (who's lousy). But Ellison and Dee are good. I almost gave this a 10--but one thing kept me from doing that. The silly love story between Conway and Dee. It's not needed and is a great distraction from the plot. Also Conway's acting is so bad that it makes the scenes play even worse. Those aside though, it's a truly great horror film. A must see. Cute little trivia note: Look closely for the "Any characters and events depicted in this photoplay..." etc. etc. under the opening credits. Especially note this line: "Any similarity to actual persons living, dead, OR POSSESSED is purely coincidental." Cute joke...wonder how many people caught it.