Movie Lists: Gene Wilder

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Gene Wilder shrieking “Give my creation, life!” in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).

Welcome to another edition of MOVIE LISTS, the column where you’ll find lists of odds and ends about movies.  Today, we look at films starring Gene Wilder.

Wilder, who passed away on August 29, 2016, was one of the most popular comic actors on the planet between 1974-1982.  Here is a partial list of his film credits:

THE PRODUCERS (1967)- Leo Bloom- if you’ve seen this Mel Brooks comedy, you’ll remember Wilder as the neurotic producer who can’t handle it when the sure-fire flop he and co-producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) plan— a musical about Hitler— becomes a surprise hit.  Wilder at his unstable best.

START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME (1970) –  Claude/Philippe – Having fun with Donald Sutherland during the French Revolution.

WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971) – Willy Wonka – Wilder is excellent in the lead in this Roald Dahl fantasy.  I believe this is the first Gene Wilder movie I ever saw, although it’s not the movie that made me a fan.  That would happen with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (1972)- Doctor Ross.  Wilder is hilarious here as a man who falls in love with a sheep in this wacky yet uneven Woody Allen comedy.  I saw this years after it came out, probably in the early 1980s when I was in college.

BLAZING SADDLES (1974) – Jim – another Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks classic that I didn’t see until years after its release, again in the early 1980s.  I was only 10 in 1974, and BLAZING SADDLES was Rated R, which meant it was off limits to me.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)- Dr. Frederick Frankenstein – this one I did see shortly after it came out, as it was rated PG, and it’s the movie that made me a lifelong Gene Wilder fan.  So many amazing memorable moments in the movie, generated by Wilder and the entire cast, and of course writer/director Mel Brooks.  Among my favorite Wilder bits:  “You just made a yummy sound,” “Put the candle back,”   and “I thought I told you never to disturb me while I’m working!”  

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Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).  Hello, handsome!

THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER (1975)- Sigerson Holmes- Funny film, but tried too hard to follow the same formula as YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN with inferior results.  Wilder’s directorial debut.

SILVER STREAK (1976) – George- Wilder’s first pairing with Richard Pryor.  Probably my second favorite Gene Wilder movie behind YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN.

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Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder

THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVER (1977) -Rudy Hickman- Not one of my favorites.  This was the second film Wilder directed, after THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER. The jokes just aren’t as sharp this time around.

THE FRISCO KID (1979)- Avram-  This has always been one of my favorite Gene Wilder roles and movies.  Wilder plays a rabbi on an adventure in the wild west in this unlikely charmer by director Robert Aldrich.  Co-starring Harrison Ford.

STIR CRAZY (1980) – Skip Donahue – Wilder’s second pairing with Richard Pryor might be their funniest.  Directed by Sidney Poitier.

HANKY PANKY (1982) – Michael Jordon – Wilder co-stars with future wife Gilda Radner in this box office disaster originally written to feature both Wilder and Richard Pryor again.  Once more directed by Sidney Poitier.  Wilder considered this to be one of his worst movies.

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Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder

THE WOMAN IN RED (1984) – Teddy Pierce – Another one of my favorites.  Wilder becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman in red played by Kelly LeBrock in this amiable romantic comedy.  Co-starring Charles Grodin and Gilda Radner.  Wilder directed and co-wrote this remake of a French movie, which might be his best directorial effort.

HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1986) – Larry Abbot-  Wilder once more directs himself and wife Gilda Radner, in what would be both his final directorial effort and last movie that he and Radner made together.  Not surprisingly, this unfunny film bombed at the box office.

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL (1989) – Dave Lyons-  Wilder’s third pairing with Richard Pryor, directed by Arthur Hiller, who also directed Wilder’s/Pryor’s first pairing, SILVER STREAK.  Early film role for Kevin Spacey.

ANOTHER YOU (1991)- George/Abe Fielding – Wilder’s fourth and final movie with Richard Pryor.  This was also Wilder’s final theatrical release.  He would make four more movies, all of them made for TV.

Okay, there you have it, a partial list of the movies starring Gene Wilder.

Gene Wilder – June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016

Thanks for reading everybody, and I’ll see you again next time for another MOVIE LISTS column where we’ll look at more odds and ends from the movies.

—Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)

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Here’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, available now in the February 2016 edition of THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION, on the third Universal Frankenstein movie, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

It’s my 150th IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column.

Enjoy!

—Michael

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

By

Michael Arruda

Welcome to the 150th IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column!

To celebrate, let’s look at the Universal Monster classic, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is the third film in the Universal Frankenstein series.  It marked the third and final time that Boris Karloff would play the Monster, and while Karloff’s presence in this one is still key, really, the biggest reason to see this movie is to watch Bela Lugosi play Ygor, arguably his second best film role after Dracula.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN takes place several decades after the events of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has died, and his adult son Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) returns home to his father’s estate along with his wife and young son, after being away for many years.

