The Raven (1963)

I have Edgar Allen Poe on my mind because we visited The Poe Museum in Richmond. It’s a cool museum in a compound of Poe-related buildings. I saw a poster for this movie in one of the display rooms, which led to a rewatching and this post.

The full title of this 1963 film is Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven but it’s inspired by that 6000 word narrative poem, not based on it. In fact, the movie is inspired nonsense, it’s a comedy with horror overtones. Vincent Price is an underrated comedic actor and displays his comedy chops in The Raven.

Peter Lorre’s character was transformed into a raven by Boris Karloff. The movie begins with Price helping Lorre regain his human form. They eventually set forth on a quest to defang their fellow magician. I forgot to mention they’re all magicians, which leads to a largely sedentary duel at the end of the movie that includes much literal finger pointing by Karloff and Price. I am not making this up; neither did Poe.

Lorre’s son is played by the young Jack Nicholson. His voice is higher and his hat was clearly sillier than the fedora he wore in Chinatown:

There are many big laughs in The Raven along with a few shocks, but it’s essentially a parody of horror movies just not as farcical as Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.

There *are* damsels in distress in the movie. Here’s Olivia Sturgess with Jack, Boris, and Vinnie:

I’m such a big Price fan that I always call him Vinnie. His nearest and dearest called him that so why not me?

The acting is hammy and over the top: what else would you expect from Price, Lorre, and Karloff?

The movie is directed by Roger Corman and has a script by Richard Matheson. The score by Les Baxter is perhaps the best thing about the movie. It’s quirky and eclectic; perfect for this quirky movie. Well done, sir.

Grading Time: I give The Raven 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B.

It’s poster time. We begin with the quad:

Next up, a side-by-side image of the 1963 poster next to a 1935 take on The Raven that also starred Karloff:

Is that time again. Follow the dancing refreshments to the lobby.

I have to skip my “color lobby cards for a black and white movie” jokes this week. The movie is in color, so are the lobby cards.

It’s trailer time:

The last word goes to a clip from The Raven featuring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre as the voice of the black bird.