Where the Buffalo Roam

George Sanders sings! God, I love George. He’s really taking the mickey here.

His vocal partner is George Bancroft, from the early thrillers of Josef Von Sternberg, who seems to have loosened up enormously since THUNDERBOLT. Maybe Sternberg was responsible for his hypnotically slow delivery in that film. At any rate, he doesn’t look any older. Must’ve had some kind of Fountain of Middle Age.

The film is GREEN HELL, directed by James Whale. Despite the stellar cast (Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Joan Bennett are top-billed), co-star Vincent Price described it as “about four of the worst movies ever made,” but it resolutely refuses to enter the domain of So-Bad-It’s-Good-ness. That “about four” crack is a fair assessment of the shapeless narrative, blame for which seems to fall, alas, on Frances Marion, once one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, responsible for great films like Sjostrom’s THE WIND and THE SCARLET LETTER, but considered by many to have declined lamentably during the talkie era. James Whale himself was on the slide, not due to any traumatic loss of talent, but simply due to the vagaries of showbusiness and Hollywood politics.

Still, this was worth seeing, right?

24 Responses to “Where the Buffalo Roam”

  1. It is worth seeing. No less an eminence than Sir Ian (Gandalf) McKellen told me that he found all the male leads “very sexy” adding “there must have been a lot of fun on that set.”

    The temple that figures in one scene was used later on by Universal in one of its Mummy sequels.

    No, not the ones with Brendan Fraser.

  2. Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart are doing Waiting for Godot next month:

  3. That could be really interesting. Neither one of them is obvious casting, but McKellen is brilliant, and should strike some sparks off the flinty Stewart.

    It’s a very nice pseudo-Aztec temple: the visuals generally are pleasing. One horrible moment intercuts laughing natives with monkeys watching from treetops, though.

  4. I gather Simon Callow is doing “Pozzo” in this production — with Ronald Pickup as “Lucky.”

    Godot seems to be all over the place these days as a Broadway revival is being planned with Nathan Lane (as either “Vladimir” or “Estragon”) and John Glover as “Lucky.”

  5. Well considering the atmosphere we are living, where we’re stuck in a vast abyss that’s plummeting fast, it makes sense.

    But then Beckett’s masterpiece is always up for a revival being the laugh riot that it is.

  6. The man himself! Not someone you see a lot of footage of.

  7. > The temple that figures in one scene
    > was used later on by Universal in
    > one of the Mummy sequels.

    I believe that it was “The Mummy’s Hand,” and that it can be glimpsed here:

    Love the little bit of George Zucco perversity one glimpses here. Then, too, there’s the stock music by Hans J. Salter and/or Frank Skinner. Proust’s Marcel had his madeleine; me, I have stock music from Universal monster movies.

  8. david wingrove Says:

    Many thanks for the clip. It’s a mind-blowingly surreal experience. Up there with THE STRANGE WOMAN, where George Sanders plays a lumberjack!

  9. GEORGE CAN DO ANYTHING! Need a voice for your cartoon tiger (The Jungle Book)? Someone to play a shy, virginal wallpaper designer (Uncle Harry)? A transvestite cabaret singer (The Kremlin Letter)? Let George Do It!
    The Mummy’s Hand looks like it must be the one. Just paint hieroglyphs on everything and your Aztec temple becomes an Egyptian tomb.

    George is pretty much having a laugh throughout Green Hell, having correctly deduced that there’s nothing of dramatic interest to detain him.

  10. Christopher Says:

    One of my fave George Sanders’s is coming to dvd here in May…Man Hunt…finally…..Naughty=George..Nice = Tom..Altho I’m not so sure about that judging by the Val Lewtons..

  11. Tom was apparently much the nicer brother in real life, but could certainly be suavely villainous onscreen if required. He didn’t have George’s magnetism though. Yet he’s really perfect for the Lewtons — it’s hard to say how or why, exactly, but Lewton’s productions seemed to thrive on actors who were not excessively interesting. No wonder Lewton was alarmed at the prospect of Karloff, although it worked out alright.

    Man Hunt is terrific. I highly recommend the novel (Rogue Male) if you can get it. Maybe even better than Lang’s movie, although it’s a close call.

  12. Hey Brits, you’ll never be at home on our range, so get the fuck off it before we engage in more gentle mockery of your overbred dilettante ways in order to vent our lingering sense of cultural inferiority. USA! USA!


    — the deer and the antelope

  13. Christopher Says:

    …Peter O’Toole did a “made for TV “? movie, of Rogue Male..i’d like to see….
    I think one of the best moves RKO did was give Orson Welles the boot and move up Val Lewton..I like Citizen Kane ,Magnificent Ambersons a little better but Come ooooon!..Karloff didn’t hurt those Lewtons..not for me..Theres not a one I dislike..’cept for Ghost Ship ,which irks me a bit

  14. George Sanders Is A Many-Splendored Thing …

  15. Christopher Says:

    George Sanders in Glen or Glenda…lol..He looked great there till the end..what a waste..

  16. I was trying to recall who Sanders’ drag act reminded me of, and I’ve decided it’s probably Bette Davis, as a giantess.

    I’m not sure if the Home on the Range number really has any satirical point. And the director’s an Englishman…

    The TV Rogue Male is supposed to be very good, but it’s not currently available, I think.

    RKO traded one genius for another, I’d say, and they got commercial hits from Lewton, but they then allowed him to work himself to death / get torn up by studio politicking. I like Karloff, nothing wrong with his work in those films, but I like the captain in The Ghost Ship, and the killer in The Leopard Man, even better. So low-key in performance style that they couldn’t POSSIBLY be the villains…

  17. That Beckett clip’s amazing. Just a trace of a French accent — which figures.

  18. Amazing thing about it is that it’s only two years before his death and he looks terrific in that. Wish I’d have his grace if he live that long. No wonder Susan Sontag called him the sexiest man alive.

  19. A trace of French, maybe, but plenty of Irish.

    Arthur, you could equally be talking about Beckett, or Sanders in The Kremlin Letter!

    Note that Beckett’s little fingers curl inwards at all times — this is a condition of aging (it runs in my family) where the mesh in your hands which your tendons attach to shrinks, tightening the fingers into claws. It’s treatable with an operation these days.

  20. Christopher Says:

    Great Mummy’s Hand trailer…Definately the best of the sequels..Love the way Foran unloads his Pistol into the Mummy and keeps on standing there,giving him time to creep up(nobody ever takes advantage of this time to get miles away!) and give him the mummy stranglehold..I expect him to snatch the Gun away and give Foran a few Bitch slaps ala Humphery Bogart..I used to have a Record LP with Salter’s(original recordings)selected music cuts from The Mummy’s Hand(flashback burial chant included) ,Black Friday and Man Made Monster,on one side,the other side had John Cacavas’s score for Horror Express..

  21. Was that a Saraband-Varese release? I used to see their albums advertised in American magazines, and covet them as a child. I quite like the wah-wah guitar stylings of Horror Express — any film with Telly Savalas as a cossack SHOULD have a wah-wah guitar soundtrack. And what people don’t appreciate about that movie is that it has a brilliant premise!

  22. Christopher Says:

    Horror Rahpsody was the name of Record..on the Citadel label..I see theres one on Ebay…
    I’m not too familiar with Cacavas’s film music..other than Satanic rites of Drac….appears to have done alot of TV music….I like Horror Express tho..kind of a euro genre picture sound..

  23. Yeah. I like the Quatermassy concept, the model train (passing by a giant camera shadow in the opening shot), Cushing and Lee as bickering protags, and the Rasputin looky-likey.

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