Strangler of the Swamp

Year Of Release: 1946
Running Time: 58 Minutes
DVD Released By: Image Entertainment
Directed By: Frank Wisbar
Writing Credits: Harold Erickson, Leo J. McCarthy, Frank Wisbar
Filming Location: Unknown

Starring: Rosemary LaPlanche, Robert Barrat, Blake Edwards, Charles Middleton, Effie Parnell, Nolan Leary, Frank Conlan, Therese Lyon, Virginia Farmer, Chris Drake

Tagline 1: He was hanged for a crime he didn't commit, and now he's the... [Strangler of the Swamp]

Tagline 2: Terror Stalks the Bayou!

Alternate Titles:
I was unable to locate any alternate titles for this film.

Interesting Bits of Trivia:
Most people think of Blake Edwards as a writer and director, but between 1942 and 1948 he actually appeared in twenty four different films in various roles. Charles Middleton, best known for his role as Emperor Ming in all three original Flash Gordon serials, had a long and prolific career which spanned from 1920 through 1949 and included no less than 194 films. Rosemary LaPlanche was actually a beauty queen. She was crowned Miss California in 1940 and in 1941, and was crowned Miss America in 1941 as well. The same year that Strangler of the Swamp was made, she also starred in The Devil Bat's Daughter, which turned out to be one of her best known films.

Rogue Reviewers Round Table Review: August 2003
Review Topic: "Before They Were Stars - Blake Edwards"

Cast Of Characters
Maria Hart: Maria's a good kid who's heart's in the right place. She's pretty too, which leads me to wonder just why she was living in a swamp and running her deceased grandfather's ferry boat. I totally expected her to be a worthless annoying dunce, but she was so much more than that. She was irritating too. No I'm just being silly. She's a nice girl who helps out and doesn't do too awful many things, which makes her pretty atypical from other B-girls of this era. Oh, and did I mention she's easy? Christian only knew her a month before he proposed to her and she accepted right away. I think if I was Christian, I'd be kinda wondering how many other guys she had said yes to.

Christian Sanders Jr.: Yes folks, for those of you who've never actually seen him, this the Blake Edwards. Now I know what you're thinkin'. You're thinkin', "Whoopie!!!" Yeah, too. In this film, he's the son of a guy with the same name as him, which is a stupid thing to do when you're writing a film since all it does is confuse people. Anyway, he's a good and honorable kinda guy. He's certainly more honorable than his father who's more of a pain in the butt than anything else. Apparently he falls in love real easy too since he was hitting on Maria within the first thirty seconds after he met her, and then proposed to her a month later. That's not even long enough to find out how hideous she looks in the morning with the curlers in her hair and the green cucumber facial mask. I mean, one look at that and he may just prefer the strangler after all.

Christian Sanders Sr. : This guy doesn't believe nothin'. Every time someone sees something in the swamp or ends up strangled in some horrific way, he's got an explanation for it. He's like the town big shot and a really snazzy dresser as well. Just look at that spiffy tie! What fashion sense. What a marvelous sense of style. What the hell have I been smokin'? Oh god, the Christina Aguilera monsters are comin' to get me! No mom really, I wasn't doing anything in the bathroom! I don't know why the seat is sticky! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Ferryman Douglas (The Strangler): This is the spirit of the guy who was wrongfully convicted of murder and hanged by the people of the town. Now I don't know about you, but if that happened to me I'd be pretty ticked off too. And judging by how annoying some of the people in this town are, I'm surprised he didn't kill them while he was alive. I mean, if you're gonna get hanged for murder anyway, you might as well take a few morons with you.

Martina Sanders: Thump thump thump...thump thump thump...thump your bible. KC and the Sunshine Band would be proud. This is Martina. Sorry about the crappy screenshot, but due to the lack of good quality face shots in this movie, this is about the best I could do. She's Christian's wife, and she's pretty religious too. In fact, when Christian comes up with the idea to take the money the town had been saving to build a church and use it to drain the swamps instead so that the town and it's people could have access to more rich and fertile farmlands and actually maybe find some prosperity for a change, Martina and the other old hens in town just about have a fit. She's totally into the whole strangler thing and tries to convince her husband that it's real, but he never believes her until it's too late.