Wolf and his family are given the cold shoulder by the villagers, who remain scarred by memories of the Monster.  In fact, the local police inspector, Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) even offers Frankenstein and his family protection from the villagers, an offer which the proud Wolf scoffs at.

While searching the ruins of his father’s laboratory, Wolf comes across old Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a man who had once been hung for the crime of stealing bodies but survived the hanging.  When Ygor learns that Wolf is a scientist like his father, he brings Wolf to an underground cave beneath the laboratory where he shows him the sleeping body of the Monster (Boris Karloff).

Intrigue, Wolf decides to bring his father’s creation back to full strength, which pleases Ygor, since he uses his “friend” the Monster to murder the members of the jury who had sent him to the gallows.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is the most elaborate of the Universal Frankenstein series and it’s also the lengthiest, clocking in at 99 minutes.  While it can be a bit talky, it does a terrific job developing its characters, as the three new characters in this film, Wolf Frankenstein, Inspector Krogh, and Ygor are among the series’ best.  It was originally going to be shot in color, but the decision was made to film it in black and white when initial screen tests of the Monster in color failed to impress.

While SON OF FRANKENSTEIN has a lot going for it, it’s nowhere near as good as the first two films in the series, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  That being said, it’s the one film in the series that is closest in style to the Hammer Frankenstein movies which were to follow twenty years later, as it spends more time on characterizations and less on the Monster, and it features opulent sets.

Even though director Rowland V. Lee does an admirable job at the helm, the film really misses the direction of James Whale, who directed the first two Frankenstein movies.  Those films were paced better and possessed a chaotic energy about them that really captured the persona of the Monster, and in both those films, Karloff’s performance as the Monster stole the show.

Here in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, Karloff turns in his least effective performance as the Monster, mostly because he doesn’t have much to do. For reasons that are not explained, the Monster in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN no longer speaks.    One can infer that he may have suffered further brain damage in the explosion at the end of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which could have taken away his ability to speak.  Whatever the reason, without speech the Monster is a far less interesting character than when we last saw him in BRIDE.

Also, the Monster becomes a “patient” in this movie, spending lots of time lying on a lab table waiting to be energized by Doctor Frankenstein.  Unfortunately, this trend would continue as the series went on, with the Monster spending more and more time reclining on his back, rather than  moving around terrorizing people.  It’s also established for the first time in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN that the Monster cannot die, that Henry Frankenstein created him in such a way that he would live forever.  This would make it convenient for Universal to keep bringing the Monster back in subsequent movies.

Karloff’s best scene as the Monster in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is when he meets Wolf Frankenstein for the first time.  As he gets right in Wolf’s face, easily terrifying the man, he seems to be thinking back to the man who created both of them, Wolf’s father, Henry Frankenstein.

Ygor and Monster

Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and the Monster (Boris Karloff) are up to no good in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

But again, the best part of this movie is Bela Lugosi’s performance as Ygor.  He steals nearly every scene he’s in.  My favorite bits include his coughing on a jury member in a courtroom scene, and his answer to Wolf when asked if he killed their butler Benson:  “I scare him to death.  I don’t need to kill him to death!”  And then he laughs.  Of course, he’s also lying since the Monster did murder Benson.

Basil Rathbone is adequate as Wolf Frankenstein, though he does tend to ham it up a bit.  I definitely miss Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein.  Of course, the writers went with the “son” story-line rather than another Henry Frankenstein tale because Clive had sadly passed away shortly after making THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  

Lionel Atwill also has one of his best roles here as Inspector Krogh, the one-armed inspector spoofed so effectively by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).  Krogh is a memorable character, with a great back story:  he has one arm because the Monster ripped it from its socket when he was a child.  Yikes!

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Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) prepares to tell Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) the story of his childhood encounter with the Monster.

The screenplay by Willis Cooper is definitely talky, but it does tell a good story and does a terrific job developing its characters.  SON OF FRANKENSTEIN also features arguably the best music score of the series, by Frank Skinner.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN  is a fine third film in the series, not as effective as the first two, but definitely better than the films which would follow it, and its cast, which features Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill is second to none.

The biggest of the Universal Frankenstein movies, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is a well-made and worthy installment in the Frankenstein canon.

SHOCK SCENES: IT’S ALIVE!!!!!

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SHOCK SCENES:  IT’S ALIVE!!!!! Frankenstein - 8mm

By Michael Arruda

Welcome back to SHOCK SCENES, the column where we look at memorable scenes in horror movie history.

We’re celebrating a birthday today.

Sort of.

Today we celebrate the birth— and rebirth— of the Frankenstein Monster in the Universal Frankenstein series.

