Friday, July 24, 2015

The Queen of Spades (1949)

The Queen of Spades is a horror story about what happens when you are willing to sell your soul for success at the gaming tables. Subtle and atmospheric, with more left to the imagination than is overtly revealed, this is worth watching again.

You can watch it online at this link. Here is a trailer:

DVD Talk says,
Like Rebecca, Queen of Spades has horror overtones while remaining a romance. But the creation of a world possibly dominated by fantastic forces is compelling, and we almost forget that what we see really occurring could mostly have rational explanations - the old Countess never admits to any pact of her own, after all, and her fears could just be old age. But the overly-rational Herman certainly believes that he's embroiled in a supernatural world, and that's where the picture works. It's a unique thriller.
BFI Screen Online closes with this: "This is one of British cinema's greatest ghost stories, from a director described by Martin Scorsese as "a uniquely intelligent, passionate artist"". The Guardian has a nice -though-short- appreciation. The Telegraph calls it "An underseen treasure from the perpetually-underrated British master Thorold Dickinson". Slant Magazine says, "this Poe-like tale of deceit and ghostly vengeance is sumptuous and effective." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.


  1. "the overly-rational Herman certainly believes that he's embroiled in a supernatural world"

    It is funny, I was just having a discussion with someone the other day about how the people I know who are real believers of ghosts, angels, and the super-natural, are all very down-to-earth, rational, only-believe-it-when-I-see-it kind of people. Personally, I lean heavily towards the view that the mind is a very powerful thing and find that even a non-believer can successfully use the practices of religion and magic, as long as one believes in the practices themselves. But if one has implicit trust in one´s mind, the only explanation for the experience of the super-natural must be that whatever it is is absolutely real.

    This looks like a great film. I am always amazed at how those olden film-directors made use of light. I suppose they still do, it is just not as obvious.

  2. I have repeatedly been told that logic is an excellent evangelism tool, that you can talk someone into faith if you use reason and logical argument... I'm not convinced ;) "Seeing is believing" is tricky if you don't understand what it is you're seeing.

    Those black & white movies are amazing in what they do with lighting.