IN THE SHADOWS: LIONEL ATWILL

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Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) confronts Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), arguably Atwill's finest role.

Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) prepares to tell Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) how the Monster tore his arm off when he was a child, in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939), arguably Atwill’s finest role.

In The Shadows: LIONEL ATWILL

By Michael Arruda

Today In The Shadows, the column where we honor character actors from the movies, especially horror movies, we look at the career of Lionel Atwill, who divided his career between playing scary people and police inspectors in the Universal monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s.

He began his career as a leading man, appearing in the lead role in such films as MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1932), MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) and THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) before being relegated to smaller roles in the Universal monster movies, usually as a police inspector.

He became typecast as a police inspector because of his terrific performance in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) where he played Inspector Krogh, and it’s one of his all-time best performances. Interestingly enough it wasn’t the first time he played a police inspector in a horror movie, as he played Inspector Neumann in MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935).

His performance as Inspector Krogh in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is my favorite Lionel Atwill performance. Krogh suspects Baron Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) has secretly brought his father’s creation, the Monster (Boris Karloff) back to life, putting both his family and the entire village in danger. Krogh spends the entire movie trying to prove this while protecting those under his watch in the process.

And Krogh has extra motivation, since as a young boy, he had his arm torn from his body by the Monster. Yes, he’s the one-armed Inspector, famously spoofed by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974). But there are no laughs here, as Atwill is as serious and focused as a Police Inspector can be. It’s a solid powerful performance, most likely Atwill’s best.

Atwill’s career was derailed by a sex scandal in which he was accused of hosting an orgy at his home, and there was a rape charge as well. His career never recovered, and he was shunned by the major film studios afterwards. He died in 1946 at the age of 61.

Here is a partial list of Lionel Atwill’s 75 movie credits, concentrating mostly on his appearances in horror movies from the 1930s and 1940s:

DOCTOR X (1932) – The lead baddie, the demented Doctor Jerry Xavier.

THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) – Dr. Otto von Niemann – again an evil doctor, this time experimenting with vampire bats.

MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933) – Ivan Igor – terrorizes Fay Wray in a role made famous twenty years later when Vincent Price starred in the 3D remake HOUSE OF WAX (1953).

MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) – Eric Gorman – another evil scientist, this time mixed up with deadly zoo animals.

MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935) – Inspector Neumann – plays a police inspector opposite Bela Lugosi’s vampire, Count Mora, in this atmospheric remake of Lon Chaney’s silent classic LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927), both versions, incidentally, directed by DRACULA director Tod Browning.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) – Inspector Krogh- Atwill’s signature role, the relentless incorruptible Inspector Krogh, who matches wits with Baron Wolf Frankenstein and eventually tangles with the Monster (Boris Karloff).

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1939) – Dr. James Mortimer – Doctor who hires Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes to take on the Baskerville case.

MAN MADE MONSTER (1941) – Dr. Paul Rigas. Back in the mad scientist seat, this time zapping Lon Chaney Jr. with electricity and turning him into a monster.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942) – Rawitch – Part of the ensemble cast in this classic Ernst Lubitsch comedy starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) – Doctor Theodore Bohmer – Atwill’s second of five appearances in the Universal Frankenstein series. Here he plays Dr. Bohmer, a mad scientist who transplants Ygor’s (Bela Lugosi) brain into the body of the Monster (Lon Chaney, Jr.)

PARDON MY SARONG (1942) – Dr. Varnoff – messing around with Abbott and Costello.

NIGHT MONSTER (1942) – Dr. King – another disreputable doctor, in this murder mystery/horror movie co-starring Bela Lugosi.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET WEAPON (1942) – Professor Moriarty – matching wits with Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes.

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943) – Mayor – received a promotion in this one, as rather than playing a police inspector, Atwill is Mayor of Vasaria.

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) – Inspector Arnz – back to being a police inspector again.

HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945) – Inspector Holtz – yet another police inspector in a Universal monster movie. Atwill would die before the next film in the series, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948).