We’ll be looking at the various creation scenes in the Universal Frankenstein movies.  Technically, the Monster was only created once, in the first film, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) but Henry Frankenstein did such a good job creating life that his Monster in spite of the best efforts of angry villagers and exploding castles and laboratories just couldn’t seem to die.  So, while the Monster would be “killed” at the end of each movie, he’d be “revived” in subsequent films.

In today’s SHOCK SCENES column, we’ll look at the Monster’s various turns in the laboratory and compare how they all stack up.

By far, the best creation scene was the first, in James Whale’s classic FRANKENSTEIN.  Who can forget Colin Clive shrieking “It’s alive!!” as he watches his creation come to life.  The lab equipment by Ken Strickfaden (later used again in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) with its flashing lights and zip-zapping electrical sounds was strictly for show and had very little scientific relevance, but oh what a show!  It set the precedent for all the Frankenstein movies to come.

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) prepares to create life in FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) prepares to create life in FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

Even more memorable than the whirring electrodes and blinking lights was the everlasting dramatic image of the lab table with the unborn body of the Monster lying on it rising to the top of the towering ceiling of Frankenstein’s lab making its way through a giant opening high into the sky into the raging thunder and lightning.  Henry Frankenstein literally raises his unborn creation into the heavens to give it its life spark.

And when he brings the table back down to the ground, and we see the Monster’s hand moving and witness Henry Frankenstein’s reaction, “It’s alive!” it provides one of the most iconic scenes in horror movie history.

I can only imagine how terrified movie audiences were back in 1931 watching this story unfold for the first time of a dead body coming to life, and in that moment, seeing for the first time that the corpse on the table wasn’t a corpse anymore but a living being.  It must have been chilling.

The creation scene in FRANKENSTEIN is not only the best creation scene in the Universal series, but it’s also the best creation scene in any FRANKENSTEIN movie period!  Countless Frankenstein movies have been made since.  None have matched this scene, and few have come close.  The closest is Hammer’s THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) but that’s a story for another day.

James Whale’s sequel to FRANKENSTEIN, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) has the distinction of being the only Frankenstein film in the series in which the Frankenstein Monster (Boris Karloff) doesn’t spend any time on a laboratory table getting zapped with life-reviving electricity.

When the film opens, it’s revealed that the Monster survived the fire in the windmill at the end of FRANKENSTEIN, and so he’s already up and running when this movie begins.  There’s no need for him to receive a laboratory “pick me up.”

Of course, there is a creation scene in BRIDE, and it’s the climactic scene near the end where the Monster’s Bride (Elsa Lanchester) is finally brought to life.  As creation scenes go, it’s a good one, and the staging here by director James Whale is more elaborate than in FRANKENSTEIN, but as is often the case, bigger isn’t necessarily better.  And it is bigger, as the lab set is larger, and the sequence where the lab table rises through the roof is on a grander scale than the original and includes kites flying into the lightning-charged sky.

There’s a lot to like in this scene.  The dramatic electrical equipment is back again, and not only do you have Colin Clive back as Henry Frankenstein, but you also have Ernest Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorious, as well as Karloff’s Monster who’s in the lab to prompt Henry to keep working to make his bride.  Heck, Clive even gets to shout “She’s Alive!’

It’s a very good scene.  However, it’s nowhere near as shocking or dramatic as the creation scene in the original FRANKENSTEIN.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) is the first film in the series in which the Monster (Boris Karloff) is viewed as a patient in need of ongoing medical treatment.  Ygor (Bela Lugosi) tells Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the adult son of Henry Frankenstein, that the Monster is “sick” and “weak” and needs to be strong again.

Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) examine their "patient", the Monster (Boris Karloff) in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) examine their “patient”, the Monster (Boris Karloff) in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

The Monster “died” at the end of THE BRIDE OF FRAKENSTEIN when the entire lab blew up, but as we learn in this movie, Henry Frankenstein and his electric rays were so successful at creating life that basically the Monster cannot die- or at least he’s more difficult to kill than ordinary human beings.  And so when we first see him in this film, he’s lying on a table in a semi-conscious state.  In fact, he spends a lot of time in this movie in a semi-conscious state which is why a large chunk of this film is less compelling than the two movies which preceded it.  The Monster isn’t up and running and scaring people until two thirds of the way into this one.

There really isn’t a creation scene in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.  After some preliminary examinations, Basil Rathbone’s Wolf Frankenstein uses a much smaller assortment of electrical devices to attempt to bring the Monster back to full strength.  It’s all very undramatic. SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is a very entertaining movie, the most elaborate of the entire series, but its “creation” scene is a dud and probably the least dramatic of the entire series.

The fourth film in the series THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) saw Lon Chaney Jr. taking over the role of the Monster, replacing Boris Karloff.  Chaney played all four of the major movie monsters (the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, and the Mummy) and played them well; however, his portrayal of the Frankenstein Monster was his least satisfying.

In THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, the Monster (Lon Chaney Jr.) is revived without the help of electrical equipment in a laboratory, as Ygor (Bela Lugosi) simply finds his friend buried in a Sulphur pit where he fell at the end of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN and he simply digs him out.

The more dramatic laboratory scenes come later.  Ygor takes the Monster to see Henry Frankenstein’s second son Ludwig (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), who’s a doctor who treats mental illness, but no, he doesn’t hold psychiatric sessions with the Monster in this one.  He does attempt to use his laboratory equipment to destroy the Monster, before changing his mind when he’s visited by the “ghost” of his father who inspires him to keep the Monster alive.

The more dramatic “creation” scene happens at the end of THE GHOST OF FRAKENSTEIN when the devious Dr. Bowmer (Lionel Atwill) conspires with Ygor to secretly transplant Ygor’s brain into the Monster in order to give the all-powerful creation a sinister mind to use on a world-conquering power trip.  Alas, the actual transplant occurs off-screen, and so visually this scene has little to offer, but in terms of story, it’s all rather dramatic and exciting.

The next film in the series, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943) contains my second favorite creation scene in the entire series.  Again, the Monster doesn’t need a lab to bring him back to life.  This time around, Wolf Man Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) discovers the body of the Monster (Bela Lugosi) frozen in ice and simply digs him out.   The Monster doesn’t even have to be revived after being frozen for all those years, as he simply steps out of the ice and is feeling as right as rain.

The creation scene once again comes at the end of the movie, a pattern which would continue for the rest of the series.  This time around, Dr. Mannering (Patric Knowles) agrees to use Dr. Frankenstein’s notes to put Larry Talbot out of his misery, a plan proposed by Talbot himself, as he’s seeking release from his werewolf curse.  So, they set up shop in Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein’s old laboratory from THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, and Mannering attempts to transfer Talbot’s energy (thus killing him) into the Monster, but Mannering, like all good scientists in these movies, becomes obsessed with the Monster and decides to pour all the electrical juices into the creature to bring him back to full strength.

The Monster (Bela Lugosi) regains his sight in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943).

The Monster (Bela Lugosi) regains his sight in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943).

When the Monster finally gains his strength, he smiles a sinister smile, and it’s a great moment for Lugosi’s Monster.  In the original script, the Monster was supposed to be blind, a side-effect of the brain transplant at the conclusion of THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN, and it’s this moment when the Monster regains his sight, which is why he smiles.  All references to the Monster being blind were cut from the final print, but even so, Lugosi’s smile here is still very effective.

And what follows is the climactic battle between the Monster and the Wolf Man inside the laboratory.  It’s a great sequence, one of the best in the series.

Sadly, the Monster would take a huge step backwards in the next two films in the series, as would the creation scenes. HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) is significant because it added Dracula (John Carradine) to the mix, giving the movie three monsters, as the Frankenstein Monster (now played by Glenn Strange) and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr.) returned.  It also marked the return of Boris Karloff to the series, although not as the Monster but as the evil Dr. Niemann, a protégé of Dr. Frankenstein, who is more insane and ruthless than any of the Dr. Frankensteins who appeared earlier.  Niemann is much closer in spirit to Dr. Pretorious from BRIDE and Peter Cushing’s interpretation of Baron Frankenstein in the Hammer movies.

Alas, the Monster spends the majority of this movie as an unconscious body, lying in wait for Niemann to restore his strength.  This occurs at the end of the movie, in a brief sequence, and the Monster is only on his feet long enough to be instantly chased and “killed” by the angry mob of torch wielding villagers who chase him into a pit of quicksand where he and Dr. Neimann sink to their deaths.

Ditto for the next film in the series, HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945).  All three monsters return again here, but once again the Frankenstein Monster is reduced to being a reclining patient and isn’t revived until the final seconds of the movie.  Very sad.

Ironically, it would take turning the series into a comedy with ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) to return the monsters to prominence.  Bela Lugosi returned as Dracula, Lon Chaney Jr. was back as the Wolf Man, and Glenn Strange finally had much more to do as the Frankenstein Monster than just lie on a table— he even gets to talk!—and so in spite of the fact that this is a comedy, the monsters all fare well.

Likewise, the creation scene in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN is also a good one.  This time around, Dracula plans to put Lou Costello’s brain into the Monster.  With the electrical equipment whirring and buzzing, both Lou and the Monster are strapped to tables, but when Bud Abbot and Larry Talbot burst into the lab to the rescue, Talbot turns into the Wolf Man and instantly tangles with Dracula, while the Monster breaks from his binds and promptly tosses Dracula’s sexy female assistant out a window!