Pete Jeffers: You know what I think of when I look at this screenshot? I see a thought balloon over this guy's head that says, "Gee my fingernails taste good today." This is Pete and he's a total dork. Not only does he have a distinct inability to put his hat on straight, but he does nothing but whine about the strangler and how it's coming to get them constantly in just about every scene he's in. I do have to give him credit for one thing though. He at least had brains enough to get the hell out of town before the strangler got him. He packed up all his crap in a wagon, threw his wife up on top of the pile, and headed for the hills.

Joseph Hart: This is the schmoe that caused all this trouble in the first place. He's the guy that committed the murder and then blamed ferryman Douglas for it and got him hanged. Fortunately for all of us, the strangler got him before he had a chance to become overly annoying.

Screen Shots

"Heya sailor. Fancy a romp? I charge two bob for a quick tumble or ten shillings for a trip around the world. If you want anything kinky it'll cost you extra."

"You want us to do what for five bucks???"

Looks like that randy ol' cheapskate Joseph ended up pulling his own rope that night.

"Oh Chris, you're such a manly man. Take me in your arms and we'll get washed away on a swampy tidal wave of passion."

"Well gee Maria, that would be swell. Say, I know we haven't like dated or anything, but what say you and I get married?"

"Oh Chris!"

*kiss* *smooch* *hug* *FARRRRRRRT*

"Whoa Chris, did you hear that? It must have been the strangler!"

"Uh, yeah right, the strangler. Whoa look at the time. I gotta run. See ya!"

"Maria darling. As long as we're getting married, there's something you should know about me. This one time, at band camp, I took my flute and shoved it all the way into my..."



Best Quotes

"I didn't tell her the whole truth about the death of her grandfather because I wanted to soften the shock. All I ask of you and your women is to keep quiet. I'll tell her the truth when the time comes."

- Christian speaking to a small group of the local men folk at a meeting in his living room. - (Reviewer's Note: Now, I don't know what this guy's been smokin', but if he thinks there's actually a way to keep women quiet about anything, then he's living in a fantasy world.)

Video Clip
When prompted, enter bmovie for the username and central for the password.

Strangler of the Swamp
Maria is running around town trying to get someone's attention so they can help her save Christian, but the Strangler blocks her at every turn. Look for the hilarious running in place scene in this clip.

Summary and Conclusion

Um, let me start by saying that this was the longest 58 minute movie I've ever seen. I don't know why but this movie felt more like it was 3 hours long instead of 58 minutes. I feel kinda bad because this review was supposed to be done for the August Rogue's Roundtable and I was having a major slump at that point and never got it done. Then, with the death of the beloved Bob Hope, my review for The Ghost Breakers became a priority for me. Now that I've seen this movie, I see that I wasn't really missing all that much by putting it off.

The first thing I want to mention is the very poor quality of this DVD. I want to get that out of the way first because it was really causing me problems when I was trying to get decent screenshots and such. I mean, you can tell by the poor quality of some of the character shots what a hard time I was having getting pictures of these people. The video on this DVD is completely over compressed and certainly not what you'd expect to see from an Image Entertainment DVD. If you capture a still frame and brighten it up, you can see the compression lines and marks all over the image. I would show you an example of what I'm talking about, but I'd have to leave the image full size for you to see it properly and I don't want to stick an image in here that's that big. In any case, this was a very unprofessional mastering job by Image and they should be ashamed for even releasing a product like this.

Now to be fair here, you can't see the compression lines unless you really brighten the picture, so under normal circumstances, the picture would look normal and you probably wouldn't notice anything wrong. There's another problem with this film in the visual sense as well. It's dark, which is about what you'd expect in a swamp I guess, but it seemed like it was never day in this movie. Every scene I can think of looked like it took place at night or in the late afternoon. The sound wasn't all that great either. It was a little muddy and it didn't seem like they spent much if any time at all cleaning it up for this DVD release. Now that's not to say it has the worst sound in the world, but with all the technology these companies have at their disposal when they're doing the digital mastering, you'd think they could have spent a little more time to get a quality product out there.

