Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
aka The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Director George King Writer Frederick Hayward
Cast Tod Slaughter (Sweeney Todd), Stella
Tonight we visit Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. For those one or two of you expecting the recent version, I'm sorry to say there's no Johnny Depp and THANKFULLY no Helena Bonham Carter, no Tim Burton visuals, and not one single musical number. Instead we give you Tod Slaughter's 1936 adaptation - BLOOD and THUNDER, madness, greed, murder and a hint of cannibalism.
It's the second Tod Slaughter film we've brought you on Schlock Treatment, and for the forgotten anti-hero of British pre-war horrors, it's one of his most fondly remembered. An ageing
Slaughter as demon barber Sweeney Todd prowls around
The stagebound film version of Sweeney Todd deviates very little from the play that had done the rounds of Victorian stalls since in the mid Nineteenth Century, and that includes Slaughter in the title role. It's clear Slaughter is relishing every moment playing his beloved Sweeney with his broad grins and grimaces, sinister brow-arching, cackling and sideways glances to the camera standing in for his audience, all gloriously intact. It's a wonder he didn't trade in the theatre schtick for a film career sooner, as he possesses all the trappings of a silent movie villain minus the top hat and twirly mustache. It was indeed a limited box of tricks, and was ultimately Slaughter's downfall once he's exhausted his stage repertoire; his post-war career was patchy to non-existent, and he died penniless and forgotten in 1956.
Thankfully film IS forever – not every film of course, but Slaughter's back catalogue is still with us and ripe for the plucking. Here's to you, you sozzled limelight hog, as you tread the boards once more in Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street. And now Inspector – arrest that woman for being deliciously filling! Take that man away for making a dishonest crust!