The Wrath of Cahn

It seems I’ve underestimate Edward L Cahn, based on his dopey sci-fi and horror monsterworks — over at the Daily Notebook you can now read about his early work, when he was full of fiery purpose, craft, discipline and kinetic ideas, and could afford more than one decent actor per movie. Actually, there have always been good actors available cheap, you just need to look for them, direct them well, and have decent enough material to bring out their talents. Something about Z-list sci-fi horror of the 50s and 60s seems to discourage this, somehow.

So: Early Cahn must be marked an object for further study.

Forgotten Pre-codes has now passed the halfway mark — and I think I’ve just found the musical I want to write about…

12 Responses to “The Wrath of Cahn”

  1. La Faustin Says:

    This is my favorite series ever — please don’t say it’s half over!

  2. We’ll certainly continue discussing pre-codes here and at The Chiseler and The Daily Notebook. And probably next year we’ll have another themed Forgotten series, never fear.

    I’ve watched so many pre-codes that didn’t make the cut for Forgotten Pre-Codes, I’ll have another pre-code round-up ready for Christmas.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    AFRAID TO TALK (32): dig the swinging lamp (thanks, Karl Freund) in the interrogation scene (15 years before Anthony Mann did it in DESPERATE) and the elaborate “panze humor” in the elevator.

    Dave Kehr also did an appreciation of early Cahn in the latest issue of “Film Comment.” His career at Universal seemed to get scuttled just as it began (like Ulmer’s).

  4. David Boxwell Says:

    DESTINATION MURDER (50): if you like Calhern here, check out Hurd Hatfield and Albert Dekker as a very weird “smoothie villain” tag team.

    It is puzzling to think of Cahn as a dutiful team-player in the shorts department at MGM for most of the 30s and 40s.

  5. That IS odd — but MGM had quite a strange way of using people, at times. I’m definitely going to check out more of Cahn’s thriller work. The Dekker-Hatfield combo sounds awe-inspiring!

  6. Hey, I know, maybe Cahn’s CURSE OF THE FACELESS MAN (1958) is about the reawakening of the otherwise indifferent proletariat?

    (I know I’ve seen this one, but my memory of it is blank. I suspect that it’s strictly for Adele Mara complete-ists.)

    Anyone ’round here seen the Cahn-directed MAIN STREET AFTER DARK (1945)? Made at MGM, starring Edward Arnold, co-written by John C. Higgins (cf. T-MEN), with a cast that includes Dan Dailey, Hume Cronyn, and Audrey Totter.

  7. Actually, having made my little joke, I discover that FACELESS MAN is written by Jerome Bixby, a fairly respectable SF writer whose “It’s A Good Life” story was turned into a memorable TWILIGHT ZONE episode and who also wrote the script for Cahn-directed IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE.

  8. Joe Dante directed the remake of “It’s a Good Life” for Twilight Zone: The Movie. it’s one of his most delerious works.

    And speaking of delerium, My take on Clouzot’s L’enfer.

  9. I’d hesitate to say that Cahn’s ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU is good, but the first act or two approximate a PRC version of Val Lewton’s work. Kind of.

  10. Thanks for the recommendations!

    I watched Curse of the Faceless Man for my ongoing-but-somewhat-on-hold quest to see everything in the Gifford book, but I didn’t find anything much to say about it and most of it has escaped my memory already. It was a commendable attempt to do a slightly different kind of Mummy picture, but it didn’t show any of Bixby’s better qualities as writer. It was no It’s a Good Life.

  11. Great Clouzot piece, David E!

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