And there you have it. A brief look at some of Lionel Atwill’s memorable film performances.

Lionel Atwill: March 1, 1885 – April 22, 1946

Thanks for reading everybody!

—Michael

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THE HORROR JAR: UNIVERSAL FRANKENSTEIN Series

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Boris Karloff in the role that made him famous, the Frankenstein Monster.

Boris Karloff in the role that made him famous, the Frankenstein Monster.

THE HORROR JAR: UNIVERSAL FRANKENSTEIN Series

By Michael Arruda

Welcome back to THE HORROR JAR, your home for lists of odds and ends about horror movies.

Up today, a list of the UNIVERSAL FRANKENSTEIN movies, the Frankenstein films from Universal Studios that made Boris Karloff famous and created a cultural icon with its flat-headed bolts-in-the-neck Monster.

FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
The Monster: Boris Karloff
Henry Frankenstein: Colin Clive
Fritz: Dwight Frye
Directed by James Whale
Screenplay by Garrett Fort and Francis Edward Faragoh
Music by Bernhard Kaun (uncredited)
Running Time: 70 minutes

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
The Monster: Boris Karloff
Henry Frankenstein: Colin Clive
The Bride: Elsa Lanchester
Dr. Pretorious: Ernest Thesiger
Directed by James Whale
Screenplay by William Hurlbut
Music by Franz Waxman
Running Time: 75 minutes

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)
The Monster: Boris Karloff
Baron Wolf von Frankenstein: Basil Rathbone
Ygor: Bela Lugosi
Inspector Krogh: Lionel Atwill
Directed by Rowland V. Lee
Screenplay by Wyllis Cooper
Music by Frank Skinner
Running Time: 99 minutes

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942)
The Monster: Lon Chaney Jr.
Ludwig Frankenstein: Sir Cedric Hardwicke
Ygor: Bela Lugosi
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Screenplay by Scott Darling
Music by Hans J. Salter
Running Time: 67 minutes

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)
The Monster: Bela Lugosi
Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man: Lon Chaney Jr.
Baroness Elsa Frankenstein: Ilona Massey
Maleva: Maria Ouspenskaya
Directed by Roy William Neill
Screenplay by Curt Siodmark
Music by Hans J. Salter
Running Time: 74 minutes

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)
The Monster: Glenn Strange
Doctor Niemann: Boris Karloff
Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man: Lon Chaney Jr.
Dracula: John Carradine
Daniel: J. Carrol Naish
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, Jr.
Music by Hans J. Salter
Running Time: 71 minutes

HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)
The Monster: Glenn Strange
Doctor Edelmann: Onslow Stevens
Dracula: John Carradine
Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man: Lon Chaney Jr.
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, Jr
Music by William Lava
Running Time: 67 minutes

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)
The Monster: Glenn Strange
Chick: Bud Abbott
Wilbur: Lou Costello
Dracula: Bela Lugosi
Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man: Lon Chaney Jr.
Directed by Charles Barton
Screenplay by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant
Music by Frank Skinner
Running Time: 83 minutes

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: ABBOTT and COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

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Bud Abbott and Lou Costello have a lot to say about the Frankenstein monster, the Wolf Man, and Dracula in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello have a lot to say about the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange), the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.), and Dracula (Bela Lugosi) in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

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Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at great quotes from some really great movies. Today we look at ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), one of the funniest horror comedies ever made.  It’s chock full of classic lines.

It’s actually one of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s funniest films.  While the monsters— Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, and Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein monster— play it straight, Bud and Lou tickle your funny bone, and they’ve rarely been funnier.

So let’s check out some of their jokes.  Here’s a look at some memorable quotes from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, screenplay by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant.  All three of these writers had a ton of writing credits, including many other Abbott and Costello movies, so it’s no wonder that this film is so funny.

