Its photography is the most interesting thing about RKO's quite unoriginal "Experiment Perilous." Seeing things extremely realistically throughout, the camera in many spots has captured the flat, faded look of old daguerreotypes to give this period melodrama authentic flavor. The plot, based on a novel by Margaret Carpenter, and actually a direct steal from "Angel Street" ("Gaslight"), is, by its asked repetition, the picture's most salient fault.
The settings are excellent: this is the New York of the early century without the dependence on costume with which Hollywood is so often content. So many of these period pieces are in technicolor, with gala balls and sparkling lights. "Experiment Perlious emphasizes plush and bric-a-brac furnishings of the claustrophobic New York houses that graced the day and are in many cases still standing; in this respect it excels its cinematic model, "Gaslight."
That Hody Lamarr is the most beautiful woman in the world is a debatable point; she certainly is not the actress Ingrid Bergman was in the same part. Charles Boyer tried to drive Ingrid mad in "Gaslight" to gain her wealth. Similarly accented Paul Lukas tries to pull the same stunt in "Experiment Perilous," but with no apparent motive. Almost as a trick ending, it develops that a page has been substituted in this carbon copy: Lukas is mentally unsound, which doesn't really change much.
Like so many pictures, "Experiment Perilous" goes off the deep end in its last few hundred feet: hero George Brent (it was Joseph Cotton in MGM's "Gaslight) walks into a cloud-filled sky through a field of daisies with pretty Hedy coming too. This little anti-climax is preceded by a good deal of suspense, but it was better the first time. jgt.