Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Bride Who Died Twice: Season 2 Episode 25

Originally aired 3/19/62
Starring Mala Powers, Eduardo Ciannelli, Robert Colbert.
Written by Robert Hardy Andrews.
Directed by Ida Lupino.

The evil Colonel Sangriento (Joe De Santis) uses his army to exert force on his superior, General De La Verra (Ciannelli) in order to steal away the General's daughter, Consuelo (Powers). To achieve his ends, he has the General send Consuelo's fiance, Antonio (Colbert) off to battle. When Consuelo gets the news that her beloved has died in an ambush, she dies of a broken heart(?)

PE: An interesting choice for a title, wouldn't you say? Ranks right up there with the original titles of The Crying Game (She's Gotta Penis), The Sixth Sense (Dead — the ad campaign would be "Bruce Willis is... Dead"), and Planet of the Apes (Statue of Liberty on the Planet of the Apes).

JS: Sounds like a Cornell Woolrich story to me. As we've seen before, it's a long time getting to the payoff. There are interesting bits along the way, and had it been told in half the time I think it would have been twice as effective.

PE: I want to know who started the rumor that there was nothing but a wasteland post-"Markesan" 'cuz we haven't gotten there yet. I find myself in a strange situation defending these "lesser episodes" after being disappointed by several of the "established classics." Don't get me wrong, "The Bride Who Died Twice" probably wouldn't make many Top Ten Thriller lists (although it might, considering what a dog this season was) but it's got its share of moments. Well-acted by all the principals (De Santis is Snidely Whiplash evil and that's a compliment) and a good story that chugs along at a decent pace. Sure, it's a bit long but how many Thrillers were a perfect running time? Director Lupino does another good job of reining in all those noirish shadows and torture dungeons.

JS: While it does have torture, a funeral, murder and multiple deaths... it seems like there was a missing opportunity to play out a supernatural element. This is a Thriller, after all, and we've got folks thought to be dead walking around.

PE: SPOILER WARNING!! As has been apparent in the past, I'm a sucker for a downbeat ending and this one sports one reminiscent of "Prisoner in the Mirror." After being reunited with his bride, the Colonel has Antonio executed right before her eyes. As he's dying, Antonio passes a vial of poison to Consuelo, who expires in the arms of the befuddled Colonel. A nice touch is the tad of blood on the bride's dress as she rises from her dead lover.

JS: I agree the final moments are easily the show's best, but I think it's too little too late by the time the evil Sangriento gets his due. Performances were fine throughout, and Lupino works in some nice shots, but the overlong and somewhat pedestrian story makes this one just okay for me. Though Powers was a welcome return of the Babe element to Thriller.

PE: Genre fans will recognize Mala Powers from The Unkown Terror and The Colossus of New York. Colbert went on to star as Dr. Doug Phillips on the cult TV favorite Time Tunnel. Natividad Vacio, the Cantina owner who is tortured by the Colonel's thugs, was the leader of the Mexican village that rebelled against Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven.

JS: And just another friendly reminder - please don't forget to vote in our A Thriller A Day poll!

OUR RATING:

10 comments:

  1. Hmmmm....The two leads I found to be dull, Ciannelli has a certain presence and gravitas but soon disappears into a morass of tedium.

    Visually, it's far more textured than the very early crime Thrillers which just bored in their bleaching blandness and the composers give it their best shot. But there really is nothing to inspire them to the next level.

    Lupino shows her usual directorial flair: there are some fine compositions and a show-stopping (yep, I rewound the dvd to catch it again) match cut with the back of a the figure entering the lady bed chamber cutting with incredible precision, pace and rhythm to a soldier at the party for the General.

    Alas, a director biting at the chomp to do creative work, talented composers and great cinematographers ready to mesmerise and yet we get another clunker, the third turkey in a row.

    The score was more than a little ponderous. Why is it that anytime a show goes over the border, the same cliched guitar musak in suffocatingly pored all over any episode. I men, that would be like playing the Yellow Rose of Texas in every movie was set in that state. It's more than a little ponderous.

