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Bedlam is one of the costlier psychological-horror efforts from RKO producer Val (Curse of the Cat People) Lewton. Boris Karloff stars as the supervisor of the notorious 18th century British insane asylum St. Mary's of Bethlehem, better known as "Bedlam." Anna Lee, who co-stars as the feisty mistress of a fatuous government official, is appalled by the miserable treatment afforded the Bedlam inmates and insists that reforms be initiated. The crafty, politically connected Karloff responds by having Lee herself incarcerated in the institution: she is a "willful woman",… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Nicholas Musaraca's excellent cinematography contributes a number of fine effects, and there's a strange and witty aside on the invention of movies."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"A weak end to a great career [for producer Val Lewton], but not, in and of itself, a bad movie."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Another strong chiller from brilliant producer Val Lewton."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"A fine feature in the Val Lewton series for RKO is not so much a horror film, though it does contain one of Karloff's more deliciously sadistic performances."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
"Last gasp in the famed Lewton horrors. Frankly, pretty dull."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"While the film has a tendency to wander into unadulterated Hollywoodisms in spots, it is a generally straight-forward and imaginative estimate of a two-century-old sociological theme."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"Lewton had something to say. Perhaps inevitably, he found less interesting ways of saying it over the course of nine films in a short four years."
‑ Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"As a sociological tract it's right on the money, as a psychological thriller it wanders at times too far away from the money."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"One of Val Lewton's final films, this collaboration with Boris Karloff is also one of his most tragically underrated."
‑ Christopher Null,
"The film's single most resonant image -- that of the grasping arms of the Bedlam inmates straining to reach through the bars of their cells -- has inspired countless other movies."
‑ , Film4
"Robson's notably unpoetic direction doesn't help, either; yet few Hollywood films ever had such ambition."
‑ , Time Out
"The feminist-political fable is couched in absorbing grey zones"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Notable only for a nuanced performance by Boris Karloff."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"Creepy doings with Karloff amok in asylum."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
"Creepy, atmospheric, yet underrated Val Lewton thriller."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
More reviews for Bedlam on Rotten Tomatoes