Archive for The Neanderthal Man

The Monday Intertitle: All Change

Posted in FILM, Painting with tags , , , , on September 9, 2013 by dcairns


I see the influence of Gustave Dore’s print of Newgate Prison — which also influenced a shot in CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

Well, it seems that just by being so excited by being in America that I forgot what day of the week it is, the Sunday Intertitle is now the Monday Intertitle on a full-time basis. And why not?



Very excited to get my hands on a copy of VARIETE, the seminal example of “the unchained camera” from Germany — nice to see E.A> Dupont at his best, too, a fiery fresh talent raging to explode the constraints of cinema, rather a tired old man than going through his paces on dreck like THE NEANDERTHAL MAN.


But I haven’t watched it yet — still getting caught up with Greenwich Mean Time and getting used to the sudden breezy weather this side of the pond. Soon… the glimpse I have had indicates swirling camera moves, bold graphic compositions, low-life wallowing worthy of Sternberg, and a disgraceful picture quality which needs to be corrected with at least a DVD release. One for Masters of Cinema or Criterion? Am I jumping the gun, demanding such treatment for a movie I haven’t even watched yet? Maybe, but I don’t think so…

Things I Read Off the Screen in Son of Dr. Jekyll

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2010 by dcairns

Part of my See Reptilicus and Die mission to see every movie shown in A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford. SON OF DR JEKYLL is a mostly-respectable B-movie with Louis Hayward in, unusually, a triple or maybe quadruple role, as Edward Jekyll, son of Jekyll-Hyde, as the transformed monstrous version, and as both his fathers (although they’re so fleetingly glimpsed it’s hard to be sure if we see both of them…)

Although set mostly in 1890, the movie features anachronistic newspapers with paparazzi-style photographs. This press persecution drives poor Jekyll towards nervous collapse (a somewhat uncomfortable echo of Hayward’s real mental state) as he tries to recreate his illustrious father’s experiments. A minor character here is named Rathbone, and Basil R in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is clearly a big influence here.

Mustn’t… black… out!

Disappointingly, Jekyll transforms only momentarily, and sleeps through the whole experience. A shame, since otherwise the plot produces some intrigue, but the marked lack of rampaging subhuman fiends rather lets the wind out of it. The script is by turns respectful of Stevenson’s original (although RLS doesn’t merit a screen credit, alas) and flippantly unfaithful: apart from giving Hyde a wife and child, the movie continues the adventures of Jekyll’s friends Utterson and Lanyon, but makes Lanyon into a villain, rather cheekily. Alexander Knox, dependably stolid, plays this role. National pride requires me to remark that Knox moved to Longniddry, just outside Edinburgh, late in his life.

Hayward goes wayward! A variation on the coloured makeup/coloured filters technique used in Mamoulian’s 1932 film allows the transformation to occur while the actor is in motion, although he loses consciousness midway. Mr Hyde sleeps through his own movie.

Screenwriter Jack Pollexfen wrote or co-wrote several mad scientist films, most of them worse than this — THE NEANDERTHAL MAN is astonishingly poor. But Edgar Ulmer’s THE MAN FROM PLANET X and DAUGHTER OF DR JEKYLL have their charm.

We watched this because Fiona was tired. It was this or HOUSE OF HORRORS, also featured in the Gifford. “I think I’m too weary to cope with Rondo Hatton’s face,” Fiona said. “Well, Louis Hayward’s face might be even more tiring,” I said thoughtfully, “It’s always moving about. Not like Rondo’s. Which is always just where you need it.”

Deeper Crimson

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2009 by dcairns

A quick update on my See Reptilicus and Die mission — a mission almost as old as Hitchcock Year and likely to run and run. I’m trying to view every film illustrated in Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, a prodigiously visual tome that haunted my childhood like a big green flapping bat. So how am I doing?

As you can see hereherehere and here, the titles previously listed as unseen are gradually changing to blood red, indicating that I’ve tracked them down and watched them. Since I haven’t written about every single film I’ve seen, a quick update might be in order, dealing with the more interesting cases.

