Dark Patroons & Hat Box Killers: 2015 The Great Villain Blogathon!

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IT’S HERE AGAIN… THAT TINGLING ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK BECAUSE THERE’S FOUL DEEDS AND MURDEROUS MACHINATIONS AFOOT…HOSTED BY SPEAKEASYSHADOWS & SATIN… AND SILVER SCREENINGS… THE GREAT VILLAIN BLOGATHON OF 2015!

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“Sometimes human places, create inhuman monsters.”
Stephen King, The Shining

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
Werner Herzog

“Monsters cannot be announced. One cannot say: ‘Here are our monsters,’ without immediately turning the monsters into pets.”
Jacques Derrida

DRAGONWYCK  (1946)

Vincent Price -had said- “I don’t play monsters. I play men besieged by fate and out for revenge…”

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Vincent Price is perhaps one of THE sexiest men in film. Eventually type cast albeit an icon of the horror film industry… enough of us are aware of his range of talent and his sophisticated manner. If I were to have met him, I would have swoon… and that’s not a lie. He possessed a unique sensuality both tragic and dynamic that just drew you in.

Price always could play ONE of the most cultivated, enigmatic and beguiling villains any time….

Dragonwyck
-Secret thoughts… That led to secret love… That led to rapture and terror!-

Gene Tierney as Miranda Wells:Nicholas – you do believe in God?”

Vincent Price as Nicholas Van Ryn: “I believe in myself, and I am answerable to myself! I will not live according to printed mottoes like the directions on a medicine bottle!”

The chemistry between Price and Tierney is authentic and captivating. When Miranda Wells feels humiliated by the gaggle of high class snobbish debutantes because she’s from the wrong end of the river, not from the Hudson but The Connecticut River bottom, and Nicholas tells her she’s better then all of them and asks her to dance. He seems so gentle and human… but he has a dark and villainous side!

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“You couldn’t help yourself any more than I”-Nicholas

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“What makes you think you’re so much better than I am!”

DRAGONWYCK 1946 was Vincent Price’s 18th film, after having appeared in The House of the Seven Gables 1940 as Shelby Carpenter opposite Gene Tierney in Laura 1944, Leave Her to Heaven 1945, right after he appeared as the cold blooded Dr. Richard Cross in Shock 1946.

Produced by Ernst Lubitsch uncredited and overseen by one of my favs– Writer/Director Joseph L Mankiewicz. this Gothic & dark romance is based on the novel by Anya Seton… With cinematography by Arthur C. Miller (The Ox Bow Incident 1943,The Razor’s Edge 1946, Whirlpool 1949, The Prowler 1951), Art Direction by Lyle Wheeler and Russell Spencer, Set Direction by the great Thomas Little. The lighting alone is a mixture of noir chiaroscuro and offers dramatic shadings of the best classical elements of horror. The narrative speaks of familial secrets, and twisted vengefulness not unlike Lewis Allen’s spooky debut masterpiece The Uninvited  1944.

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Added to the moodiness is the eerily haunting score by Alfred Newman with Orchestral arrangements by Edward B Powell. Edited by the keen eyes of Dorothy Spencer (Stagecoach 1939, The House Across the Bay 1940, Lifeboat 1944, The Ghost and Mrs.Muir, The Snake Pit 1948.) 

Costumes by Rene Hubert and Make Up by Ben Nye. The film bares shades of Hitchcock/de Maurier’s Rebecca 1940 and Robert Stevenson’s/Charlotte Brontë‘s Jane Eyre 1943. Even a bit of de Maurier’s tautly suspenseful My Cousin Rachel 1952 directed by Henry Koster and starring Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. The book is a hell of a good read if you enjoy Gothic melodrama.

Gene Tierney and Vincent Price reunite after having appeared in Otto Premingers‘ memorable film noir masterpiece Laura in 1944.

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Otto Preminger brings together these two fine actors in his noir masterpiece Laura 1944

Here-Gene Tierney plays Miranda Wells, Walter Huston is her devoutly christian working class father-Ephram Wells.