    The plot dynamic uncannily reminded me of Korda's 'The Thief of Bagdad' and I was thinking, that's Conrad Veidt, that's John Justin, that's...ect,ect. It even has a line that echoes the film, to paraphrase, "What to they know of love?" I just wish Rex Ingram had popped up to stamp on the whole sorry enterprise. It still seems to think itself as a 'Studio One' of mystery.

    No Lugosi head, but the head of one the extras in a red shirt from a Star Trek episode. Third season too...

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  2. It's notable (no pun) that Jerry Goldsmith was assigned a completely new score for this very late episode but, as usual, his music adds immeasurably to the proceedings. Again he relies on flutes (at least 3 of them), with french horns, harp, and guitar, plus occasional "extra-local" color of marimba and castanets---all of which effectively compliments the visual mix of cruelty/darkness with the luxuriant white of bridal gown, orchids, etc. (and the final plaza scene).

    I felt that the show's first half was pretty taut and compelling, but after the bride was discovered missing from her coffin (was that a mint left on her pillow?---I couldn't tell), things seemed to unravel and become much less convincing.

    For the final shot, I would guess that Ida L. was referencing the great fade-out of the 1932 "Farewell to Arms", with Gary Cooper holding his expired love (Helen Hayes) in his arms, while a flock of pigeons fluttered and soared heavenward. Well...(ahem)...as the Thriller-cam pulled out and upward, the crew guys tossed a couple of birds which barely made it into camera range, leaving one solitary pigeon to putter around the plaza; no time for a re-take, I guess (where's Crahan Denton and his flock when you need them?).

    And are we to believe that Colonel Joe de Santis is actually MOVED at the end? WHO CARES about that jerk? Ultimately, cruelty and darkness are OK in a supernatural tale, but this unrelentlessly unpleasant "reality" show, without the slightest bit of emotional relief or lightness, is not my cup of tea...at least for "Thriller".

    Five out of ten K. Heads.

    LR

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  3. Mediocre entry all-around. Superb elaboration above by Bobby J. and Larry.

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  4. Actually, I think it was a beauteous flock of DOVES that was used for the "Farewell to Arms" final shot; Thriller had to make do with their grungy, urban cousins, probably left over from the first season.

    LR

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  5. Slow, rather mundane melodrama that I'd probably consider a good episode of the Loretta Young Show; here, it's out of place and really a tepid trifle. DeSantis put in his all to be wicked but everyone else, especially Mala, looked like this was a run-through for next week's work on Follow The Sun... Four and a half Karloffs.

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  6. Simply put, this was an episode of "Zorro" without Zorro. I waited for 45 minutes for Guy Williams to show up, but instead of the charismatic lead from "Lost in Space", we get the guy from "The Time Tunnel" instead. Is it not surprising that LiS lasted three seasons, while TT only lasted one (despite the considerable appeal of Lee Meriwether)? I was hoping that the story would lead to a swordfight between Dr. Doug Phillips and Joe deSantis at the climax, or at least some sort of showdown, but no, the Colonel just shoots our hero at the end. Zorro would have gone out fighting.

    The plot SHOULD have kept the fact that Mala Powers faked her own death from us and spent the remainder of the running time showing deSantis being haunted by glimpses of her in crowd shots etc. Was she dead or was she still alive? Or was deSantis' paying the price for his perfidy with a decent into madness? Now THAT might have held my interest for 50 minutes - as it was it took me 3 nights of nodding off until I finally made it to the end. On the plus side, Ciannelli was good (as always), Thriller "regular" Peter Broco shows up as the local priest, and Lupino does what she can with the story - the final shot was nice, and I liked her flower motif she used - similar to the one she used in another sub-par episode she directed, "What Beckoning Ghost?"

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  7. I liked the branding iron in the shape of the Thriller "sticks" at the end of the Karloff introduction. Otherwise, meh.

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  8. The Bride Who Died Twice...Guess we know where this plot is headed.

    At the time, south of the border revolution was in the air and this episode mixes a bit of via la revolution with a touch of romance and a dash of Thriller.

