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I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved | | Drama, Fantasy, Horror | 30 April 1943 (USA)
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A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

Director:

Jacques Tourneur

Writers:

Curt Siodmak (screenplay), Ardel Wray (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Ellison ... Wesley Rand
Frances Dee ... Betsy Connell
Tom Conway ... Paul Holland
Edith Barrett ... Mrs. Rand
James Bell ... Dr. Maxwell
Christine Gordon Christine Gordon ... Jessica Holland
Theresa Harris ... Alma - Maid (as Teresa Harris)
Sir Lancelot Sir Lancelot ... Calypso Singer
Darby Jones ... Carrefour
Jeni Le Gon Jeni Le Gon ... Dancer (as Jeni LeGon)
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Storyline

Young Canadian nurse Betsy comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager Paul Holland. Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

She's alive... yet dead! She's dead... yet alive! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 April 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Yo dormí con un fantasma See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The two figures seen walking along the beach during the opening credits are Frances Dee and Darby Jones. See more »

Goofs

When Besty goes to talk with Wes on the porch about an hour into the film, they are both lit by light coming through the louvered door to the left. But, in the next closer shot, that striped lighting pattern disappears. See more »

Quotes

Betsy Connell: [Betsy Connell and Mr. Holland are walking through the garden together] Why was the maid crying?
Paul Holland: I'm not sure I can make you understand.
[He stops and points at an odd-looking sculpture in the garden]
Paul Holland: Do you know what this is?
Betsy Connell: A figure of Saint Sebastian.
Paul Holland: Yes. But it was once the figurehead of a slave ship. That's where our people came from. From the misery and pain of slavery. For generations they found life a burden. That's why they still weep when a child is born and make merry at a burial... ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning, in small letters at the bottom of the screen is this disclaimer: The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to any persons, living, dead, OR POSSESSED, is entirely coincidental. See more »


Soundtracks

The British Grenadiers
(uncredited)
Music: 18th century or earlier
Lyrics anonymous
Played on guitar and Sung by Sir Lancelot
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Genuinely spooky.
19 October 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) is a Canadian nurse hired to come to the Caribbean island of St. Sebastian, to work at Fort Holland. There she will attend to the needs of the mute, unresponsive, yet seemingly alive Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon). Jessica is wife to a plantation owner named Paul Holland (Tom Conway), with whom Betsy falls in love. Betsy becomes determined to do the right thing by Paul by trying to cure her, if she can. That includes immersing herself in the local voodoo culture.

There may be modern horror fans who bemoan the lack of what one might consider horror in "I Walked with a Zombie". It starts to go for more of a traditional creep factor in its second half, using the imposing Darby Jones as the mysterious, zombified Carrefour to great effect. Everything is handled with a great deal of sensitivity and authenticity by screenwriters Curt Siodmak & Ardel Wray, producer Val Lewton, and director Jacques Tourneur. Unlike some of the horror product of the time, it actually treats its black characters with a great deal of dignity and respect, and also gives the actors a chance to shine, such as Theresa Harris as Alma the maid.

As was always the case with these Lewton productions, the story (based to some degree on Jane Eyre, with factual articles on voodoo in the West Endies also used as a basis) is pretty tight, and the running time is typically short. (69 minutes all told.) We don't get to know the characters all that well, but we do still like them, and in a refreshing touch, there are no clear cut villains or explanations for the strange events. The actors each do a solid job: Dee as the heroine, Conway as the husband, James Ellison as his half brother, Edith Barrett (in old age make-up) as their mother, James Bell as the doctor, and Sir Lancelot as the calypso singer. As one can see, some of the cast were regulars in these Lewton films.

Overall, there's a real feeling of sadness to the atmosphere, helping to make this one of the best of Lewtons' filmography. One wouldn't know from the end result how quickly and cheaply these productions were made, as they have the power to grip their viewers 70 plus years later.

Eight out of 10.


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