Archive for Mogambo

Rogue Male

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , on July 15, 2016 by dcairns

Mogambo_Ava

Not the Geoffrey Household novel (highly recommended) which became the Fritz Lang movie MAN HUNT and was later filmed under its own name with Peter O’Toole (more on him in a moment). This Rogue Male, which I found in the Edinburgh Book Fair and snapped up on a whim, is the memoir of Geoffrey Gordon-Creed, a commando in Greece in WWII, leading resistance fighters behind enemy lines and blowing up an important viaduct. It’s a rollicking, amoral yarn and Gordon-Creed is a humorous, ruthless, scurrilous narrator.

There are a couple of movie anecdotes when we get to the author’s post-war life in Africa — one involves a bit of kis-and-tell told by John Loder about Ginger Rogers, which I would feel kind of grubby repeating.

The one about Ava Gardner is just about OK though, I think. Just this week I read about her three-in=a=bed romp with O’Toole (told you) and Richard Burton. The lusty Geoff bedded her shortly after she’d finished shooting MOGAMBO ~

My current love at the time was working on the film so I had occasion to visit her on location once or twice. Everyone on the set adored Ava — in fact the world appeared to be in love with her and some even reckoned her the most beautiful woman on this planet.

Anyhow, once filming was through many of the cast came up to Nairobi for some fun. I happened to be there and met Ava again, and the chemistry was mutual and compelling. She laid it on the line. If I so wished she would be my woman, and only mine, for one week. After that I would never hear from her again, nor would she expect to hear from me. No calls, no whining, no nothing. Finito!

‘You want? No?’

‘I want.’

She was the perfect lover and courtesan. Not another man even existed in the universe while I was in the saddle. I was privileged. In the end I had eight days.

But it did bother me a bit to think that I was related, ‘by injection’ as it were, to that cretin actor Mickey Rooney and that wop Frank Sinatra and certainly scores of others. But enough! She was memorable.

 

Things I read off the screen in “The Monster Maker”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by dcairns

The first “Things I Read” of 2011, and the first 2011 entry in my insane mission to see all the films illustrated in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies, the quest known to legend as “See REPTILICUS and Die.”

Not that there’s that much to read off the screen in this movie, but what there is, is choice. The movie is a PRC production (I always think that stands for “Poverty Row Company,” but no) starring Ralph Morgan (the Wizard of Oz’s brother) as a famous pianist, and J. Carroll Naish as a mad scientist obsessed with acromegaly. Obsessed to the point of keeping some in a bottle.

I always think of Naish as a sort of poor man’s Sam Jaffe, which would make him a very poor man indeed, but you have to say this, he gives it his all. He plays this dumb conception of a mad doctor with total conviction. This isn’t anything like as good a movie as DR RENAULT’S SECRET, another movie I discovered via the Gifford book, in which Naish played the experiment. Here, he’s in love with Morgan’s daughter, who resembles his dead wife. She won’t give him a tumble, so he doses Morgan with acromegaly, and then blackmails him for the cure: “You must tell your daughter to be very nice to me.”

Morgan refuses, kills Naish, gets the cure, and returns to his career with no legal consequences. Happy ending!

MAN IS WHAT HIS DUCTLESS GLANDS MAKE HIM — you know, that’s as true today as it was in 1944.

The fun stuff: Naish explaining to the daughter that her father’s career is at end, since not only have his fingers swollen to the size of Cumberland sausages, his appearance is no longer such that concertgoers would be happy looking at him; Morgan’s impersonation of the Elephant Man; and Morgan’s backstory — he’s not the real scientist at all. He took the guy’s place after killing him. This was revenge for the guy stealing his wife. His first reaction to that had been to acromegalize her so that no other man would want her, but she killed herself. Damn.

What’s frustrating, apart from the fact that the film isn’t any damn good, is the way it runs extremely mundane versions of familiar horror movie tropes — the woman with the uncanny resemblance to the dead wife isn’t a reincarnation, it’s just a wild coincidence.

Oh, and there’s a phony gorilla, but when it gets loose, it’s driven back into its cage by a handy German shepherd (a dog, not a Bavarian farmer). I found myself wondering why so many crappy horrors of the 40s feature obviously fake gorillas. Some kind of Gorilla Defamation League might be hypothesized: making great apes look bad. The one time a real gorilla turns up, in John Ford’s MOGAMBO, it is immediately shot (by second unit director Yakima Canutt).

Makeup is by Maurice Seiderman, “the best makeup artist in the world” according to Orson Welles. You can’t, using 1944 technology, successfully turn Ralph Morgan into Rondo Hatton, but he does his best. Director Sam Newfield assists by avoiding closeups for 99% of scenes. How do you think he got to be the most prolific director in Hollywood history? “Gotta get this scene in the bag FAST so I can hit the crap tables, baby! Despite the fact that I’m currently directing something called THE MONSTER MAKER, I feel lucky tonight!”