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Sweeney Todd - George King - 1936


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Unsuspecting wealthy customers have their pockets picked and their throats slit in Sweeney Todd's barber chair. His accomplice, Mrs. Lovatt, grinds the victims into the meat pies she shells in her pastry shop. Meanwhile, the mad barber has a romantic eye on a beautiful daughter of a business partner whom he is threatening to ruin financially. She, however, is in love with a handsome seaman who has embarked on a trip to earn the money he will need to wed her. When he returns as a wealthy man to his bride-to-be, he first stops for a shave at Sweeney's chamber of horrors. The demented barber sharpens his razor to make the young man his next victim!

 

Tod Slaughter's remarkable talent for playing over-the-top maniacs in macabre Victorian settings in films like Murder In The Red Barn reached a pinnacle with Sweeney Todd. His delightful grin and maniacal glee after "polishing off' his victims is a trademark of the actor, who never gained quite the fame of his counterparts of the era, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Directed with a smart tongue-in-cheek flair by George King, who helmed the best of Slaughter's films, Sweeney Todd features sharp performances and witty dialogue that transcends the age of the film. The bizarre and gruesome subject matter gained renewed interest nearly four decades later when Stephen Sondheim adapted the story into an unlikely smash Broadway musical.

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