Archive for Destiny

One out of one cats prefers it

Posted in Comics, FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2017 by dcairns

 

Wondering what to buy the cat in your life for Christmas? (Get that cat out of there!) Why not oblige the kitty with Fritz Lang’s DER MÜDE TOD? This 1921 silent German classic contains, along with the beneficial functional bacteria, all the key nutrients your cat needs, including Omega 6 fatty acids, and an umlaut. Also, the plastic casing seems to provoke some kind of fetishistic sniff/taste response.

I made a video essay for this one with Timo Langer, which I think turned out reasonably well, and you also get a fine Tim Lucas commentary track full of scholarly info. I was pleased to see we didn’t overlap too much, and he didn’t prove me wrong on too many key points, and while I felt he may have included one too many Spider-Man references, I top that in the shame stakes by dragging in the TV show Quantum Leap and the Bill Cosby film THE DEVIL AND MAX DEVLIN.

Empties

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on July 11, 2017 by dcairns

I love empty sets. They would take these stills for continuity reasons, but, like security camera footage, they always have an atmospheric quality. A little bleak, a little scary.

You may notice that the film is called DESTINY and the director is Siodmak (Robert). And you may know that no such film exists. What they were shooting was released as SON OF DRACULA, though in fact the main character is Dracula, not his son. He has no son.

It’s fun to imagine that Dracula might be as invisible to photography as he is to mirrors and shadows. So Universal, trying to record his exploits on celluloid, ended up with footage of a lot of empty rooms. They had to get John P. Fulton to put Drac in afterwards.

Or maybe it was just that Lon Chaney Jr. was off getting drunk somewheres.

My first thought on the trivial mystery of the non-existent movie DESTINY was, Of course! Screenwriter Curt Siodmak, the idiot brother, wanted a classier title and thought he might persuade Universal that DESTINY would be boffo box-office. What a maroon!

But I have a new-found respect for Curt after reading Donovan’s Brain. So I was pleased to find another explanation, or perhaps a deepening of the mystery.

This set photo is from HOUSE OF DRACULA, a much later entry in the Universal monster series (the last, in fact, not counting ABBOT & COSTELLO). I like how the bat-signal is apparently considered part of the set.

But look! This movie is also called DESTINY, according to the slate. Though it would be amusing to imagine Curt S. still gamely trying to get an evocative, poetic title accepted by the front office years later, he had nothing to do with this film, apart from having created Lawrence Talbot, the wolf man. So it seems like Universal always shot their horror sequels under this false title, maybe to control the publicity until they were ready for it, or something? I know there are a lot of people who know WAY more about this stuff than me, so maybe they can help solve the puzzle.

I have a lot more of these, if you like them.

Emordnilap

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , on November 16, 2011 by dcairns

EMORDNILAP is PALINDROME backwards, you see.

A palindrome isn’t, as one might assume, a nightmarish gladiatorial arena where unfortunate enemies of the state are thrown to a ravening Sarah Palin to be disemboweled in her slavering jaws. So we can relax. It’s merely a word that reads the same backwards as forwards. But it does, like many words with terribly precise meanings, get mushed around to merely mean “a backwards spelled word”.

Which leads me to director Reginald LeBorg, who helmed the above short subject. Poor Reggie was probably the least talented Viennese director in Hollywood, outclassed as he was by Lang, Wilder, Zinnemann… He may have been the least talented Viennese PERSON in Hollywood. When Duvivier’s compendium film FLESH AND FANTASY got chopped up, a spare episode was selected for expansion into feature form, and LeBorg got the job of shooting the added scenes for what became DESTINY. Given that he had a fraction of Duvivier’s vast budget, and a script that threw in three completely new and irrelevant opening sequences to pad things out, I guess he was seriously disadvantaged from the start, but let’s just say that the seams show…

But my point is, LeBorg was born Reginald Grobel. GROBEL. LEBORG. Think about it.

As for Yvonne DeCarlo, famed as she later would be for her Sondheim work, she didn’t seem to get much chance to sing in the Hollywood movies I’ve encountered her in, most notably CRISS CROSS (though she does essay a memorable mambo with Tony Curtis in that). So it’s nice to see her giving those lungs a work-out here.