Ben Hecht, to say the least, has done the expected by coming up with the unusual. Specter of the Rose was obviously a conscious attempt by Hecht to prove on how small a budget he could produce an acceptable picture. Reports are that it cost in the neighborhood of $160,000. The serious defect productionwise is a general lack of polish that is at times disturbing.
Yarn concerns a ballet troupe in which the top male dancer has gone berserk. Okay mentally for periods, he at times has hallucinations in which he hears music which forces him to dance the ballet Spectre de la Rose and, while terpin, he gets a desire to slit his wife’s throat.
This he has already done to one wife when the picture opens. One of the ballerinas is nevertheless in love with him and is sure she can cure him. She marries him, his mind remains clear and the ballet goes on. But, as is expected, the hallucinations suddenly return.
All this is against a serio-comic and satirical background of the ballet company’s travails, financial and otherwise in staging a tour. Judith Anderson is the troupe’s mentor, Michael Chekhov the comic impresario, and two actual ballet dancers, Ivan Kirov and Viola Essen, the boy and girl. Stander is a Greenwich Village poet who seems to be in the film for no other reason than to mouth Hechtisms.
Hecht’s direction and dialog give the acting a stylized artificiality that grows on the spectator as the picture progresses. Satire of the characterizations makes many of the film’s people virtually caricatures.