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Devil worshippers in Greenwich Village? Who would have thought? Actually, we wouldn't give it a second thought if we were talking about modern day New York but in 1943, the idea of Satanists thriving in such a quaint urban neighborhood was a rather novel and frightening prospect, something writer Ira Levin would exploit much later in his bestselling shocker, Rosemary's Baby.
In The Seventh Victim, Greenwich Village is a dark and foreboding place where despair, suicide, and death are a daily reality and a neighborhood cafe called Dante's doesn't seem at all out of place. Wandering into this maze of darkness is Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter), an orphan in search of her missing sister Jacqueline. When she discovers that Jacqueline was involved with a satanic cult called the Palladists, Mary turns to her sister's husband, Dr. Judd (Tom Conway) for help in locating Jacqueline.
After the success of Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, and The Leopard Man, producer Val Lewton lost the services of Jacques Tourneur, the gifted director behind those influential thrillers. Tourneur was promoted at RKO and no longer affordable so Lewton turned to film editor Mark Robson to direct The Seventh Victim as his debut feature under Lewton's close supervision. (Robson would go on to direct four more pictures for Lewton). The result was Lewton's most personal film which expressed some of his own fears and incorporated some of his favorite literary interests such as the poetry of John Donne: "I run to Death, and Death meets me as fast, and all my Pleasures are like Yesterdays." The film was also the film debut of Kim Hunter (She had just changed her name from Janet Cole) and featured Chef Milani, well-known at the time for his bottled salad dressings, in a small role as a Italian chef.
Director: Mark Robson
Producer: Val Lewton
Screenplay: DeWitt Bodeen, Charles O'Neal
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Principal Cast: Kim Hunter (Mary Gibson), Tom Conway (Dr. Louis Judd), Jean Brooks (Jacqueline Gibson), Isabel Jewell (Frances Fallon), Elizabeth Russell (Mimi), Hugh Beaumont (Gregory Ward).
By Jeff Stafford