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Walter Huston as Ephram Wells reading from his bible to Miranda
CapturFiles_6 I thought so it's got spirits in it. A little bit. Even a little bit of evil cannot be good Mirdanda
Miranda takes a drink of wine. Her father reproaches her-“I thought so, it’s got spirits in it. A little bit. Even a little bit of evil cannot be good Miranda”– Her stifling life with her religious father pushes her further into the arms of Nicholas Van Ryn

This scene foreshadows the dangerous path the Miranda is willing to wander through, as she starts to break free of her puritanical upbringing and reach for a life of being a free spirit. Believing that Nicholas represents that freedom. But there is a hint of evil that her father can sense.

Vincent Price once again manifests a passionate yet conflicted antagonist Nicholas Van Ryn with a magnetism you cannot escape, yet you may despise his cruelty and his self indulgent murderous arrogance.

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“I must not feel like my life is finished as long as you are with me”-Nicholas
CapturFiles_41 You must never be afraid when you're with me Miranda
“You must never be afraid when you’re with me Miranda”

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Glenn Langan is the handsome yet vanilla Dr Jeff Turner, Anne Revere adds a depth of nurture as Abigail Wells-Miranda’s mother who is weary of her daughters intentions to marry such a powerful man.

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Spring Byington is one of the maids-Magda. Connie Marshall is the young melancholy Katrina Van Ryn, Henry Morgan is Bleeker one of the farmers who challenges Van Ryn and fights back against the antiquated laws.

Vivienne Osborne plays wife-Johanna Van Ryn. Jessica Tandy gives a marvelous performance as Miranda’s maid the feisty Peggy O’ Malley. Trudy Marshall is Elizabeth Van Borden. Reinhold Schunzel is Count de Grenier, Jane Nigh is Tabitha. Ruth Ford is Cornelia Van Borden, David Ballard is Obadiah. Scott Elliot is Tom Wells and Boyd Irwin is Tompkins.

DRAGONWYCK is a Gothic suspense melodrama in the grand classical style. It even brushes against the edges of the classic horror film not only because of the way it’s filmed, but there are certain disturbing elements to the story. The shadows and darkness that are part of the psychological climate work almost reminiscently of a Val Lewton piece. There’s even a pale reference to that of a ghost story that is concealed or I should say unrevealed, with the first Mrs.Van Ryn’s spirit playing the harpsichord, and the eerie phantom chords that add to the mystery and gloom that hang over the manor house.

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Katrine-“I don’t like it now The singing’s getting louder now, I’m afraid I’m afraid”

Ghostly Dragonwyck

With swells of atmospheric tension and darkly embroidered romance there’s just the right tinges of shadows and danger. A lush and fervent tale that combines tragic Gothic romantic melodrama with the legitimate themes of social class struggle wrapped within dark secrets and suspense.

As always, Price conveys a tragic pathos even as the story’s villain, he is a man who manifests layers upon layers of feeling. Brooding, charming, sensual, intellectual, menacing, passionate, conflicted, self-loathing, and ego-maniacal all at once.

One of my favorite roles will always be his embodiment of Corman/Poe’s Roderick Usher in House of Usher 1960.

Vincent Price in House of Usher, 1960.

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The film also offers us the sublime acting skill and divine beauty of- Gene Tierney as the heroine or damsel in peril, a simple farm girl living near Greenwich Connecticut, who dreams of the finer things in life, swept up by the allure of a fairy tale existence only to find out that her dream has become a nightmare.

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Once Miranda receives a letter inviting her to come and visit Dragonwyck, she is perhaps at once young and naive when she arrives at the austere place to be a companion to Van Ryn’s despondent daughter Katrine, a lonely sort of isolated child. First triangulated by Van Ryn’s over-indulgent wife Johanna, after her death, the two begin a whirlwind romance that leads Miranda to marry the imposing Nicholas Van Ryn.

Almost in the style of a Universal monster movie, the central focus is the mysterious mansion, surrounded by volatile thunderstorms and restless villagers who want to take action against their oppressor. The film works as a period piece seeming to possess an added heaviness due to the provincial settings and underpinnings of class unrest, which lends itself to the bleak mood.