    Like the Thriller period pieces, I'm also willing to forgive the somewhat slow pacing and less than Thriller plot. Mala Powers was a spicy Thriller muchacha that made watching Bride easy. Eduardo Ciannelli and Joe De Santis played somewhat cliched opposites of the good and evil divide, but I enjoyed their performances. Robert Colbert was perfunctory as the Latin Romeo.

    The prologue didn't involve the usual Thriller murder, but the dimly lit torture scene with the focus on the iron pokers was subtly effective. After that we got a long drawn out doomed romance tale. I thought that the combination of the cast, stage sets and music made Bride work. Looking through more sophisticated 21st century lenses, the Central/South Americanisms might seem a little hokey, but I thought they were handled with better care than similar shows I've seen from that time period.

    Colonel Sangriento was a grade A creep. Beginning with his life and death proposal to his future father-in-law and ending with his gleeful execution screening for his new bride. The wedding night scene where the eager colonel walks the steps up to his new bride's room for consummation by rape was stomach turning.

    Despite the episode title giving the ending away I still enjoyed watching the story unfold. I also enjoyed the music and felt that it was a subtle and tasteful mix of latin guitar with horn and marimba accents.

    The various style points bump The Bride Who Died Twice to two and a half Karloffs.

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  9. It's a familiar sight by now. A Thriller episode that's decently scripted and acted, but suffers from big story problems. Or maybe I'm missing something. Somebody tell me.

    First of all, the pecking order. My understanding was that the General was the governor and the Colonel his subordinate. The Colonel had information that could get the General relieved of his post, but until that happened, the General was still in charge. Except that it doesn't look that way. The Colonel calls all the shots while the General stands by. The Colonel can even order the governor tortured without relieving him of his post. What's that about?

    The Colonel is relatively good looking and certainly powerful. He could have pretty much any senorita in town for the asking, but is determined to have one who's engaged and can't stand him. Why? We're never given any reason why he should be so determined to have her.

    The plotting is odd. We have the marriage, she dies, she's buried, then the big revelation about halfway through that she faked her death. You can't help feeling that she got cheated. If this were a half hour episode, the story would have ended at that point. But no, they have to keep going, so the remaining plot pretty much undoes everything that just happened. Whoops, she did fake her death but they get caught leaving town because the Colonel just happens to be waiting at the place that they try to leave at just the right time.

    People have made that same criticism of Star Trek III, that it undoes everything that happened in Trek II. (Spock is dead, oops, no he's not. Kirk has a son, oops, no he doesn't. Spock saved the ship, oops, no he didn't.) But at least that's a completely different movie. From a literary standpoint, it feels wrong that they should pull off this whole elaborate plot to fake her death and escape, only to have it come to nothing. If the plot was foiled in some clever or ironic way, I could see it. But no, they just get caught bumbling out of town.

    The ending is completely anti-climatic. The original plan was to have Doug Phillips killed fighting in the mountains, or sucked back into the Time Tunnel, or something that would leave Sagriento's hands looking clean. But at the end, he still seems to think they can live happily ever after, after he's killed her father, and had her lover shot in front of her eyes. What planet is he on?

    Everyone seems to go down like lambs to the slaughter. The faked death shows initiative and daring, but apart from that, they do nothing. Nobody ever raises a finger to Sagriento. No hidden daggers, no hunting accidents, no "I was cleaning it and it went off", not even Thriller's #1 favorite, poisoning. Except when one of the lambs poisons herself. Heaven forbid that anyone should stand up to Sagriento even when their lives are at stake. Does Zorro have to do EVERYTHING for you people??

    So again, good acting, good scripting, good direction, but there were just too many times I found myself not believing the characters or situation.

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  10. No one has mentioned (perhaps because you're all so young) how very intense the violence and torture were for a TV show in 1962. Perhaps there were no problems with the censors because the villain would have reminded everyone of that commie Fidel Castro? Or was it because the decision had been made for cancellation so no one at the network cared? In any case this was a well-done episode that was surprisingly intense and nasty in tone and implication, with a grim-yet-anti-climactic ending. Which makes it something of a curiosity and outlander in its own time.

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