Hangover Square - 1954

Year: 1945
Director: John Brahm
Screenplay: Barre Lyndon from the novel Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Actors: Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders
Music: Bernard Herrmann


Devil Doll fans will be familiar with the mysterious George Harvey Bone since Dies Irae's liner notes state that the music on the album was inspired by the life and works of this mysterious musician. Despite extensive research we were unable to locate any record by (or in fact anything about) the elusive Mr. Bone? until the lucky day when we saw HANGOVER SQUARE, a nearly forgotten and criminally underrated 1945 movie which finally solved the enigma: Mr. Doctor was inspired by HANGOVER SQUARE's main character, the doomed George Harvey Bone, a (fictitious) music composer whose marvelous `Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra' is premiered during the last ten dramatic minutes of the movie.
A tragic story of mental insanity and sick love set in 19th century (Victorian) London, HANGOVER SQUARE was directed by German refugee John Brahm and starred young actor extraordinaire Laird Cregar: the same director/actor team who had scored a great success in 1944 with THE LODGER, arguably the definitive Jack The Ripper film. Devil Doll fans will be delighted in finding some of Mr. Doctor's leit-motifs ? in the music (the Concerto Macabre has a Devil Doll-esque feel to it and is gloriously opened by Mr. Doctor's favourite interval: the triton also known as `diabolus in musica') and in the story (the MISTER Hyde/DOCTOR Jekyll dual obsession), but HANGOVER SQUARE is on the whole a wonderful little movie (the Guy Fawkes bonfire sequence is pure magic, as the haunting Grand Finale is!).The score - composed by the master of the irrational, Bernard Herrmann - is a must-have: a few versions exist on CD but the best are the original soundtrack issued on the Tsunami label and the excellent re-recording (with much better sound quality) on RCA with Achucarro on piano.
The movie had a truly nightmarish production and some members of the crew claimed that it was `cursed': John Brahm eventually managed to complete it, but the `curse' continued to plague the three star actors. By the time HANGOVER SQUARE premiered (on February 7, 1945), Laird Cregar had already died, killed by a heart attack (on December 9, 1944, aged 31). Linda Darnell was the second victim of HANGOVER SQUARE's `curse' and her fate closely followed that of her character in the movie: in 1947, while filming FOREVER AMBER, she nearly burned as a roof on fire fell on her; in 1950, while shooting NO WAY OUT, she almost burned again when her car exploded; finally in 1965, she was caught in a burning house and died (aged 41) after suffering third degree burns over 90 percent of her body. The `curse' seemed more generous with George Sanders, but his life progressively deteriorated into depression until the actor took his own life in 1972 leaving an infamous suicide note: "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool ? Good luck".

-Jane and Francis-