The Carradine Face

The many magical expressions of John Carradine, the man with the India-rubber kisser. Taken from LA SIGNORA MUERTE, a low-grade Mexican mad scientist movie in which old Long John is by turns ludicrous, wonderful, terrible, repellant and kind of pitiable. He deserved better, and so do we.

“Never do anything you wouldn’t be caught dead doing,” was Carradine’s advice to his acting offspring, and one wishes that (a) he’d set his standards a little higher and (b) son David had paid better attention. Still, I like this cramped, busy, upsettingly strange composition ~

Uh, what’s the subject of this shot? The chandelier?

LA SIGNORA MUERTE shoehorns a bunch of horror cliches together without any regard for sense. Screenwriter Ramón Obón Jnr is an old hand at Mexican horror, and his father,  also called Ramón Obón, penned the genuinely inventive and atmospheric EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE (THE LIVING COFFIN) some ten years earlier.

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17 Responses to “The Carradine Face”

  1. Reminds me strangely of the Marty Feldman stills from “Animations of Mortality”. I only mention this because I’m running a bit low on esoteric wanker points.

  2. Tempting to deploy him in a cut-out cartoon, but that visage really demands squash-and-stretch to make it play.

  3. I’m having fun scrolling.

  4. Yes! You have to zoom in about six times, then click the screen up and down and he’ll instantly change expressions. Carradine lives! It’s very much like having him in the room, especially if you open a bottle of bourbon.

  5. Did you know that John Carradine once accepted payment for a part he played in a movie in cases of canned tuna fish?

  6. That, I did not know. But I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the film. But there ain’t enough canned fish in the world to justify doing this dreck.

  7. I like how the bags under his eyes swell as he opens said eyes. We need a flipbook!

  8. I’m telling you, go to View in your menu and zoom in until each image fills the screen, the click up and down, it’s better than any flipbook! Sheer movie magic.

  9. kevin mummery Says:

    John Carradine. Man Of Five Faces. A little short of Chaney’s record, eh?

  10. So you get one Carradine face to 200 Chaneys.

  11. kevin mummery Says:

    Good point. It’s interesting to see how far back in film history you can go and see Carradine in a bit part. Recently watched “Bride of Frankenstein” and there he was, calling attention to The Monster’s presence in the Blind Hermit’s residence and this was in 1935…I think he was probably cast because James Whale remembered his fine work in the original Edison Studios version of “Frankenstein” from 1910, in which he portrayed a coatrack. A coatrack with a very wide dramatic range.

  12. Heh! Nothing wooden about that performance. Going back farther, we can find him as a luggage trolley in Train Arriving at a Station, and as a spear in the Lascaux cave paintings.

  13. kevin mummery Says:

    He certainly had a long career, didn’t he? On the subject of long careers, I’m always surpised to see Ernest Thesiger in “Man in the White Suit” and “The Horse’s Mouth”; he already looked old in “Bride of Frankenstein”, but 20 years later he looked 50 years older.

  14. Here’s an image of the never-quite-young Thesiger in Alfred Hitchcock’s first film, the never-completed No 13 —

    http://thebioscope.net/2008/01/17/

  15. kevin mummery Says:

    Thanks for that image…if the caption hadn’t stated it was Thesiger in the picture I’d never have been able to guess who it was. I always learn something new here, and once again my knowledge has been broadened.

  16. You’re welcome!

    And that image is only ten years or so before his Whale days.

    I’m sure I saw a picture of ET looking young and pretty somewhere, but I couldn’t find it just now.

  17. I think you should look in your Daguerreotype collection.

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