Bait (1954)

BAIT (1954)
Article #1320 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-25-2004
Posting Date: 3-24-2005
Directed by Hugo Haas
Featuring Cleo Moore, Hugo Haas, John Agar

A prospector goes into partnership with a young man to locate a lost gold mine. When the mine is found, his greed prompts him to hatch a scheme to get rid of the unwanted partner.

Fantastic content: the story is initially narrated by the Devil in the form of Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

The first encounter I ever had cinematically with Hugo Haas was with the fascinating BILA NEMOC (SKELETON ON HORSEBACK). I was quite surprised by the quality of this movie, since my initial knowledge of the man and his work was from “The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film”, which mentions him in connection with a series of low-budget (and quite bad) noirish potboilers he made during the fifties. My expectations were quite low for this one. Having now watched it, I can attest that it’s no classic, but it’s hardly an embarrassment; in fact, I quite liked some of it. In particular, I like Haas’ performance; I found him quite interesting as a man neither as mad or as stupid as he appears to be. I also felt John Agar did a good job with a somewhat more difficult role than he was usually given. I’m less taken with Cleo Moore, who was attractive, but really doesn’t show much in the way of real acting talent. I also like some of the visual tricks used by Haas; in particular, a scene where Agar and Moore talk, their bodies lit but their faces in darkness, caught my attention. Still, the best scene easily is the introduction, in which Sir Cedric Hardwicke (“quite a good actor”) climbs a flight of stairs, signs a bunch of autographs, and introduces himself as the devil.


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