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DRAGONWYCK’S villain or very human boogeyman is the inimitable & urbane Vincent Price who holds sway over the locals as the patroon–lord of the land, as well as master of all he surveys, and of course his new wife. Driven by his obsession to have a son. He is a brooding dark figure whose dissent into drug addicted madness comes to light like a demon who has escaped from a bottle.

CapturFiles_88 Neitzche quote here

Nietzsche quote

Van Ryn is vain and contemptuous, scornful, condescending and cruel. Eventually driven by his immense pride, love and desire… to murder his first wife who is in the way of his ultimate legacy.

DRAGONWYCK is an interesting film that belies any one genre. And as I’ve pointed out, beyond the dark melodramatic suspense elements, it’s every bit a horror film. And it is also the directorial debut of Joseph L. Mankiewicz 

Ghost Story

Set during the Nineteenth Century when parts of New York were still founded as feudal Estates. It’s a fascinating portrayal of the history of the 19th century Upstate New York Dutch colonies and their struggles between the rich and poor against the reigning yet dying tradition of aristocratic rule over the small family farms which were overseen by ‘Patroons’  A Patroon is the owner of the large land grants along the Hudson River. They are descendants of the original Dutch patroons… “and they’re terribly rich and elegant.“ -Miranda

Yet as in the case of Nicholas, they can be brutal and self-opportunistic land lords who collected the rent from these hard working, exploited and poor farmers.

This is what first impresses Miranda about Nicholas, his power and station in life. Tibby her sister tells her that she’s not anxious to leave home.

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Miranda says “That’s not fair, you know that I love you and pa, all of you and my home it’s just that I try to be like everyone else… and want what I’m supposed to want. But then I start thinking about people I’ve never known and places I’ve never been. Maybe if the letter hadn’t come I’d…. Oh I don’t know I must be loony.”

Nicholas Van Ryn is a brooding and powerful aristocratic patroon who runs all matters with an iron hand. In the Nineteenth Century the upstate New York counties were still dealing with a system run by these Patroons. There began a social uprising of the surroundings farmers who wanted more power over their land and a rule that would abolish the aristocracy that was a tribute to a dying past practice. Soon there would be an end to these ruling Estates.

As seen in Van Ryn’s maniacal demonstration of his being seated in an elaborate throne he remains poised while collecting the farmers rent. Henry Morgan plays the tough and prideful farmer Klaus who has brought nothing with him. “Not rent– nor tribute.”

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“I’m a free citizen I take my hat off for no one”

When Nicholas’ first wife cannot bare him a son as heir to carry on the Van Ryn name, the wealthy and wicked Nicholas Van Ryn secretly plans to poison her with the help of an Oleander plant. Setting his sights on the younger, more beautiful cousin Miranda.

Oleander

He then invites Miranda (Gene Tierney just naturally exudes a uniquely dreamy eyed splendor) to come and visit Dragonwyck. She is an innocent girl fascinated by the urbane Nicholas but by the film’s climax she becomes entrapped in the foreboding and bleak atmosphere of Dragonwyck, a place of secrets, sadness and insanity.

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Nicholas-“The Breeze must feel wonderful indeed on a face as beautiful as yours I imagine.”

Miranda is so taken with the idea of dancing the waltz and how fine a gentleman cousin Nicholas seems. Her father always reading passages from the bible, she hungers for adventure. Miranda craves the freedom to experience a better life.

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Vincent Price is incredibly handsome as Nicholas. Mysterious, his deep blue eyes crystallize   through the stark black and white film. He has a strong jawline, and possesses a vitality… at first he is so charming. Nicholas-“The Breeze must feel wonderful indeed on a face as beautiful as yours I imagine.”

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The first meal at Dragonwyck, is a grotesque scene in which his wife Johanna (Vivienne Osborne) shows herself to be a lugubrious sow, a glutton and a spoiled child who now bores and disgusts her husband. He tells Miranda, “To my wife, promptness at meals is the greatest human virtue.” 

Nicholas is already starting to reveal his cutting tongue by commenting on how his wife over eats and is not refined. A hint of his cruel nature.

