July 7, 1958 [Curse of the Demon]

Jacques Tourneur drags his drooping frame to England, foggy tendrils from Out of the Past trailing behind him--but this time it's not a melancholy gangster daring to look back at Something gaining on him--as Satchel Paige has warned us against--but a Man of Science, Dana Andrews sticking out his chin with confidence.

But this is Tourneur's picture, so there are no comforting straight lines, right angles--it's like the sudden wind storm at the frightened wizard's estate: a children's party scatters while the wizard in his clown-face smiles, brushing off empirical certainties like cake crumbs.

It was dismaying, the way that little scrap of paper with the spell fluttered at everyone's ankles, looking for purchase, hoping to crush someone and be passed along to start it all again. The wizard is nothing, Satan's stooge, as much a victim as his victims--in Tourner's world eliciting sudden sympathy as he scrambles along the cinders at the train station, the chiaroscuro of night and fiery demon almost pretty, like sunshine after a storm--but without the sunshine, just lightning after all, sharp as Occam's Razor, a simple curse handed along--and doubled back--without malice.


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