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.”


Nashville Film Festival 2008

The Nashville Film Festival is coming up pretty soon. It will take place April 17-24. I’m planning on attending it for a few days during the weekend. I wish I could be there for more, but my class schedule doesn’t agree with this train of thought. Online tickets go on sale this Tuesday, so I’ve been perusing the offerings the many offerings this year.

The opening film, The Deal, sounds like it could be really good. It stars William H. Macy, Meg Ryan, and Elliott Gould. I’m also interested in the “State of the Critic” panel on Friday, which addresses the influence of (ahem) bloggers and what it means to be a film critic today.

Also on Friday is an intriguing film called American Teen, which apparently is a documentary that follows four senior students at a high school in Indiana.

We’ve also got Werner Herzog’s latest documentary entitled Encounters at the End of the World, which is centered on Antarctica. It’s Herzog; count me in.

Depending on when I leave the festival, Sunday has an interesting bag to choose from

Alexandria, directed by Aleksandr Sokurov (Russian Ark)
In the City of Sylvia, which sounds more like a short film than a feature-length one
In the Company of Actors; a behind the scenes look at theater and acting. Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving star; can you get better people to listen to?

Is anyone else going to be there?

Daniel Day Lewis and Roger Ebert


Yesterday was April Fool’s, so you can imagine all the lies and half-truths that found their way through the internet to (un)suspecting victims around the world. I found myself closing my RSS feeder in the afternoon for a while due to its rampancy. The ONE April Fool’s joke that actually got me for a moment was /Film’s post about Peter Weir remaking Werner Herzog’s infamous film Fitzcarraldo, starring Daniel Day Lewis in the lead role, with Mick Jagger on board for the score, and Werner Herzog himself in the producer’s chair. Now this is one fine April Fool’s joke; it’s not painfully obvious like the plethora of superhero movie posts. It blends AWESOME with UNBELIEVABLE in a great way. And coincidentally, I was just assigned to watch Fitzcarraldo in my European Cinema class last night.

Truthfully, I’m not absolutely convinced that it IS an April Fool’s joke. The main reason why I would think that it’s fake is the mention of Mick Jagger, which instantly reminds me of Jonny Greenwood working on There Will Be Blood last year, which also starred Daniel Day Lewis. If more news comes along, I’ll post it here. But until that happens, assume this is isn’t happening.


In other news, the great Roger Ebert announced yesterday that he’s back in the game:

Dear Readers:

I am at last returning to the movie beat. After my current stay at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I’m looking forward to opening night of my annual film festival at the University of Illinois on April 23, and I will resume writing movie reviews shortly thereafter.

Are you as bored with my health as I am? I underwent a third surgery in January, this one in Houston, and once again there were complications. I am sorry to say that my ability to speak was not restored. That would require another surgery. But I still have all my other abilities, including the love of viewing movies and writing about them. And at my side I have my angelic wife, Chaz.