Bluebeard (1972)

Article 3206 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-29-2010
Posting Date: 5-25-2010
Directed by Edward Dmytryk and Luciano Sacripanti
Featuring Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, Joey Heatherton
Country: France/Italy/West Germany
What it is: Updated take on the Bluebeard story

A World War I veteran, presently a Nazi, has murdered several of his wives. His current wife discovers where he has hidden their bodies, and, in order to save her own life, tries to get to the bottom of his problem.

In the opening scene of this movie, we discover that the title character actually does have a blue beard. It could be argued that this revelation is actually a surprise, I suppose, as you don’t really expect that degree of obviousness; nevertheless, there was something about the literalness of it that annoyed me. As for the rest of the movie, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Our title character has a pet falcon, plays the organ, and keeps his dead mother in the attic, with all of these conventional horror trappings, I tried to figure out if it was straight horror or camp, but the movie never really veers one way or the other. It’s only when he starts to tell the tales of his previous wives that the movie takes a definite direction, as the movie clearly becomes a black comedy; unfortunately, it doesn’t stay on that level. And once you find out the reason he’s killing all his wives… well, let’s just say the revelation isn’t worth the two-plus hour length of this movie. Richard Burton actually underplays for much of the movie, which may have been a mistake; I think this is one movie that could have used a bit more hamminess. In the end, the movie is an unsatisfying mixture of horror, black comedy, sex comedy and drama, and I emerged from more confused and frustrated than anything.


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