Threat of the Week

“You’ll be fucked up by motor boat.”

Michael Rennie receives disturbing news in TOWER OF TERROR, 1941 — the year of the great Associated British Pictures proofreaders’ strike.

Movie features good, intense creepy work from the great Wilfred Lawson as a hook-handed drunken and psychotic lighthouse keeper. Terrible thing, typecasting. It also stars Movita — I’d forgotten there was such a person as Movita, and I laughed when I saw her name. It sounds like some manager’s invention, a failed attempt at exotic allure — but it’s her actual name. She was the female star of  the 30s MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, and she married Marlon Brando, who later also married the female star of the 60s MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. Apparently his goal was to marry all the female stars of all the versions of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. Ah, Tevaite Vernette, you had a lucky escape!

“I’ll be WHAT???”

11 Responses to “Threat of the Week”

  1. On her 50’s sitcom Life With Elizabeth Betty White had a running gag about her obsession with Michael Rennie.

    Maybe she was fucking the boat.

  2. I think Jack Kirby had a visual obsession with Michael Rennie. He is obviously every scientist from TALES TO ASTONISH, on down through CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN and smack dab into Reed Richards of the FANTASTIC FOUR.

  3. Well, Klaatu must lie at the heart of that one. Rennie’s rather stiff manner perfectly suited that role. Give him a stalwart hero to play and he’s slow death, but a mysterious alien works nicely.

  4. Released only a year before another British film with a lighthouse and its keeper, THUNDER ROCK. Although this one looks to be of slightly lesser caliber. Still, when you put the words “intense” and “creepy” side by side, I’m in the door. Hooked, you might say.

  5. There’s not quite enough Wilfred to fulfill the movie’s potential, and Thunder Rock is by far the superior production. I still marvel at the scenes photographed with both the camera and set slanting at an angle. Everything looks normal, until the actors move, and you sense their ankles straining against the incline…

  6. Christopher Says:

    I thought that said TOWER OF LONDON at first…motorboats up and down the Thames.Humpback and Dragfoot-Men of Speed!

  7. That could work in the rather fun Ian McKellen version of Richard III — it already has armoured tanks. It’s set in almost the same period as Tower of Terror…

    It occurs to me that Wilfred Lawson would have made a fantastic Richard!

  8. Christopher Says:

    He’s almost a dead ringer for McKellen in later days..

  9. Well, in his very later days he has an embalmed quality that McKellen, thankfully, hasn’t reached. I’m not sure “Serena,” as Sir Ian’s friends call him, would see the comparison as a compliment.

  10. david wingrove Says:

    Michael Rennie is actually rather sexy in a gloriously trashy Italian melodrama called MAMBO, where he stars alongside Silvana Mangano, Shelley Winters and Vittorio Gassman.

    He plays a decadent aristo who ravishes Silvana at a Carnival Ball in Venice. If you believe that, you’ll believe anything, I suppose…but it’s a fun fantasy nonetheless.

  11. Mambo is one of Robert Rossen’s more peculiar ventures.

    I guess Rennie shares with Hurd Hatfield a quality of colourlessness that’s a disadvantage for “normal” roles but fantastically useful in anchoring unconventional characters.

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