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“I think I’ll have the bon bons before going to bed”
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Look at the detail of this frame. It’s almost the perfection of a Late 19th century painting

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Miranda meets the despondent Katrine… a hapless child

At dinner, Johanna begins to nag him about bringing home the pastries from New York, the Napoleons, she appears to be a glutton, and though very pretty, a most unattractive portrayal of her character is given for the narrative’s purpose of Nicholas justifiably ridding himself of her so that he might pursue Miranda. In contrast to Johanna’s piggishness, Miranda is given a clear bowl of broth for her supper. the scene is set up so we feel a bit of sympathy toward Nicholas.

As Johanna shoves another bon bon into her mouth…

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Cinematographer Arthur C. Miller frames the shot as Johanna is placed in between Nicholas and Miranda. His wife Johanna appears like a fairy tale character–the over-exaggerated plump wife who gorges herself on sweets while Nicholas and Miranda talk of love and loss. Miranda is wildly curious. He is withdrawn and pensive.

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Nicholas plays the harpsichord. Miranda listens contentedly then asks who the woman in the painting is. He tells her it’s his grandmother Aziel –“That’s a strange name… she looks like a frightened child.”

Miranda asks him to tell her more about his grandmother. Was it love at first sight?

Nicholas-“No Van Ryn does anything at first sight” Miranda-“Oh but she must have been happy to live here” Miranda smiles, her face a glow. Nicholas adds, “As it turned out it didn’t matter, soon after her son was born she died. She brought this harpsichord with her from her home. She played it always.”

Johanna “If you listen to the servants they’ll have you believe she still does!“ she laughs. But Nicholas quickly turns around to look at her, a dark shadow creeps along his brow. His eyes raised.

Nicholas-“fortunately we don’t listen to either the servants or their superstitions.”

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Magda (Spring Byington) tells Miranda about Nicholas’ grandmother from New Orleans, the woman in the portrait. That his grandfather never loved her, he never wanted her at all. he wanted their son. he kept her from him… He forbid her to sing and play. He broke her heart. And drove her….” Magda stops short…. “She prayed for disaster to come to the Van Ryns and she swore that when it came she’d always be here to sing and play… She killed herself in this room.”

Magda asks-“Miss Wells why have you come here? Do you think Katrine is in need of a companion? Miranda answers her, “Well that would be for her father and her mother to decide.”
Magda says, “Don’t you think she’s in need of a father and a mother… that was a silly question wasn’t it?” 

The meddling maid pierces Miranda’s innocence with her honesty like venom–causing a bit of shock on Miranda’s face that usually seems as tranquil as a quiet lake of sparkling water.

“You like it here?” Miranda answers–“Of course I do” Magda comments- “Course you do, you like being waited on, I could see tonight it was the first time. You like peaches out of season. You the feel of silk sheets against your young body. Then one day, with all your heart you’ll wish you’d never come to Dragonwyck…”

The handsome young Dr. Turner (Glenn Langan) comes to take care of Johanna who has taken sick to her bed.

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He and Miranda sit and talk by the fire. He tries to imply that living at Dragonwyck has changed her, he tells her that the last time he met her he felt like they had so much in common.. “Frankly right now I doubt you have any idea about the slightest thing to talk to me about.”

Johanna’s illness gets worse, of course we know Nicholas has poisoned her. Lying in bed she tells him that sometimes she thinks he hates her, but asks if they can go away together once she’s better. He says yes because he knows she’ll never get better. In fact she will never leave that bed alive.

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Continue reading “Dark Patroons & Hat Box Killers: 2015 The Great Villain Blogathon!”

MonsterGirl’s 13 Days of Halloween: Obscure Films Better Than Candy Corn!

13 Days of schlock, shock…horror and some truly authentic moments of terror…it’s my pre celebratory Halloween viewing schedule which could change at any time, given a whim or access to a long coveted obscure gem!

No doubt AMC and TCM will be running a slew of gems from the archives of Horror films to celebrate this coming Halloween! Films we LOVE and could watch over and over never tiring of them at all….

