1761: St Mary of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam) in London. Run by a sadistic tyrant Master George Sims, Apothecary General (Karloff), whose eloquence belies his underlying sinister motives. In theatrical dialogue the plot unfolds. Well-fed, stout Lord Mortimer (Billy House) is a benefactor of the asylum mainly to entertain 'friends' for tuppence atime to show the caged loonies. His spirited companion Nell Bowen (Anna Lee) realises Sims for the contemptuous and evil man he is. She pays her entrance fee and is visibly appalled to see for herself the inmate conditions. Sims explains the situation as if he genuinely believes he is providing a service to the committed,albeit a business, with a humble twisted humour to achieve his ends. (Reminescent of Dickens's Uriah Heep). "Our's is a human world, their's is a bestial world' he says. Nell already has expressed her air of opinion of Sims 'with stench in the nostrils' and seeks to remedy the situation with the help of Quaker stonemason Hannay (Richard Fraser).
The resulting proceedings are not according to the plans of the salvationists. Bedlamite inmate degrading plays, Sim's awareness of threat from Nell to his authority and dictatorship lead to a coniving, wickedly contrived operation resulting in the internment of innocent Nell. Good versus evil theme as expected. Who will prevail?
Excellent performances from Anna Lee, Boris Karloff and pompous Billy House. Well-written with witty dialogue and production from Val Lewton. Boris Karloff at his most diabolic, evil,devious and horrible best. Reflections from the film since its production give incite into other apparent miscarriages of humanity. Highly recommended.