Ruthless (film)

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Ruthless poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Produced by Arthur S. Lyons
Screenplay by Alvah Bessie
S.K. Lauren
Gordon Kahn
Based on the novel Prelude to Night
by Dayton Stoddart
Starring Zachary Scott
Louis Hayward
Diana Lynn
Sydney Greenstreet
Music by Werner Janssen
Cinematography Bert Glennon
Edited by Francis D. Lyon
Producing Artists
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films
Release date
  • April 16, 1948 (1948-04-16) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Ruthless is a 1948 American film noir drama film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring Zachary Scott, Sydney Greenstreet and Louis Hayward.[1]


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.



Critical response[edit]

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."[2]

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."[3]


  1. ^ Ruthless at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. ^ Variety, film review, 1947. Accessed: July 11, 2013.
  3. ^ Erickson, Glenn. DVD Savant, film and DVD review, April 22, 2013. Accessed: July 11, 2013.

External links[edit]