The Dark Tower (October 18, 1943)
Released on October 18, 1943: A European Circus struggles for success when a stranger with hypnotic powers joins them.
Directed by John Harlow
Written by Reginald Purdell and Brock Williams.
The Actors: Ben Lyon (Phil Danton), Anne Crawford (Mary), David Farrar (Tom Danton), Herbert Lorn (Stephen Torg), Frederick Burtwell (Willie Wainwright), William Hartnell (Jim Towers), Josephine Wilson (Dora Shogun), Elsie Wagstaff (Eve Wainwright), J.H. Roberts (Doctor Wilson), Aubrey Mallalieu (Doctor).
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You should have a stick of bright pink cotton candy to properly enjoy a circus thriller, but a bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn will have to do. Our movie opens at a British Curcus, and we see that it isn't doing very well financially. There are two brothers that own it, one is the business manager, and Tom his brother is a high-wire and trapeze artist. Tom Danton, the high wire trapeze artist, has a beautiful young lady assistant named Mary, who he is in love with. But this night they are out of money, and they tell the performers that the money they have got went to feed the animals, and there is none left for the performers. They tell the performers that they can get an i.o.u. for their money owed, and split up and go their own way, or they can continue with the circus in hopes that business will pick up. All of the performers are like family, and they quickly respond that they will stick with the circus, even if they cannot get paid.
Suddenly a person runs into the group and exclaims that one of the lions is loose, and everyone is in danger. The crowd runs over to where a lion tamer is trying to control the beast, without much success. Then a strange man walks up and talks the animal down. He seems to hypnotize the animal with his calm, quiet but commanding voice. He had tried to get a job at the circus a bit earlier, but was turned down. Now he is the savior of the hour, and the boss gets the great idea of using Torg and his hypnotic powers to spice up Mary's high-wire act. Before every performance Torg hypnotizes Mary so that she can perform her 'slide of death' on the tight wire without any balancing carousel in her hand. Audiences are amazed, and the circus quickly becomes very, very popular and prosperous. But the dark and mysterious Torg also falls in love with Mary, and he has the definate advantage for her love because he always has her in his hypnotic power. Push comes to shove, and one night Torg plants the hypnotic suggestion in Mary's head that she will drop Tom to his death instead of catching him on the high trapeze. Tom survives the drop, and the suspense and terror continue as Torg controls not only Mary but the continued success of the circus. The suspense and terror continue between Mary, Torg and Tom, until the blockbuster ending when one of the trio is murdered during a dangerous night at the circus. Who will get killed . . . who will survive . . .