The horrors, both physical and mental, of venereal disease are the subject of Edgar G. Ulmer's lesson in hygiene, Damaged Lives. A rich young man catches syphilis and passes it onto his wife as the result of a wanton night on the town with a rich floozy. Far more mature than other VD exploitation films of the day, Damaged Lives uses its examination of sordid sexual situations amid palatial art deco splendor to examine a careless society unresponsive to the inherent dangers of unprotected sexual intercourse.
After years of neglect, Edgar G. Ulmer is quickly being recognized as one of the most important figures in the first half century of filmmaking. The first director to pair Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff on screen (in Universal's The Black Cat), Ulmer redefined nearly every genre with his dazzling visual poetry (including his famous pans and tracking shots) and by ingraining astute, complex and ambiguous psychological insights into even the most obvious pulp material.