Now on to the movie itself. The movie looks like it was shot on one big set and that's it. There's a few scenes in a house, a bunch of swamp scenes, and some scenes inside another house. The only location shooting it looks like they did for this film was when Pete Jeffers was leaving town with his wife and all their stuff loaded onto a wagon, and when Maria was running down the road outside. Other than that, the entire thing was shot on a sound stage. This in and of itself isn't all that much of a detriment to the overall look and feel of the film, but I just kinda felt like none of it was real when I was watching it. There was always this feeling that if you looked up or if they would just turn the lights up a bit that you'd see the celing and the rafters instead of an evening sky. I guess the best way to describe it is that the whole thing just had kind of a closed in feeling.

The story itself followed along a pretty standard plot line. Ferryman Douglas was wrongfully accused of murdering a local farmer. He was tried, convicted and hanged by the local townspeople. His spirit returns to see out revenge against those who killed him. People start dying in the swamps, always in some sort of a way that left them strangled, whether it be hanged, tangled up in swamp weeds and branches, or whatever. Joseph Hart was the one who really killed the farmer, and he took over the ferry after ferryman Douglas was executed. The strangler gets his revenge upon Joseph just three days before his granddaughter Maria comes home to the swamp. When she finds out about his death, she takes over the ferry business. Soon after, she meets the Mayor's son Christian and they fall in love. Unfortunately, Christian, his father, and everyone else who had been involved in convicting Douglas were on the stranglers hit list. It all comes to a head when the strangler attempts to kill Chris and Chris's father and Maria manage to get him to an old ruined church where the strangler can not enter. There's no real escape for them, so Maria decides to give her life willingly to the strangler in exchange for sparing Christian's life and giving up his quest for revenge. This selfless act of love and sacrifice causes the strangler to back away and give up on his quest.

So that's basically how the movie went. There were some really stupid things that happened in this movie, and I think probably one of the stupidest things is that toward the end when Christian was hanged by the strangler and then rescued by Maria not eight seconds later. I mean, literally he was only hanging in the noose for like eight seconds tops, and yet after she got him down, he was completely worthless. He acted like he had been beaten senseless by fifteen three-hundred pound women in a chinese buffet line. He was like that right through the end of the movie too. He never did help with anything after he got strung up. Now I know that guys can be babies when they're injured, but jeez, this guy took it to the extreme.

Overall, the acting in this movie wasn't bad and it's pretty much what you'd expect from a movie of this period. The one surprise I really got out of this movie is when I found out that Charles Middleton was playing the strangler. I don't know how anyone who's ever seen the Flash Gordon serials could ever think of Charles Middleton as anyone but the vile Emperor Ming. He actually talked to people in this film, so it wasn't like he just stood around looking ghostly the whole time. As I watched him act, I couldn't get the whole Emperor Ming thing out of my head. I mean, I really feel bad when people get typecast, but I couldn't help it. The funny thing is, Charles Middleton actually spent most of his career doing westerns and other types of "normal" films. Things like Flash Gordon and these types of movies only made up a very small part of his film career.

This roundtable is called Before They Were Stars, which made it very difficult for me to find an appropriate movie. I chose this one because Blake Edwards is a pretty recognizable figure in the world of cinema. He's directed about twice as many films as he's acted in, and is generally recognized as being a director. He appeared as an actor in twenty-four films, only a few of which you probably ever heard of. The crowning achievement of his career has been his Pink Panther series of movies starring the late Peter Sellers.

As far as a rating goes I'm not really sure how to rate it. Some of the acting was good, and some was not so good. The look of the film was ok but not awesome. The story was pretty standard and had no real surprises or plot twists at all. Despite all of the things that I just listed that should give the movie a two and a half bee rating, I'm finding now that looking back on it, it really wasn't that bad. It ended up overall being a little better than two and a half, so I'm going to kick it up a notch and give it...

B-Movie Central's Rating: 3 Bees

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