For my 13 days of Halloween, I thought I might watch a mix of obscure little gems, some vintage horror & Sci-Fi , film noir and mystery/thriller. Halloween is a day to celebrate masterpieces like The Haunting, The Tingler, House on Haunted Hill, Curse of The Demon, Pit and The Pendulum, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, Psycho just to name a few favorites.

But the days leading up to this fine night of film consumption, should be tempered with rare and weird beauties filled with a great cast of actors and actresses. Film’s that repulse and mystify, part oddity and partly plain delicious fun. Somewhat like Candy Corn is…for me!

I’ll be adding my own stills in a bit!…so stay tuned and watch a few of these for yourselves!

The Witch Who Came From The Sea 1976

Millie Perkins bravely plays a very disturbed woman who goes on a gruesome killing spree, culminating from years of abuse from her drunken brute of a father. Very surreal and disturbing, Perkins is a perfect delusional waif who is bare breasted most of the time.

Ghost Story/Circle of Fear: Television Anthology series

5 episodes-

The Phantom of Herald Square starring David Soul as a man who remains ageless, sort of.

House of Evil, starring Melvin Douglas as a vindictive grandpa who uses the power of telepathy to communicate with his only granddaughter (Jodie Foster) Judy who is a deaf mute. Beware the creepy muffin people.

A Touch of Madness, stars Rip Torn and Geraldine Page and the lovely Lynn Loring. Nothing is as it seems in the old family mansion. Is it madness that runs in the family or unsettled ghosts?

Bad Connection starring Karen Black as a woman haunted by her dead husband’s ghost.

The Dead We Leave Behind starring Jason Robards and Stella Stevens. Do the dead rise up if you don’t bury them in time, and can they speak through a simple television set.

Night Warning 1983

Susan Tyrrell plays Aunt Cheryl to Jimmy McNichol’s Billy, a boy who lost his parents at age 3 in a bad car wreck leaving him to be raised by his nutty Aunt. Billy’s on the verge of turning 17 and planning on leaving the sickly clutches of doting Aunt Cheryl and she’ll kill anyone who gets in the way of keeping her beloved boy with her always….Tyrrell is soooo good at being sleazy, she could almost join the Baby Jane club of Grande Dame Hag Cinema, making Bette Davis’s Baby Jane seem wholesome in comparison.

Also known as Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker...

Murder By Natural Causes (1979 Made for TV movie)

Written by Richard Levinson and William Link the geniuses who gave us Columbo, this film is a masterpiece in cat and mouse. Wonderfully acted by veteran players, Hal Holbrook, Katherine Ross and Richard Anderson and Barry Bostwick. Holbrook plays a famous mentalist, and his cheating wife has plans to kill him off.

Tension 1949

from IMDb -A meek pharmacist creates an alternate identity under which he plans to murder the bullying liquor salesman who has become his wife’s lover. Starring Richard Basehart, Audrey Totter , Cyd Charisse and Barry Sullivan

Messiah of Evil aka Dead People 1973

A girl arrives on the California coast looking for her father, only to learn that he’s disappeared. The town is filled with eerie people, and a strange atmosphere of dread. She hooks up with a drifter and they both uncover the true nature of the weird locals and what they’re up to. They learn the horrific secret about the townspeople…This film is very atmospheric and quite an original moody piece. Starring Marianna Hill, Michael Greer, Joy Bang and Elisha Cook Jr.

Devil times Five aka Peopletoys 1974

This film is a very unsettling ride about a bus load of extremely psychopathic children who escape after their transport bus crashes. Finding their way to a lodge, they are taken in by the vacationing adults and are eventually terrorized by these really sick kids. Claustrophobic and disturbing. Stars Sorrell Booke, Gene Evans. Leif Garrett plays one of the violently homicidal kids.

The Night Digger 1971

Starring the great Patricia Neal, this is based on the Joy Cowley novel and penned with Cowley for the screen by the wonderfully dark Roald Dahl, Neal’s husband at the time.

