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Projecting the Archive

The Dark Tower

+ intro by BFI Curator Josephine Botting

Herbert Lom is great as the suave yet menacing hypnotist who divides the loyalties of a big-top troupe.

Image from The Dark Tower + intro by BFI Curator Josephine Botting

UK 1942
Dir John Harlow
With Herbert Lom, Anne Crawford, David Farrar, Ben Lyon
93min
35mm
Certificate PG

Phil Danton’s circus is on the point of collapse when a mysterious stranger arrives offering his services. Can he save the cash-strapped troupe from bankruptcy, or does he have more sinister goals? Herbert Lom gives a compelling performance as the suave yet menacing hypnotist whose presence divides the loyalties of the big-top performers. Director Harlow juggles the film’s unsettling elements with some light relief, mostly provided by Elsie Wagstaff as the world-weary wife of the circus accountant. The original play and its 1934 screen version (The Man with Two Faces, starring Edward G Robinson) were set in the American theatrical world; its transposition to the circus enhances the story’s dramatic possibilities immensely.


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