Seriously, this creation scene in spite of being played for laughs, is one of the more memorable scenes in the series.

Who knew that it would take Abbott and Costello to give the Universal Monsters a proper send off?  This would be the final film in the series.

So, there you have it.  A look at the creation scenes in the Universal Frankenstein movies.  By far, the original creation scene in FRANKENSTEIN is the best.  None that followed even come close, but if I had to rank the next couple, I’d go with the creation scene in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN second, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN third, and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN fourth.  The rest hardly warrant a blip.

Hope you enjoyed today’s column, and I look forward to seeing you again next time on a future installment of SHOCK SCENES.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

LEADING LADIES: HAZEL COURT

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Hazel Court as Elizabeth in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957, as the Creature (Christopher Lee) peers down at her through the skylight.

Hazel Court as Elizabeth in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957).  That’s Christopher Lee’s Creature peering down at her through the skylight.

LEADING LADIES:  Hazel Court

By Michael Arruda

 

Welcome back to LEADING LADIES, the column where we look at leading ladies in horror movies, especially from years gone by.

 

Today we look at the career of Hazel Court, the beautiful actress who graced many of the horror period pieces of the 1950s and 1960s.  She played Elizabeth opposite Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), and her performance as Elizabeth in this movie just might be my favorite Elizabeth performance in a Frankenstein movie, with perhaps the possible exception of Madeline Kahn’s over-the-top performance in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).

 

Hazel Court enjoyed a long career, appearing in movies and TV shows beginning in 1944 and continuing all the way up to 1981.  She has 71 screen credits.  While I know her most from her horror movie appearances, she also appeared in a bunch of TV shows in the 1960s, appearing on such shows as TWILIGHT ZONE (1964), THE WILD WILD WEST (1966), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1967), MANNIX (1967), and MCMILLAN & WIFE (1972).

 

I will forever remember her for her appearance as Elizabeth in the Hammer classic THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  What I enjoy about her most in this movie is the class she brings to the role.  Peter Cushing is an absolute devil as Victor Frankenstein, and Court’s Elizabeth is so beautiful, charming, and genuine, it makes what Victor does to her all the more painful, as he lies to her continually and cheats on her as well.

 

Her character seemed so genuinely interested in Victor’s work, I often wonder what her reaction would have been had Victor made good on his promise to tell her the truth about his work and show her his creation.  Would she have been horrified?  Or would she have been supportive?  Judging from her character in this movie, I’d guess it would be the latter, that she, unlike Victor’s former tutor-turned-assistant Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) would not have been offended but would have offered her help to her husband to make his dream of creating life come true.  But alas, this doesn’t happen, as Elizabeth is nearly murdered by the Creature (Christopher Lee), and thanks to Paul’s betrayal, Victor is sent to the guillotine.

 

My favorite Hazel Court scene as Elizabeth in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is when she boldly decides to search Victor’s laboratory on her own, to learn for herself just what it is that has caused such a rift between Victor and Paul.  She picks up a candle—the same one that Victor would use moments later to engulf his Creature in flames— and searches the area, and when she comes to the acid vat where Victor had been disposing his body parts, she brings her hand to her nose just as the Creature looks down upon her from the rooftop skylight. She looks up and cries out, “Who’s that?”  But the Creature is no longer there.

 

Here is a partial look at Hazel Court’s career, concentrating mostly on her horror film appearances:

 

CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE (1944) – Hazel Court’s first screen appearance, an uncredited bit in this comedy musical.

 

GHOST SHIP (1952) – ghosts on the high seas!

 

DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS (1954) – Hazel Court’s not the Devil Girl, but she is terribly sexy in this campy science fiction tale about a woman alien from Mars dressed in leather who’s come to Earth to dominate men.  Court plays a fashion model named Ellen Prestwick, and she definitely looks the part.  She’s never looked sexier!

 

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) – plays Elizabeth to Peter Cushing’s Victor Frankenstein in Hammer Films’ first horror hit.  That’s Court’s real life daughter Sally Walsh playing the character of Elizabeth as a child.  My favorite Hazel Court performance.

 

THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH (1959) – Janine Du Bois- reunited with THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster, and star Christopher Lee in this thriller from Hammer Films.

 

BONANZA (1960) – Lady Beatrice Dunsford – guest spot on the popular TV western in the episode named “The Last Trophy.”

 

DOCTOR BLOOD’S COFFIN (1961) – Nurse Linda Parker- low budget horror movie written by director Nathan Juran, who directed such classics as 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957) and THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), both films featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen.

 

ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (1958-1961) – appeared in four different episodes of this popular television show.

 

THRILLER (1961) – Leonie Vicek- appeared in the episode “The Terror in Teakwood” in this horror show hosted by Boris Karloff.

