Kane Caught in Love Nest with “Octopus”
The IMDb credits for makeup wiz Maurice Seiderman are full of intrigue, even if they seem like they’re probably only a representative smattering of his career as a whole. Anybody who goes from CITIZEN KANE to BRIDE OF THE MONSTER definitely incites my curiosity.
I discussed this matter with regular Shadowplayer/renaissance man Randy Cook, and while we agreed that probably Seiderman’s contribution to Ed Wood’s spastic classic was the design of Tor Johnson’s “Lobo” makeup (“Too bad Pauline Kael didn’t see that, she could’ve claimed it inspired the old age makeup for KANE”), Randy did throw out the amusing suggestion that maybe the common denominator is the octopus.
You remember the octopus, right?
(1) As featured in Burton’s ED WOOD (“Just thrash around, make it look like it’s killin’ ya,”), the plastic cephalopod mollusc plays a climactic part in BRIDE.
(2) And in KANE, there’s a prosthetic beastie puppeteered towards the camera during the News on the March newsreel sequence.
Me: “Was that a fake octopus?”
Randy (laughing): “Oh yeah.”
He’s right. The shot flashes by so quickly I’d never honestly registered it as bogus, although it did seem like the octo was moving rather oddly. Which is because it’s on wires, duh.
Fiona: “Why does Kane have an octopus anyway? Where does he keep it?”
Me: “Special apartment. The Wet Room. A love nest!”
After all, you can’t have a Pleasure Dome without octopi, can you?
I would be ashamed of my lousy faking of the newspaper shot at the top os this post, were it not for this image in CITIZEN KANE itself, which deploys 1940s PhotoShop technology (ie scissors and glue) to populate the grounds of Xanadu. Apparently this is a pastiche of yellow press “composographs”, the faked pictures which Boss Geddes complains about to Kane. Does anyone recognise Charlie and Susie’s fellow lollers?
The News on the March sequence, which we’re told was cut by RKO’s own newsreel department, because, as Welles said, “They have their own crazy way of doing things,” uses lots of stock footage and stock music, mingled with select shots of specially-contrived fakery, using undercranking and scratches on the film to blend them in. The IMDb has a helpful guide to music sources here. I was surprised to spot the News on the March main theme in NURSE EDITH CAVELL, as I wrote here. But it’d be nice to get a listing for the stock shots — I’m curious to know the provenance of that octopus: obviously a pre-1941 RKO movie. SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON? ISLE OF DESTINY?
[a] Seiderman almost certainly applied the joke-shop scars to the Swedish wrestler (Tor didn’t really NEED makeup to play a monster) and
[b] Probably did NOT invent the soft contact lens, as he apparently claimed, but did have something to do with developing part of the process, maybe. He seems to have been something of a mythomaniac (no wonder Welles liked him), and this claim found its way into his obituaries and eventually into Shadowplay. The lies men tell live on after them. Seiderman’s unreliable narrator status is going to make it even harder to arrive at a definitive list of his credits… any info will be gratefully received. Any entertaining lies… likewise.
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