Experiment Perilous is a 1944 melodrama set at the turn of the 20th century. The film is based on a 1943 novel by Margaret Carpenter and directed by Jacques Tourneur. Albert S. D'Agostino, Jack Okey, Darrell Silvera, and Claude E. Carpenter were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White. Hedy Lamarr's singing voice was dubbed by Paula Raymond.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jacques Tourneur|
|Produced by||Warren Duff|
|Screenplay by||Warren Duff|
|Based on||the novel|
by Margaret Carpenter
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||RKO Pictures|
The story takes place in 1903. During a train trip, psychiatrist Dr. Huntington Bailey (George Brent) meets a friendly older lady (Olive Blakeney), when she turns to him for reassurance during a torrential downpour. She tells him that she is going to visit her brother Nick and his lovely young wife Allida, both of whom she effectively raised. Once in New York, Bailey hears that his train companion suddenly died while visiting her brother for tea. Shortly afterwards, he meets the strange couple and becomes suspicious of Nick's treatment of his wife. Nick (Paul Lukas) keeps Allida (Hedy Lamarr), whom he is trying to pass off as crazy, a virtual prisoner in their town house [a New York brownstone in the film], cutting off all contact with the outside world. The kindly Bailey takes it upon himself to attempt to free his new love Allida from the control of the insanely jealous Nick.
A frenzied gun battle and fist fight in their home, featuring the destruction of several large aquariums, replete with shattered glass, gushing water and floundering fish may be the most memorable (and most often imitated) scene in the film. The house burns to the ground due to Nick's actions (killing him), but Allida, her son and Hunt end up living happily in the country.
- Hedy Lamarr as Allida Bederaux
- George Brent as Dr. Huntington Bailey
- Paul Lukas as Nick Bederaux
- Albert Dekker as Clag
- Carl Esmond as Maitland
- Olive Blakeney as Cissie
- George N. Neise as Alec
- Margaret Wycherly as Maggie
- Stephanie Bachelor as Elaine
- Mary Servoss as Miss Wilson
- Julia Dean as Deria
- Sam McDaniel as Train Porter
- William Post Jr. as District Attorney
- Bill Ward as young Alec
The production dates for the film were July 12 through early October 1944.
According to pre-production news items in The Hollywood Reporter, this film was originally to be produced by David Hempstead and star Cary Grant. After Hempstead terminated his contract with RKO, Grant dropped out of the project and Robert Fellows was assigned to produce it. Gregory Peck was then slated to star in the male lead, but a prior commitment to David O. Selznick productions forced him to bow out.
To create the snow storm sequence, the studio used one hundred tons of ice and six wind machines
Experiment Perilous was presented on Screen Guild Players October 12, 1946. Brent reprised his screen role, and Joan Bennett and Adolphe Menjou co-starred. George Brent reprised his role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on September 10, 1945, co-starring Virginia Bruce.
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