THE NEANDERTHAL MAN is directed by EA Dupont, which is just bloody tragic. The auteur of VARIETY must have fallen not on hard times, but straight through them and into some monochromatic pit of hell where cineastes shovel shit while lashed by demons, huckster producers, and their consciences. The sabre-tooth tiger that isn’t anything of the kind is quite funny (Dupont boldly cuts from a real tiger in long-shot to a fanged glove puppet/stuffed toy close-up), and it was surprising to discover that this may have been the first movie monster to not only abduct a screaming starlet, but actually do the nasty with her, caveman style (all discretely off-camera). Even Beverly Garland, as cavebait, can’t save this cro-magnon crud.

THE MAGIC SWORD — Gifford has this Bert I Gordon sword and sorcery romp listed as ST GEORGE AND THE SEVEN CURSES which, given the presence of a Sir George and seven curses in the plot, suggests to me that this was the original intended title, although I can’t find any evidence it was released as such. Wikipedia offers ST GEORGE AND THE DRAGON and THE SEVEN CURSES OF LODAC as alternatives. This was pretty enjoyable! It has Estelle Winwood (she of the widely-spaced eyes that allow her to look you in the eye and see the back of your head at the same time) and Basil Rathbone, who isn’t yet having trouble with his lines (see QUEEN OF BLOOD for evidence of what time did to poor old Sherlock) and thus is great fun. Gary 2001 Lockwood makes a spirited, if very American, hero, and Maila Nurmi (Vampira!) pads out the cast as a hag (“Vamp — I mean, Maila, wanna be in a film?” “Hmm, what’s the role?” “Hag!” “I’ll do it!”). Apart from oddly adult stuff like the damsel’s vacuum-packed bosom and the blood pouring from the injured cyclops, this was inventive and crammed with fancy special effects, all of which were decently special, if cheap. No stop-motion creatures, but the dragon puppet breathed real fire, and the humans were endearing.

VOODOO MAN is a very silly Monogram horror with Lugosi, Zucco and Carradine. The triple-headed threat ought to make the film impressively busy and bursting with fun, but instead it rather illuminates just how very affordable those actors had become. However, the thing is daft as a brush and basically played for laughs, although I’m not sure anyone told Bela. By this point in his life, Bela seems permanently typecast as widowers, perhaps to explain his hangdog appearance. George Zucco runs a garage where he steers women to their dooms, and Carradine plays a simple-minded, simple-bodied (he looks like a stick drawing) henchman. The hero is a screenwriter who tries to pass his adventure off as a movie script in the last scene. Good luck with that, fella.

Boris models the new-look string beard.

THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES is one of Boris Karloff’s many many mad scientist parts, which seem to have been made from a kind of knitting pattern in the early forties — Boris invents something wonderfully beneficial to mankind, mankind (personified by some well-meaning dopes) screws things up and somebody gets killed, Boris gets embittered and crazy and uses his powers for evil. Nick Grinde directed at least three of these with exactly the same plot, and I watched them all. Now this one and THE MAN THE COULD NOT HANG and BEFORE I HANG have all merged into one super-mad scientist movie, which might be called THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES THEY COULD NOT HANG BEFORE. All three are engaging, sympathetic, nicely photographed, and boast committed, only slightly campy performances from the tireless star.

DR RENAULT’S SECRET is far better than I’d expected, with a lovely monster played by J Carroll Naish, product of Dr Moreau-like experiments in accelerated evolution (THE NEANDERTHAL MAN uses the same plot device in reveree, winding back the genetic clock on domestic cats and domestic help). And it’s based on the same Gaston Leroux tale as BALAOO THE DEMON BABOON, another Gifford special which I may have to go to Canada to see…

THE MYSTERY OF THE MARIE CELESTE is a British nautical suspenser from the early thirties, when Lugosi was full of vim and good prospects, even when his characters are not. It makes a change to feel sorry for the character rather than the actor. The movie was moderately interesting, partly because the British version of 30s racism is more bluntly-spoken than the Hollywood equivalent — there’s some very nasty language from some purportedly sympathetic characters.

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE, starring future director James GREAT GABBO Cruze, can be seen RIGHT HERE ~

It’s not a great work of art — mainly it’s quite funny, with Hyde looking like an unsavory Dudley Moore — but the filmmakers do a reasonable job of straightening out the story, condensing the action, and inserting a romantic lead, all of which actions would be repeated by subsequent adaptors. Stevenson’s story is an all-male affair, apart from the maid heard crying after Jekyll’s demise, prompting me to wonder if a version where Hyde’s secret life of vice took more of a Dorian Gray path might provide a new wrinkle on the story — something that’s sorely needed after a hundred or so different versions.


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