From IMDb -Effective psychological love story with a macabre twist not found in the original Joy Cowley novel. The dreary existence of middle- aged spinster Maura Prince takes an unexpected turn with the arrival of young handyman Billy Jarvis, but there is more to Billy than meets the eye. This well-crafted film, full of sexual tension and Gothic flavor, was Patricia Neal’s second after her return to acting, her real-life stroke worked deftly into the story by then-husband Roald Dahl. Written by Shane Pitkin

They Call It Murder (1971 Made for TV movie)

A small-town district attorney has his hands filled with several major investigations, including a gambler’s murder and a possible insurance scam. Starring Jim Hutton, Lloyd Bochner, Leslie Nielsen, Ed Asner and Jo Anne Pflug

A Knife For The Ladies 1974

Starring Ruth Roman and Jack Elam, there is a jack the ripper like killer terrorizing this small Southwest town. Most all the victims are prostitutes. A power struggle ensues between the town’s Sheriff and Investigator Burns who tries to solve the murders.

Born To Kill 1947

Directed by the amazing Robert Wise ( The Haunting, West Side Story, Day The Earth Stood Still )this exploration into brutal noir is perhaps one of the most darkly brooding films of the genre. Starring that notorious bad guy of cinema Lawrence Tierney who plays Sam Wild, of all things, a violent man who has already killed a girl he liked and her boyfriend. He hops a train to San Francisco where he meets Helen played by Claire Trevor who is immediately drawn to this dangerous man.

The Strangler 1964

Starring the inimitably imposing Victor Buono, who plays mama’s ( Ellen Corby/Grandma Walton) boy Leo Kroll, a psychopathic mysogynous serial killer, under the thumb of his emasculating mother. Kroll’s got a doll fetish and a fever for strangling young women with their own panty hose. The opening scene is chilling as we watch only Buono’s facial expressions as he masturbates while stripping one of the dolls nude by his last victim’s body. Part police procedural, this is a fascinating film, and Buono is riveting as Leo Kroll a psycho-sexual fetish killer who is really destroying his mother each time he murders another young woman. Really cool film by Allied Artist

Murder Once Removed (1971 made for tv movie)

A doctor and the wife of one of his wealthy patients hatch a plot to get rid of her husband so they can be together and get his money.Starring John Forsythe, Richard Kiley and Barbara Bain.

Scream Pretty Peggy (1973 made for tv movie)

This stars Bette Davis who plays Mrs. Elliot. Ted Bessell’s plays her son Jeffrey Elliot a sculptor who hires young women to take care of his elderly mother and his insane sister who both live in the family mansion with him. Also stars Sian Barbara Allen. What can I say. I love Bette Davis in anything, especially made for tv movies, where something isn’t quite right with the family dynamic. Lots of vintage fun directed by Gordon Hessler

The Man Who Cheated Himself 1950

A veteran homicide detective witnesses his socialite girlfriend kill her husband. Then what ensues is his inexperienced brother is assigned to the case.Starring Lee J.Cobb, Jane Wyatt and John Dall

The Flying Serpent 1946

Classic horror/sci fi flick that just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Almost as fun as The Killer Shrews.  Starring veteran actor George Zucco

The Pyjama Girl Case 1977

This more obscure Giallo film directed by Flavio Mogherini and starring one of my favorite actors Ray Milland, Also starring Mel Ferrer and the beautiful model/actress Delilah Di Lazzaro. I’ve left my passion for Giallo films in the dust these days, but I decided to watch one that was a little off the beaten track.

From IMDb- Two seemingly separate stories in New South Wales: a burned, murdered body of a young woman is found on the beach, and a retired inspector makes inquiries; also, Linda, a waitress and ferry attendant, has several lovers and marries one, but continues seeing the others. The police have a suspect in the murder, but the retired inspector is convinced they’re wrong; he continues a methodical investigation. Linda and her husband separate, and there are complications. Will the stories cross or are they already twisted together? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Cul-de Sac 1966

Directed by Roman Polanski starring Donald Pleasance and  Françoise Dorléac as Teresa

A wounded criminal and his dying partner take refuge in a sea side castle inhabited by a cowardly Englishman and his strong willed French wife. A bizarre dynamic unfolds as this eccentric couple once captives of the criminals at first, their relationship, strangely begins to evolve into something else.

