THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (1936)
(a.k.a. SWEENEY TODD, THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET)
Article #62 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 5-17-2001
Posting date: 9-30-2001
An evil barber, Sweeney Todd (Tod Slaughter), makes his fortune by murdering rich customers and taking their money. He is partners with an old woman running a meat pie shop, who takes care of the disposal of the bodies. Problems arise when his partner begins to suspect he is cheating on splitting the money with her. She ends up helping the beau of the woman whom Sweeney wants for his own.
This is the first and (at this time) only Tod Slaughter movie I’ve seen; there is no doubt that he loved playing villainous characters, with his gleeful laugh and contempt for all. The whole story is fun, with Sweeney as a Dickensian villain, terrorizing his apprentices and cajoling his victims with the promise of how quickly he will “polish them off.” I also like how the movie never becomes explicit in how the old lady disposes of the bodies; it adds some nice touches of comic subtlety to the movie, my favorite being a discussion on that particular topic as one of the comic relief characters merrily munches away on one of the meat pies.