The Seventh Victim

The Seventh Victim

name = The Seventh Victim

size =
caption = theatrical Poster
director = Mark Robson
producer = Val Lewton
writer = DeWitt Bodeen
Charles O'Neal
starring = Tom Conway Jean Brooks Isabel Jewell Kim Hunter
music = Roy Webb
cinematography = Nicholas Musuraca
edited =
distributor = RKO Radio Pictures
released = 21 August fy|1943 "(US)"
runtime = 71 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0036341|

"The Seventh Victim" (fy|1943) is a horror film noir starring Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, Kim Hunter (in her first film), and Hugh Beaumont, directed by Mark Robson, and produced by noted film producer Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures. [imdb title|id=0036341.]


Mary, a young woman (Kim Hunter) at Miss Highcliff's boarding school, finds out that her sister Jacqueline (Brooks), who is her only relative, has gone missing and has not paid her tuition in months. The school officials tell her she can only stay on if she works for the school, to pay her tuition.

Mary decides to leave school and try to find her sister. She returns to New York City, and finds that her sister had sold her cosmetics business eight months earlier. She locates the apartment Jacqueline was renting, and finds the only things in the room are a chair and a noose hanging from the ceiling. Knowing that her sister has never feared death only makes Mary more anxious and determined to find her.

Her investigation leads to her Jacqueline's secret husband Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont), a failed poet (Erford Gage), and a mysterious psychiatrist, Dr. Judd (Tom Conway). A private detective (Lou Lubin) helps her in her investigation, but is killed.

Dr. Judd helps her locate the sister, who turns out to be hiding from a Satanic cult her co-workers were part of called the Palladists. During the investigation, Ward falls in love with Mary, his sister-in-law. Meanwhile, Jacqueline is kidnapped by the cult members who insist that she kill herself, because the rules of the cult state that anyone who talks about the cult must die. She would be the seventh person condemned under these rules, hence the film's title.

However, the cult has rules against violence, and decides that Jacqueline, who is suicidal anyway, should kill herself. When she refuses, the cult members let her leave, only to be stalked on the streets by an assassin. She escapes and returns to Mary's apartment, which is next to her own. Before she can enter though, she meets her neighbor, a deathly ill young woman (Elizabeth Russell). The woman tells her she’s afraid to die, but she is tired of keeping quiet and fearing death. She decides to have a night out before she dies.

Jacqueline, having lost the will to live, enters the room she rented and kills herself. The sick woman walks down the stairs dressed for a night out and hears a thud, but thinks nothing of it.


"The Seventh Victim" may be regarded as an unofficial prequel to Lewton's 1942 film "Cat People." Tom Conway's character Dr. Judd appears in both films, and Elizabeth Russell, who plays Mimi, the dying woman, in this film, reappears (in the same clothes) as the unnamed "cat woman" (she also appears as a different character in "The Curse of the Cat People").

Some critics have suggested that it is in fact a sequel to "Cat People." This interpretation suggests that Judd was not killed, but only severely injured, when attacked by Irena-as-panther in "Cat People," and that a scene where Judd tells a poet who is fascinated with the suicidal Jacqueline that he once knew a beautiful and mysterious woman who became a raving lunatic is a reference to Irena.


* Kim Hunter as Mary Gibson
* Hugh Beaumont as Gregory Ward
* Tom Conway as Doctor Louis Judd
* Jean Brooks as Jacqueline Gibson
* Isabel Jewell as Frances Fallon
* Evelyn Brent as Natalie Cortez
* Erford Gage as Jason Hoag
* Elizabeth Russell as Mimi
* Lou Lubin as Irving August, private detective (uncredited)
*Marguerite Sylva as Mrs. Bella Romari (uncredited)

Cast notes
*"The Seventh Victim" was Kim Hunter's first film.
*Elizabeth Russell, the sister-in-law of Rosalind Russell, was a regular in films produced by Val Lewton, appearing in "Cat People" (fy|1942), its sequel "The Curse of the Cat People" (fy|1944), "The Seventh Victim" and "Youth Runs Wild" (fy|1944). She would also appear later in Lewton's "Bedlam" (fy|1946). [imdb name|0751131|Elizabeth Russell]
*Barbara Hale, who would later play the role of "Della Street", Perry Mason's trusted secretary, on the long-running TV series, has a bit part as a subway passenger. [imdb name|0354853|Barbara Hale]

Critical legacy

"The Seventh Victim" has been praised for the shadowy camera work by Musuraca, which prefigured much film noir imagery, including possibly the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960). (However, the shower murder scene was included in the original novel "Psycho" (1959) by Robert Bloch.)

The film was initially criticized in reviews for having too many characters and a storyline that doesn't always make sense. (According to the film's DVD commentary, scenes containing additional story lines, some that may have made the film clearer, were cut before the film's release.) Most controversially, the film resolves with the suicide of one of the main characters (contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the Production Code), and is possibly the only film score of the period to end in a minor key. The story goes that Lewton was warned not to make a film with a message, and he replied that this film "did" have a message: "Death is good."

The contrast between the innocent, feminine and domestically-oriented Mary (whose love of children is emphasized when she gets a job at a kindergarten) and the worldly, glamorous and doomed businesswoman Jacqueline can be read as implicitly anti-feminist.

Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has cited this as his favorite horror film. It is the only movie of that genre in his list of 100 favorite movies. []


A remake, along with several other '40s era RKO movies, is currently in the works. Production is expected to begin early 2009. [ [ Rotten Tomatoes, 2-04-2008] .]


External links

* [ "The Seventh Victim"] at The Val Lewton Script Collection
* [ "The Seventh Victim"] at Metamovie
* [ Dialogue from the movie]

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