The Men Behind the Monsters

As my first post after the horror fest (12 classic horror films in four days), I would like to write about some of the recurring actors that I encountered. Some were old friends, like Claude Rains, while others were new faces.

Actor: Bela Lugosi
Filmography: Dracula / The Wolf Man
Previous Films Viewed: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Fond Memory: Listening to his inspired Count Dracula voice.

His performance as Count Dracula lived up to my expectations. It was a little weird watching this version having already seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Dir. Francis Ford Coppola), which I didn’t care for all that much. The difference in character is very different from film to film. The next Dracula film on my list to see if Werner Herzog’s adaptation. Kinski in the titular role sounds like a match made in heaven.

Personal Quote:

“Never has a role so influenced and dominated an actor’s role as has the role of Dracula. He [Dracula] has, at times, infused me with prosperity and, at other times, he has drained me of everything.”

Actor: Dwight Frye
Filmography: Dracula / Frankenstein / The Invisible Man / Bride of Frankenstein
Previous Films Viewed:
Fond Memory: Watching his performance as the crazed Renfield in Dracula.

I have quickly become a fan of Dwight Frye, who is aptly known as “The Man of a Thousand Deaths”. His roles included Renfield in Dracula, Fritz in Frankenstein, a news reporter in The Invisible Man, and Karl in Bride of Frankenstein; he’s quite the versatile actor, though he seems too type-cast as you can see in the following quote from Frye himself.

I’m wanting to see more films that he has been in, so any recommendations would be appreciated before I update my NetFlix queue.

Personal Quote:

“If God is good, I will be able to play comedy, in which I was featured on Broadway for eight seasons and in which no producer of motion pictures will give me a chance! And please God, may it be before I go screwy playing idiots, half-wits and lunatics on the talking screen!”

Actor: Edward Van Sloan
Filmography: Dracula / Frankenstein / The Mummy
Previous Films Viewed:
Fond Memory: Seeing his face popping in 1/4 of the films we watched.

Actor: Boris Karloff
Filmography: Frankenstein / The Mummy / Bride of Frankenstein
Previous Films Viewed: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Fond Memory: Fully understanding the references to Karloff in Arsenic & Old Lace.

Personal Quote:

“One always hears of actors complaining of being typed – if he’s young, he’s typed as a juvenile; if he’s handsome, he’s typed as a leading man. I was lucky. Whereas bootmakers have to spend millions to establish a trademark, I was handed a trademark free of charge. When an actor gets in a position to select his own roles, he’s in big trouble, for he never knows what he can do best. I’m sure I’d be damn good as little Lord Fauntleroy, but who would pay ten cents to see it?”

Actor: Claude Rains
Filmography: The Invisible Man / The Wolf Man
Previous Films Viewed: The Adventures of Robin Hood / Mr. Smith Goes to Washington / The Sea Hawk / Casablanca / Notorious / Lawrence of Arabia

Fond Memory: His incredible performance in Notorious.

I hadn’t realized until now how many Claude Rains films I’ve seen before. I loved his performance in The Invisible Man; the blend of madness and intelligence was brilliantly portrayed, I thought.

Personal Quote:

“Often we’d secretly like to do the very things we discipline ourselves against. Isn’t that true? Well, here in the movies I can be as mean, as wicked as I want to – and all without hurting anybody. Look at that lovely girl I’ve just shot!”

Actor: Vincent Price
Filmography: House on Haunted Hill / House of Wax / The Last Man on Earth
Previous Films Viewed: The Fly / The Three Musketeers / The Ten Commandments
/ Edward Scissorhands
Fond Memory: Playing Egghead in the 60’s Batman TV show.

Personal Quote:

“I sometimes feel that I’m impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know this sounds sick, but I love it.”


The Goonies

The Goonies
Directed By: Richard Donner
Starring: Sean Astin / Jeff Cohen / Corey Feldman / Jonathan Ke Quan / Josh Brolin

So I watched The Goonies last night (For the first time) Yes, I had never seen it before. I know, I know, how could I have missed such an instant classic, yada yada yada.

As I was telling a friend earlier, The Goonies grabbed my soul. From the start of the film and throughout their fantastic adventure, I was a Goonie.

I love how many actors in this film will become popular actors in the near future. They go on to such classics as Rudy, Stand By Me, The Fugitive, No Country for Old Men, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and the upcoming W., to name a few.

For a film that I initially thought was going to be a cheesy 80’s cult favorite, it was put together really well. For example, the editing of the opening scene with the Fratelli’s was really good. Not to mention the amazingly moody atmosphere. The Goonies walks a fine line between realism and children’s fantasy and succeeds admirably. It was a very evocative and nostalgic experience for me.

One of the coolest parts of the film for me was when a clip from the beginning of The Sea Hawk was shown, but the music played during the scene was actually from The Adventures of Don Juan, another Errol Flynn film. It was almost as cool as seeing a scene from The Three Musketeers in Singin’ the Rain. So with that rabbit-trail out of the way…

If you haven’t seen The Goonies, rent it, watch it, love it. Regardless of your age you may come away with an awesome experience.

Michael Curtiz

Michael Kurtiz is one of those directors who’s films have had a huge impact on my life growing up. Yesterday I watched Yankee Doodle Dandy with my family to celebrate the 4th of July. I was curious who directed the film, so I looked it up on IMDb. I found a treasure trove of classic films that I grew up with and am still discovering today. Here’s what I found, in chronological order:

1. Captain Blood (1935)
2. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
3. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
4. The Sea Hawk (1940)
5. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
6. Casablanca (1942)
7. Jim Thorpe: All American (1951)
8. White Christmas (1954)
9. We’re No Angels (1955)
10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960)
11. The Comancheros (1961)

My three favorites would be The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca, and Jim Thorpe: All American. Kurtiz apparently liked working with actors James Cagney, and especially Errol Flynn.

Born in Budapest, Michael Kurtiz has directed over 170 films, most of which were made in the United States. He won an academy award in 1944 for directing Casablanca.

Which of his films do you like the most, and what other films of his do I have to see?