Laird Cregar stars in this 1945 adaption of the neglected English writer Patrick Hamilton's novel of the same name. The more politically anti-fascist nature of the book is traded for the diverse score by Bernard Hermann, who wrote the mix of classical and popular music for which this movie is remembered, especially as a main inspiration for Sweeney Todd.
Cregar is a successful classical music composer who goes all Mr. Hyde whenever he hears a "discordant note," which you think would happen more often in the middle of London. His murderous tendencies, which he doesn't remember, are apparently due to overwork, so he goes to popular music halls on his offnights, only to be seduced by a beautiful hack who uses his musical talents to further her own singing career. Cregar said he ate only two slices of bacon and toast a day while filming Hangover Square, so you can watch his waistline recede throughout the movie as his character descends into madness. The final scene has some impressive special effects for the '40s, and the intense depiction of Guy Fawkes Night is all that remains of the political message of the novel. —Reid Kurkerewicz