 

PREMATURE BURIAL (1962) – Emily Gault – stars opposite Ray Milland in this handsome horror movie directed by Roger Corman based on the Edgar Allan Poe story.

 

THE RAVEN (1963) – Lenore Craven – gets to star with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Jack Nicholson in this horror comedy by Roger Corman, loosely based on the Edgar Allan Poe poem.

 

TWILIGHT ZONE (1964) – Charlotte Scott – stars in the episode called “The Fear” in this iconic science fiction series.

 

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1964) – Juliana – in danger from Vincent Price’s evil Prince Prospero in this horror movie by Roger Corman based on the Edgar Allan Poe story.

 

THE WILD WILD WEST (1965) – Elizabeth Carter – appears in the episode “The Night of the Returning Dead” directed by Richard Donner, in this western TV series starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin.

 

MISSION:  IMPOSSIBLE (1967) – Catherine Hagar – appeared in the episode “Charity” of this spy television series starring Peter Graves.

 

MCMILLAN & WIFE (1972) – Frances Mayerling – appeared in the episode “The Face of Murder” in this mystery TV series starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.

 

 

Hazel Court passed away from a heart attack on April 15, 2008 at the age of 82.

 

Hazel Court.  February 10, 1926 – April 15, 2008.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

—Michael

 

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)

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Some of the funniest conversations in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) occur between Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and Igor (Marty Feldman).

Some of the funniest conversations in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) occur between Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and Igor (Marty Feldman).

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN   (1974)

By

Michael Arruda

It’s one of the funniest movies of all time, and it’s the subject of today’s MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES column, the column where we look at fun quotes from some memorable movies.  The film is YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, Mel Brooks’ hilarious spoof of the old Universal Frankenstein movies.  It’s absolutely hilarious and works on every level. Nearly every joke works.

Seriously, there are so many memorable lines from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, there’s not enough space in one column to cover them all.  We will definitely have to re-visit YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN in future MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES columns.

Some of the best lines are between Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) and Igor (Marty Feldman), and so in this column we’ll focus on the conversations between these two characters.

Here’s a look at some memorable lines from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, screenplay by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder:

 

When Dr. Frankenstein and Igor first meet, they have this discussion regarding their names:

IGOR: Dr. Frankenstein…

DR. FRANKENSTEIN:  Fronkensteen.

IGOR:  You’re putting me on.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN:  No, it’s pronounced “Fronkensteen.”

IGOR:  Do you also say “Froaderick”?

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: No… “Frederick.”

IGOR:  Well, why isn’t it “Froaderick Fronkensteen”?

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: It isn’t. It’s “Frederick Fronkensteen.”

IGOR:  I see.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: You must be Ee-gor.

IGOR;  No, it’s pronounced “eye-gor.”

DR. FRANKENSTEIN:  But they told me it was “ee-gor.”

IGOR:  Well, they were wrong then, weren’t they?

 

And later, this funny bit in a horse and wagon with Dr. Frankenstein, Igor, and Victor’s female assistant Inga (Teri Garr) on their way to the castle:

 

(A wolf howls)

INGA:  Werewolf!

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: Werewolf?

IGOR:  There.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: What?

IGOR:  There, wolf. There, castle.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: Why are you talking that way?

IGOR: I thought you wanted to.

DR. FRANKENSTEIN: No, I don’t want to.

IGOR:  [shrugs] Suit yourself. I’m easy.

 

One of my favorite Igor moments in the film is when he gives this advice to Frederick Frankenstein, who’s sad that his initial experiment to create life has failed.

IGOR: You know, I’ll never forget my old dad. When these things would happen to him… the things he’d say to me.

FRANKENSTEIN: What did he say?

IGOR:  “What the hell are you doing in the bathroom day and night? Why don’t you get out of there and give someone else a chance?”

Igor then returns to eating silently.

 

A bit later at the dinner table:

IGOR: (referring to the dessert): What is this?

FRANKENSTEIN: Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte.

THE MONSTER (off-camera): Mmmmm!

FRANKENSTEIN:  Oh, do you like it? I’m not partial to desserts myself, but this is excellent.

IGOR:  Who are you talking to?

FRANKENSTEIN: To you. You just made a yummy sound, so I thought you liked the dessert.

IGOR:  I didn’t make a yummy sound. I just asked you what it is.

FRANKENSTEIN:  But you did. I just heard it.

IGOR:  It wasn’t me.

INGA:  It wasn’t me.

FRANKENSTEIN:  Well, now look here. If it wasn’t you, and it wasn’t you…

THE MONSTER (off-camera):  Mmmmmm!

 

Here is one of the most famous exchanges in the film, the classic bit where Dr. Frankenstein finds out just what kind of brain Igor has collected for him:

FRANKENSTEIN:  Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck’s?

IGOR (pauses): No.

FRANKENSTEIN: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?

