Among the Living


1h 7m 1941

Brief Synopsis

Paul Raden (Albert Dekker), hopelessly insane son of Maxim Raden, hated owner of the Radentown mills, is in a strait jacket in a secret room in the family mansion, while the body of his father is lowered into a grave. Twenty-five years earlier, the brutal father had hurled Paul against a wall when the young boy had tried to defend his mother and, with his brain injured forever, Paul's last memory, before descending into the shadows on insanity, was his mother's agonized scream. At the graveside are Dr. Ben Saunders (Harry Carey), Paul's twin brother John (Albert Dekker) and John's wife Elaine (Frances Farmer.) Pompey (Ernest Whitman), the family servant who has cared for and guarded Paul and kept the family secret for a quarter of a century,watches from afar. That night Dr. Saunders tells John that his twin, who he thought dead, is alive as the father, refusing to commit him to an institution, had bribed the doctor to sign a false death certificate and then bury another child's body as Paul. John and the doctor visit Radenhouse and find Pompey strangled and Paul vanished. While they search frantically for Paul, the latter revels in his freedom and falls in love with the first girl he meets, Milly Pickens (Susan Hayward), an unemployed mill worker. He wanders into a honky-tonk filled with dancing jitterbugs (Patti Lacey, Roy Lester, Ray Hirsch and Jane Allen), where a pretty blonde, Peggy Nolan (Jean Phillips), flirts with him. Her body is found the next morning near the closed-down Raden Mills. Terrorized by the second murder and the thought that a homicidal maniac is on the loose, the town goes mad with fear and greed when Dr. Saunders tricks John into offering a $5,000 reward for the killer. Milly purchases a revolver and persuades Paul, whose demented mind has forgotten the murders, to accompany her to Radenhouse on her hunch that the murderer is hiding there.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 19, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Dec 1941
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,198ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

John Raden, scion of the wealthiest family in the town of Raden, returns home for his father's funeral with his new wife Elaine after an absence of twenty-five years. John is shocked to learn from the family physician, Dr. Ben Saunders, that Paul, John's twin brother, who he thought had died when he was ten, is actually still alive and lives at the old estate with his black caretaker Pompey. Ben explains that Paul went insane as a child after his father struck him severely when Paul saw him abusing his mother. His father, hoping to spare John, sent John away and Ben falsified Paul's death certificate. Paul now has become crazed by the thought of his father being buried next to his dear mother and murders Pompey in order to get away from the house, after which he exhumes his father's body. Although Paul seeks out Ben, he flees from him when he realizes that Ben intends to continue keeping him prisoner in the old Raden house. While Paul wanders into the city, Ben falsifies Pompey's death certificate, saying that he died of a heart attack. Paul uses a pseudonym at a boardinghouse where Millie Pickens, the landlady's daughter, flirts with him until he naïvely gives her money to buy a new dress. Paul then finds John and his wife at the hotel, but when John mentions Ben's name, Paul becomes irrational and strikes John. Disturbed, Paul later wanders into a café where Peggy Nolan, a slinky blonde, entices him into buying her a drink. When he starts to speak about Millie, however, with whom he is infatuated, Peggy becomes offended and dances with another man. The drink and the noise affect Paul, and he lurches outside, lurking in the shadows until Peggy leaves late at night. Paul follows Peggy and, at the end of a dark alley, strangles her to death. The next day, the newspaper links Peggy and Pompey's deaths because both bodies were found in the same position. Bill Oakley, a boarder and one of many citizens who are already angry because they have been unemployed since the Radens closed the textile mill, forms a vigilante group, which is incited to action when John, pressured by Ben, announces a $5,000 reward for the capture of the killer. Millie eagerly gets her father's pistol and takes the unwilling Paul to Raden House, which the townspeople think of as a haunted house, because she thinks it is the likeliest hiding place for the murderer. When Millie starts to go into Paul's mother's bedroom, he becomes unbalanced and tries to kill her. She is rescued by Bill and his friend, who have followed them there. A fight ensues between the three men, but when Paul is shot, he escapes, and John enters the house and is mistaken for his maniacal brother. News spreads that the killer has been captured, and the angry crowd forces the town judge to hold a hearing immediately. John is unable to convince the people of his identity until Ben, who has been convinced by Elaine to tell the truth, arrives and reveals the true history. Ben is arrested and Paul is found slumped over his mother's grave, dead.

Film Details

Release Date
Dec 19, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Dec 1941
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 7m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,198ft (8 reels)

Quotes

I had one of them Frenchmen living here last year. Honest to goodness every time you'd turn 'round, that Frenchman was grabbin' your hand and kissing until he'd like to pull the skin off.
- Mrs. Pickens
Say, if I had a wad of folding dough like that I'd go right out and buy an outfit that would knock this neighborhood cockeyed!
- Millie Pickens
You're not afraid -- at all?
- Paul Raden
For five thousand dollars, I'm not afraid of anything, not even death!
- Millie Pickens

Trivia

Notes

A Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Joseph Youngerman was slated to act as art director on this project but there is no further indication that he worked on the film. According to information in NARS, the New York Board of Review disapproved this film for general export because the trial scene, which portrays a lawless lynch mob trying "John Raden" without proper court proceedings, could be misused by propagandists in other countries.