6.8/10
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64 user 41 critic

Bedlam (1946)

Approved | | Drama, Horror, Thriller | 10 May 1946 (USA)
Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »

Director:

Mark Robson

Writers:

William Hogarth (suggested by The William Hogarth painting Bedlam Plate #8 "The Rake's Progress"), Val Lewton (screenplay) (as Carlos Keith) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Master George Sims
Anna Lee ... Nell Bowen
Billy House ... Lord Mortimer
Richard Fraser ... The Stonemason
Glen Vernon ... The Gilded Boy (as Glenn Vernon)
Ian Wolfe ... Sidney Long
Jason Robards Sr. ... Oliver Todd (as Jason Robards)
Leyland Hodgson ... That Devil Wilkes (as Leland Hodgson)
Joan Newton Joan Newton ... Dorothea the Dove
Elizabeth Russell ... Mistress Sims
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Storyline

Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries to bring support to reforming Bedlam, but the cruel Master Sims who runs it has her committed there. The inmates, however, have the last say. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sensational Secrets of Infamous Mad-house EXPOSED! (1946 one-sheet poster)

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 May 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chamber of Horrors See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The comment Sims makes to Nell about the inmates, "Fierce as wild bulls, untameable as flies, these have oft from strangers' side snatched rapiers suddenly and done much harm", is a quote from the play, 'The Honest Whore' by Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton See more »

Goofs

In the early scene where Nell and Lord Mortimer drive by in a carriage, Nell is holding her cockatoo. Depending on the shot, the cockatoo's position and behavior change completely - in some it is sitting absolutely still, in others it is curled up preening itself. See more »

Quotes

Lord Mortimer: A capital fellow, this Sims, a capital fellow.
Nell Bowen: If you ask me, M'Lord, he's a stench in the nostrils, a sewer of ugliness, and a gutter brimming with slop.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Thoughtful Film Provides Atmospheric Chills
3 August 2002 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

The Apothecary General of BEDLAM finds his asylum a convenient place to immure his personal enemies.

This was the third of three RKO thrillers which Boris Karloff starred in for producer Val Lewton (the other two being ISLE OF THE DEAD & THE BODY SNATCHER, both 1945). Lewton had the knack of producing films full of atmosphere & menace on a very low budget. BEDLAM is no exception and Karloff gives an especially compelling performance. Gaunt & leering, calmly accepting death and torture as part of his grim business, he shows the monstrous depths to which brutish humanity is able to sink while yet retaining a veneer of civility. His behavior is the stuff of nightmares & his fate is thoroughly deserved.

Anna Lee is spirited in the role of a nobleman's protégée who gradually becomes a champion of fairer treatment for the inmates. Richard Fraser quietly underplays his part as a stern Quaker stonemason who attempts to rescue Miss Lee from Bedlam. Billy House as an obese lord & Ian Wolfe as a barrister confined to Bedlam both offer fine support.

Movie mavens will spot an unbilled Ellen Corby as one of the lunatics.

*****************************

Built as a priory in 1247 for the order of the Star of Bethlehem, the structure was first used as a hospital in 1330. Mental patients began arriving by 1403 and Henry VIII made it exclusively a lunatic asylum in 1547. At the time portrayed in the film, the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem had been moved from Bishopsgate to Moorfields and the name had generally been corrupted to ‘Bedlam.' Great abuses did take place there during the 18th Century and members of refined society were allowed for a fee to view the inmates. Now located in Shirley, near Beckenham, it is known as the Bethlehem Royal Hospital and is England's leading facility for the treatment of the mentally ill.

The term ‘bedlam' has come to mean ‘a confused uproar.'

The paintings seen throughout the film are by William Hogarth (1697-1764), whose 1735 series A Rake's Progress included a scene set in Bedlam.


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