IGOR:  Then you won’t be angry?

FRANKENSTEIN: I will not be angry.

IGOR:  Abby someone.

FRANKENSTEIN: Abby someone. Abby who?

IGOR:  Abby… Normal.

FRANKENSTEIN: Abby Normal?

IGOR:  I’m almost sure that was the name.

FRANKENSTEIN (chuckles): Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide gorilla?

(Grabs Igor and starts shaking and strangling him.).  Is that what you’re telling me?

 

And to finish, one of my favorite silly bits in the whole movie:

IGOR:  Where are you going?

FRANKENSTEIN:  To wash up. I’ve got to look normal.  (As he says this, his bow tie pops open, making him look ridiculous.) We’ve all of us got to behave normally.

 

And that’s it for now. We’ll re-visit YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN in a future column.

Thanks for joining me today, and I’ll see you next time on another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

YOUR MOVIE LISTS: MEL BROOKS

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Mel Brooks in SILENT MOVIE (1976)

Mel Brooks in SILENT MOVIE (1976)

YOUR MOVIE LISTS: Mel Brooks By Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of YOUR MOVIE LISTS, that column where you’ll find lists of various odds and ends pertaining to the movies. Today we look at the films of Mel Brooks.

Mel Brooks is one of my favorite comedic filmmakers. His zany inane in-your-face style often reminds me of The Three Stooges.

Here’s a list of movies written and directed by Brooks, famous for his film parodies.

THE PRODUCERS (1967) – It’s “Springtime For Hitler” in this Brooks farce about two conniving producers played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder who set out to make a fortune by producing a sure-fire flop. Also features Dick Shawn and Kenneth Mars. Brooks’ screenplay won an Oscar.

THE TWELVE CHAIRS (1970) – Brooks’ comedy about a treasure hunt in Russia stars Ron Moody, Frank Langella, and Dom DeLuise.

BLAZING SADDLES (1974) – Brooks first megahit, this western spoof famous for its off-color raunchy humor and in-your-face slapstick gags stars Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, and Mel Brooks.

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) – Mel Brooks’ spoof of the Universal Frankenstein movies is my all-time favorite Mel Brooks movie, and one of my favorite comedies period. Everything works: the jokes, the performances, the Puttin’ on the Ritz song and dance number, nothing misfires. Starring Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein—er, that’s Fron-kon- steen— Peter Boyle as the Monster, Marty Feldman as Igor— that’s pronounced Eye-gor—Madeline Kahn as Elizabeth, Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, Teri Garr as Inga, and Kenneth Mars as the one-armed Inspector. Nonstop laughs from beginning to end. Used the original FRANKENSTEIN lab equipment from the 1931 Karloff film. 1974 was quite the year for Brooks, as he made both this movie and BLAZING SADDLES in the one year! The screenplay by Brooks and Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar.

SILENT MOVIE (1976) – Brooks’ spoof of silent movies received less fanfare than his previous two hits and is a bit more uneven, but it’s still one of my favorite Mel Brooks movies. Stars Mel Brooks, Marty Feldman, Dom DeLuise, and Sid Caesar, with lots of cameos.

HIGH ANXIETY (1977) – Brooks’ spoof of Hitchcock movies failed to really catch on with audiences, but again, for me, this is another of my favorite Brooks movies. Love the PSYCHO and THE BIRDS sequences. Starring Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman.

HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART 1 (1981) – the first Mel Brooks movie that I wasn’t crazy about. The humor just didn’t work for me here in this tale chronicling key events from world history. Includes the usual Mel Brooks cast: Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Harvey Korman, and Cloris Leachman.

SPACEBALLS (1987) – Brooks’ spoof of STAR WARS and other science fiction movies isn’t bad, but it’s not as spot-on as his earlier works. Featuring John Candy as Barf, Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, and Mel Brooks as Yogurt.

LIFE STINKS (1991) – Brooks’ misfire about a wealthy man who makes a bet that he can live on the streets as a homeless person for a month. Has its moments.

ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993) – a spoof of — Robin Hood movies? I didn’t know this was even a genre. What this film mostly spoofs is the Kevin Costner film ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES (1991) a film that today most people have already forgotten and so lots of the jokes here fall flat. Mildly funny movie, nowhere near as sharp as Brooks’ earlier works.

DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT (1995) – Brooks’ spoof of Dracula movies. Unlike YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, where Brooks parodied many key scenes from the original Universal series, he doesn’t do that here. The look of this one resembles the Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula series. Yet Brooks doesn’t make specific reference to them. With Leslie Nielsen as Dracula and Mel Brooks as Van Helsing, this one had lots of potential but simply forgot to be funny.

