For 1936 that was a good English
film? No embellishment, just the drama, the horror, the descent into hellish
London when Fleet Street was really deserving its name when it was the disembarking
entrance into London for all ships that still went up the Thames beyond Tower
The Barber is Sweeney Todd and
the pie-maker is Mrs. Lovatt. They are associates in crime to share the profits
since it targets isolated travelers arriving on the ships mostly from the
Indies, West or East, or even in-between Africa
The objective of their waiting for them and then on them is to rob them and
make them disappear, though there is no real allusion to any cannibalism.
Johanna is the daughter of a
shipmaster who sends a new ship at sea and has accepted to be associated to Sweeney
Todd (12,000 pounds
mind you). But the contract was probably not correct and the ship is announced
as lost. Sweeney Todd will then bring the shipmaster down or if the latter
wants to save his bones he can give the former his daughter in marriage. The
It is then the arrival of the
supposedly lost ship is announced and the captain is apparently Johanna’s
lover. Be careful we are in the Victorian period. Lover only means that he
expects to marry her one day, virginal and pure of course.
And that’s when the plot sickens
without thickening too much. Rivalry between the pie-maker and the barber,
greed on both sides and mishaps on all sides leads to the happy ending we are
expecting. The evil ones are punished by death and the good ones are rewarded
with marriage and the loot of the evil ones. Isn’t it moralistically pure?
It is classified as a horror
film. It is in fact a rather bleak crime story from the 19th century
sandwiched between an introduction and a conclusion in a barber’s shop of the
1930s. The “modern time” customer suddenly doesn’t fancy the razor..