Before the Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979), there was Dementia 13, Francis Ford Coppola's fifth major film which he both wrote and directed. The film was also produced by the legendary Roger Corman. Dementia 13 is a delightful thriller that hints at the cinematic genius Coppola would become. The script is well written and keeps the viewer guessing as to what comes next. The film begins with a great rowboat scene where John Haloran suffers a fatal heart attack. His wife Louise realizes she won't receive any inheritance money since John died before his mother. So she forges a letter from John to convince the rest of the family he is still alive and flies to Ireland to meet the family and try to secure a share of Lady Holeran's money.
Dementia 13 is nicely filmed and Coppola continues to up the suspense and tension until it reaches a frenzied peak. His work in Dementia 13 reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock or Val Lewton. Each scene is carefully constructed and nothing is wasted or superfluous. Acting is solid all around with everyone contributing something to the film's success.
Dementia 13 is available to watch online or download for free through Archive.org. The digital copy looks really great on an ipod. If you're a Coppola fan, this film is a must-see. If you're not it still stands as a well done and enjoyable thriller.
Rating: Very Good.
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.