Manfish (1956)

MANFISH (1956)
Article #1379 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-23-2004
Posting Date: 5-22-2005
Directed by W. Lee Wilder
Featuring John Bromfield, Victor Jory, Lon Chaney Jr.

When a sailor discovers a skeleton at the bottom of the sea holding a bottle, he retrieves a ring and a map from it. He then tries to force the man with the matching ring to produce his half of the map so they go treasure hunting.

Don’t let the title fool you; this is not a variant on THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON; the manfish of the title is the name of a boat. And don’t let the fact that the movie is adapted from two Poe stories lead you into thinking it’s a horror movie; “The Gold Bug” is one of Poe’s non-horror stories, and the borrowings from “The Tell-Tale Heart” have little horror content to them. Yet, because of the title and the Poe and Chaney connections, some people lump this in to the horror category when it’s really just an adventure story of sorts with a small snatch of horror at times. On the plus side, some of the underwater imagery is memorable, Chaney has a decent role as the only really likable major character, Jory does a good job with his role even if he does chew the scenery a bit, and the Jamaican settings are suitably exotic. On the down side, the story isn’t much fun, especially as the two primary characters are both unpleasant characters; you get really tired of people calling each other “stupid” in the movie. It’s also turgidly directed, and even the Jamaican music isn’t particularly memorable. All in all, it’s a bit of a snoozer, if not totally worthless.

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