“ Actors: Richard Boone, Theodore Bikel, Peggy Maurer, Howard Smith, Herbert Anderson / Director: Albert Band / Classification: 12 / Studio: Elstree Hill Entertainment / DVD Release Date: 25 Oct 2004 / Run Time: 77 minutes „
RELEASED: 1958, Cert. UR
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 76 mins
DIRECTOR: Albert Band
PRODUCERS: Albert Band & Louis Garfinkle
SCREENPLAY: Louis Garfinkle
MUSIC: Gerald Fried
Robert Kraft as Richard Boone
Andy MacKee as Theodore Bikel
Howard Smith as George Kraft
Peggy Maurer as Ann Craig
Herbert Anderson as Jess Jessup
Robert Osterloh as Lt. Clayborne
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Richard Boone is elected as director of a cemetery which is managed by the company he works for. He is reluctant to take the position due to being under too much pressure in other areas of his career, but his colleagues manage to persuade him as within the company, he is next in line for the position and to accept it would be a good PR exercise.
On arriving at the cemetery, Richard meets Theodore Bikel, the current manager and tombstone engraver. Richard tells Theodore he is no longer needed, and that his employment will terminate on full salary....however, for some reason which I was unable to work out, Theodore stays on.
On Richard's first day, Theodore shows him an intricate map of the cemetery on which all the people in the small local community who are still living and have reserved plots for when their time to die arrives, are represented by a white pin, and all those who have died and are buried or about to be buried in the cemetery are represented by a black pin.
As notice of a few more deaths comes through, Richard tries his skill with changing the position of the pins on the map, but he makes a mistake, accidentally putting black pins in the places where white pins should have been....and, very shortly afterwards, the deaths of the people were announced who Richard had wrongly allocated black pins to.
Richard tries to confide in his girlfriend and his superiors at work about what has happened, but they all put it down to a simple mistake coupled with coincidence. Richard isn't convinced though as he feels his mistake is causing undue deaths, and to prove his point, he becomes obsessed with swapping black and white pins over at random on the map to test what will happen....the result of which uncovers some dastardly dealings.
From the title of this film, I was expecting a gory horror, 1950s style.
Shot in black and white, I Bury The Living as far as I'm concerned, starts off on the wrong foot in that there is no creepy atmosphere and I found the concept of the story, being the placement of the black and white pins on the map of the cemetery, to be very bland.....it didn't grip me at all. Also, I was finding it difficult to understand the character of Theodore's broad Scots accent, which is odd, as it is a brogue that I normally have no trouble with. Consequently, I was losing a fair chunk of what was being said.
The storyline evolves into something which is obviously meant to be tense and thrilling, yet I found it to be lacking sparkle and I began to yawn my way through the rather dreary scenes.....just waiting for something gripping to happen that never did.
The acting from the whole of the main cast is acceptable, but nothing out of the ordinary, and it is in typical 1950s style....I have seen a lot better in many other films from this era.
Running alongside the bafflingly tedious storyline about the placement of black and white pins on the cemetery map, is a rather wishy-washy romance between Richard and Ann Craig, his fiancée. As a couple, their connection to one another seemed minimal and shallow, which I found rather odd for two people who are supposed to be madly in love and on the verge of marrying.
As far as the music is concerned, I found it irritatingly over-dramatic with the brass section being far too heavy. However, there are fairly lengthy stretches during the film where there is no music, so that helped my poor ears recover a bit until the next bludgeoning of an overload of brass instruments.
There was a point during the storyline of I Bury The Living where when the police got involved, it could have taken a very interesting turn, but sadly it just didn't travel down that path. It is probably very arrogant of me to say this, but had I been the story and script writer, my own idea is exactly where I would have taken it as I feel it could have opened up some interesting food for thought snippets.
All in all, I Bury The Living is a film that I was expecting a lot more from, but it limped along with little or no excitement. The ending also left me cold as I just couldn't work out properly what was supposed to be happening. I consider the reason may have been that by the end, I was so bored with the whole thing that I'd lost the ability to comprehend the connection with the rest of the rather weak story. The overall reason for the mix-up with the pins is moderately interesting, but I'm afraid has been very poorly conveyed.
I personally wouldn't recommend I Bury The Living, as to me it isn't typical of the ruling standard which the better films from the 1950s set and thrived upon. There does appear to be an attempt at presenting it with a tinge of art-noir, but it just doesn't work.....at least not for me.
At the time of writing, I Bury The Living can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £11.78 to £11.79 (only 3 copies currently available)
Used: from 96p to £7.99
Some DVDs on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
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