“Did you ever hear anyone scream while they hanged themselves?”
At the La Salle Detention Home for Girls some strange things have been happening. The home is a minimum security prison for young women. But it’s not the inmates that are the problem. In the last couple of years there have been some deaths at the home. Too many. Eleven young women have died of heart failure.
The home is run by Dr. Murdock (Victor Jory). Working with him are Dr. Freneau (George Lynn), Mrs. Ford (Ann Doran), Dr. Myer (Victor Varconi), Murdock’s personal servant Eric (Friedrich von Ledebur) and Cooper (Paul Cavanagh).
The last death was a young woman named Anna Sherman (Barbara Wilson) who reportedly hanged herself. The girl’s guidance counselor Carol Adams (Charlotte Austin) hears from some of the girls that she was not suicidal. There is an inquest. Carol brings up her concerns but without any proof that something is hinky she is ignored. At the inquest is a corrections appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Jess Rogers (William Hudson). He decides to investigate Carol’s claims that something is not right at the home.
His investigation breaks open a dark secret that has lasted for 200 years. In the 1780’s a group of doctors discovered a process that would extend their life. The procedure transfers the life energy from one person to another. During the process the donor dies.
Another problem is that the procedure only lasts for a specific period of time. Without continued transfusions of life energy they will begin to petrify. They will turn to stone. And the time between transfusions is getting shorter. They’ve learned that the best subjects as donors are young girls. What better way to get a ready supply of subjects than a girls’ prison.
“The Man Who Turned to Stone” was released in 1957 and was directed by Laszlo Kardos. It’s a rather decent little “B” movie. It’s not wonderful and there certainly are some plot holes but all in all an interesting concept. Usually mad scientists are focused on glands or radioactive isotopes. And you usually have just one mad scientist. Here you have a bunch. Granted the ‘live forever’ concept isn’t new, but the turn to a rock part is rather innovative.
The name of the movie is not totally correct since more than one person can turn to stone, but calling it the men and possibly one woman that turn to stone doesn’t have as much of a ring to it. The pace is a little slow in spots and the ending was unmemorable but it’s not overly long. It’s OK.
The movie was written by Bernard Gordon. For a good chunk of his career he worked in obscurity having been black listed for being a member of the communist party. He used Raymond T. Marcus as his pseudonym. He was born in New Britain, CT and was the son of Jewish Russian immigrants. Sam Katzman, who produced “The Man Who Turned To Stone” and Charles Schneer often hired Gordon under-the-table. He also helped found the Screen Reader’s Guild.