Here we go:

After being pursued by Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and his vampire assistant Sandra (Lenore Aubert), Wilbur (Lou Costello) has had his fill of vampires out to get him.  When he asks his buddy Chick (Bud Abbott) a question, Chick replies:

CHICK:  I’ll bite.

WILBUR:  No, you gotta stand in line.

In addition to being chased by Sandra, Wilbur is also pursued by another woman, Joan (Jane Randolph).  In fact, women seem to be falling all over Wilbur in this movie, something that Chick just can’t seem to understand.

CHICK:  I don’t get it. Out of all the guys around here that classy dish has to pick out a guy like you.

WILBUR:  What’s wrong with that?

CHICK:  Go look at yourself in the mirror sometime.

WILBUR:  Why should I hurt my own feelings?

Later, when Wilbur has two dates to the costume ball, Chick tries to talk him into sharing one of his dates with him.

CHICK:   You know the old saying? Everything comes in threes. Now suppose a third girl should fall in love with you?

WILBUR:  What’s her name?

CHICK: We’ll say her name is Mary.

WILBUR: Is she pretty?

CHICK: Beautiful!

WILBUR: Naturally, she’d have to be.

CHICK: Now you have Mary, you have Joan, and you have Sandra. So, to prove to you that I’m your pal, your bosom friend, I’ll take one of the girls off your hands.

WILBUR: Chick, you’re what I call a real pal… you take Mary.

This next exchange comes when Wilbur is arguing with his employer, Mr. McDougal.

WILBUR:  Well that’s gonna cost you overtime because I’m a union man and I work only sixteen hours a day.

MCDOUGAL:  A union man only works eight hours a day.

WILBUR:  I belong to two unions.

Then there’s this conversation when Chick tries to convince the frightened Wilbur that Dracula doesn’t really exist.

WILBUR:  (reading):  “Count Dracula sleeps in his coffin but rises every night at sunset.”  Chick is right.  This is awful silly stuff.  Dracula— (coffin creaks).  Chick!  Chick!

CHICK:  What’s the matter now?

WILBUR:  You know that person you said that there’s no such person?

CHICK:  Yes.

WILBUR:  I think he’s in there.  In person.  I was reading this sign over here, this one down here, Dracula’s legend.  All of a sudden I hear (makes a creaking sound).

CHICK:  That’s the wind!

WILBUR:  It should get oiled!

CHICK:  Listen, stop reading this thing!  That’s a lot of phony baloney to fool McDougal’s customers!  Now pull up that canvas and get busy.  Come on!  (Exits)

WILBUR (reading):  “Dracula can change himself at will into a vampire bat flying about the countryside.”  Flying.  (Pretends to fly and sees Dracula attempting to climb out of his coffin).  Chick!!!  Chick!!!

CHICK (returns):  Listen.  You’re making enough noise to wake up the dead.

WILBUR:  I don’t have to wake him up.  He’s up.  I saw a hand.

CHICK:  You saw a hand?  Where?

WILBUR:  Right over there.  (points to coffin).  I saw a hand there!

CHICK:  You don’t know what you’re talking about!  You’re all excited reading this legend.  Now, listen.  Listen, Wilbur.  I know there’s no such a person as Dracula. You know there’s no such a person as Dracula.

WILBUR:  But does Dracula know it?

The monsters get in on the action as well.  Here’s one of my favorite lines from the movie, when Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) tries to warn Wilbur and Chick about his condition, that he’s a werewolf.

LARRY TALBOT:  You don’t understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.

WILBUR:  You and twenty million other guys.

And then there’s this memorable line from Dracula (Bela Lugosi):

DRACULA:  Young people making the most of life – while it lasts.

Gulp!

Of course this line is even more effective because Bela Lugosi is saying it.  Incidentally, this is the second and last time Lugosi played Dracula in the movies, although he did play a vampire— just not Dracula— in other films.

Okay.  That’s it for now.  I hope you enjoyed these memorable lines of dialogue from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN.  I’ll see you next time with another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES.

—Michael