Mel Brooks was born on June 28, 1926. As of this writing, he’s 88 years-old.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael    

IN THE SHADOWS: THORLEY WALTERS

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Thorley Walters as Ludwig in DRACULA - PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)

Thorley Walters as Ludwig in DRACULA – PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)

In The Shadows: THORLEY WALTERS

By Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of In The Shadows, the column where we honor character actors from the movies, especially horror movies. Earlier in this column we looked at the careers of Lionel Atwill, Dwight Frye, and Hammer favorite Michael Ripper.

Today we look at another character actor from Hammer Films, Thorley Walters. If you’ve seen your share of Hammer Films, chances are you’ve seen Thorley Walters.

Walters usually played a pompous stuffy type, a bumbling buffoon, or a mixture of the two. Some standout roles include his performance as Ludwig in DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966), in which he played a character very similar to Renfield from Bram Stoker’s novel. Ludwig is a man who had once visited Castle Dracula and had left the castle somewhat insane and still under Dracula’s influence.

When the young couple fleeing Dracula (Christopher Lee) takes shelter with Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) at his monastery, where Ludwig is also staying, it’s Ludwig who invites Dracula inside.

Walters was also memorable as the snuff sniffing Police Inspector hot on the trail of Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) in FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969). He chases Frankenstein throughout the entire movie but never quite catches him.

Walters’ most memorable performance however, and my personal favorite, came in the previous Hammer Frankenstein movie, FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1969). In this film, Walters played Baron Frankenstein’s bumbling but loyal assistant, Doctor Hertz. The way Cushing and Walters interact in this film is priceless, and their camaraderie here is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. In the entire Hammer Frankenstein series, Walters’ Hertz is probably the best of Victor Frankenstein’s assistants. He’s certainly the most likable.

I’ve always wished Walters had reprised the role. I would have enjoyed seeing more tales of Baron Frankenstein with Doctor Hertz by his side.

Walters enjoyed a long film career, appearing in films from the 1930s all the way up until his death in 1991.

Here’s a partial list of Thorley Walters’ 139 acting credits, concentrating mostly on his Hammer Film and other genre appearances:

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1962) – Lattimer – Assistant to Michael Gough’s insanely annoying Lord Ambrose d’Arcy, the true villain in this Hammer Phantom film starring Herbert Lom as the Phantom. Walters gets to roll his eyes and shake his head at Gough’s infuriating antics.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE (1962) – Dr. Watson-
Plays Dr. Watson to Christopher Lee’s Sherlock Holmes in this French, Italian, and German production directed by Hammer A-list director Terence Fisher. A muddled production. Both Lee’s and Walter’s voices are dubbed by other actors!

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) – Edgar Otis – A science fiction horror film by director Terence Fisher.

DRACULA- PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) – Ludwig – Memorable role as Renfield-type character in this sequel to HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), again directed by Terence Fisher. With Christopher Lee, of course, as Dracula.

THE PSYCHOPATH (1966) – Martin Roth – Walters appears here in a horror movie not directed by Terence Fisher, but by Freddie Francis with a script by Robert Bloch in this Amicus production.

THE AVENGERS – TV series- Episode: “What The Butler Saw” (July 28, 1966) – Hubert Hemming.

FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN (1967) – Doctor Hertz – My personal favorite Thorley Walters role. His Doctor Hertz is such a likeable character, and Walters and Peter Cushing work so well together it’s too bad this was the only pairing of these two characters. The best of Baron Frankenstein’s assistants in the Hammer Frankenstein series.

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)- Inspector Frisch – As Inspector Frisch, Thorley Walters chases Peter Cushing’s evil Baron Frankenstein across the countryside because in this flick Frankenstein must be destroyed.

THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (1970) – Frank Bellamy – Thriller starring Roger Moore.

TROG (1970) – Magistrate – Classic horror flick from the 1970s starring Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, and an ape man. Directed by Freddie Francis. Sadly, Crawford’s last film.

THERE’S A GIRL IN MY SOUP (1970) – Manager of Carlton Hotel – Silly comedy starring Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn.

VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972)- Burgermeister – Superior and very underrated Hammer vampire film. If you haven’t seen this one, definitely check it out.

THE ADVENTURE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SMARTER BROTHER (1975) – Dr. Watson – Again plays Dr. Watson, this time to Douglas Wilmer’s Sherlock Holmes in this silly comedy starring Gene Wilder as Sherlock Holmes’ inept younger brother. Also starring Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Dom DeLuise, obviously trying to recapture the YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) magic. Falls short. Written and directed by Wilder.

THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (1977) – Norfolk – Amicus’ sequel to their earlier hit THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT (1975), both films starring Doug McClure. Average.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984) – Ned Quilley – Critically acclaimed drama starring Diane Keaton.

Thorley Walters also appeared in many TV shows and miniseries.

Thorley Walters: May 12, 1913 – July 6, 1991

Thanks for reading everybody!

—Michael