Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edgar G. Ulmer|
|Produced by||Arthur S. Lyons|
|Screenplay by||Alvah Bessie
|Based on||the novel Prelude to Night
by Dayton Stoddart
|Music by||Werner Janssen|
|Edited by||Francis D. Lyon|
|Distributed by||Eagle-Lion Films|
Horace Vendig shows himself to the world as a rich philanthropist. In fact, the history of his rise from his unhappy broken home shows this to be far from the case. After being taken in by richer neighbors he started to exhibit an obsessive and selfish urge to make more and more money, loving and leaving women at will to further this end.
- Zachary Scott as Horace Vendig
- Louis Hayward as Vic Lambdin
- Diana Lynn as Martha / Mallory
- Sydney Greenstreet as Mansfield
- Lucille Bremer as Christa Mansfield
- Martha Vickers as Susan Duane
- Dennis Hoey as Mr. Burnside
- Edith Barrett as Mrs. Burnside
- Raymond Burr as Peter Vendig
When the film was released, the staff at Variety magazine panned the film, writing, "Despite a sextet of name players, Ruthless is a victim of cliched and outmoded direction and of weary dialog to which no actor could do justice. Performances are handicapped by the direction of Edgar G. Ulmer. Adaptation from the Dayton Stoddart novel, Prelude to Night, is involved and confusing. Plot’s denouement is also telegraphed long before the finale. Hayward contribs a fair interpretation of Scott’s associate, who eventually breaks from him. Diana Lynn, in a dual role, is wistful and appealing as a pawn in Scott’s affections. Sydney Greenstreet, cast as a utilities magnate who’s ousted by Scott, tends to overact."
More recently, film critic Glenn Erickson gave the film a positive review, writing, "Financed as a one-shot project by an agent-turned producer, Ruthless plays its quietly subversive theme right out to the bitter end. It has excellent performances by a cast of not-quite big stars, some of them recently relieved of studio contracts. Its main player is the biggest surprise: Zachary Scott gives the performance of his career ... Ruthless is the Edgar G. Ulmer picture that shows him operating with a decent set of cinematic Tinkertoys, and he does very well indeed."
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