Dr Tarr’s Terror Dungeon aka Mansion of Madness 1973

This is a mysterious and nightmarish excursion into “the inmates have taken over the asylum” theme. Based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Dr Tarr and Professor Feather

Blue Sunshine 1978

Three women are murdered at a party. the wrong man is accused of the crimes. yet still more brutal killings continue throughout the town. What is the shocking truth behind these bizarre epidemic of …people are losing their hair and turning into violent psychopaths?

Homebodies 1974

Starring Peter Brocco, Francis Fuller, William Hanson, the adorable Ruth McDevitt, Ian Wolfe and Paula Trueman playing elderly tenants who first try to thwart by rigging accidents, a group of developers from tearing down their building. Old homes and old people…It turns into murder! This is a wonderfully campy 70s stylized black comedy/horror film. I love Ruth McDevitt as Miss Emily in Kolchak : The Night Stalker series.

The ensemble cast is brilliantly droll and subtly gruesome as they try to stave off the impending eviction and relocation to the institutional prison life of a cold nursing home facility.

A modern Gothic commentary on Urban Sprawl, the side effects of Capitalism on the elderly and their dust covered dreams, and the fine balance between reverence for the past, and the inevitability of modernity.

The jaunty music by Bernardo Segáll and lyrics by Jeremy Kronsberg for “Sassafras Sundays” is fabulous!

The Evictors 1979

Directed by Charles B. Pierce whose style has somewhat of a documentary feel ( The Town That Dreaded  Sundown 1976 Legend of Boggy Creek 1972) This film has a very stark and dreading tone. Starring one of my favorite unsung naturally beautiful actresses, Jessica Harper ( Suspiria, Love and Death, Stardust Memories, and the muse Pheonix in DePalma’s Faustian musical Phantom of The Paradise ) and another great actor Michael Parks. A young couple Ruth and Ben Watkins move into a beautiful old farmhouse in a small town in Louisiana. The house has a violent past, and things start happening that evoke fear and dread for the newlyweds. Are the townspeople trying to drive them out, or is there something more nefarious at work? Very atmospheric and quietly brutal at times. Also stars Vic Morrow

Jennifer 1953

Starring Ida Lupino and Howard Duff. Agnes Langsley gets a job as a caretaker of an old estate. The last occupant was the owner’s cousin Jennifer who has mysteriously disappeared. Agnes starts to believe that Jennifer might have been murdered. Is Jim Hollis the man whom she is now in love with… responsible?

Lured 1947

Directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Lucille Ball, George Sanders and my beloved Boris Karloff!

There is a serial killer in London, who lures his young female victims through the personal ads. He taunts the police by sending cryptic notes right before he is about to murder again. Great cast includes Cedric Hardwicke, George Zucco and Charles Coburn...

Love From A Stranger 1947

A newly married woman begins to suspect that her husband is a killer, and that she is soon to be his next victim.Starring John Hodiak and and Sylvia Sidney

Savage Weekend 1979

Several couples head upstate to the country and are stalked by a murderer behind a ghoulish mask.

The Beguiled 1971

Directed by the great Don Siegel ( Invasion of The Body Snatchers 1956, The Killers 1964 Dirty Harry 1971 This stars Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page and Elizabeth Hartman. Eastwood plays John McBurney who is a Union soldier imprisoned in a Confederate girls boarding school.  A very slow yet tautly drawn web of psycho sexual unease forms as he works his charms on each of these lonely women’s psyche.

The Mad Doctor of Market Street 1942

An old forgotten classic horror, starring Lionel Atwill and Una Merkel. Atwill plays A mad scientist forced out of society when his experiments are discovered. He winds up on a tropical island, there by holding the locals hostage by controlling and terrorizing them.

The Man Who Changed His Mind original title (The Man Who Lived Again) 1936

Directed by Robert Stevenson. Starring my most favorite of all Boris Karloff, and Anna Lee of Bedlam

Karloff plays Dr. Laurence, a once-respected scientist who begins to delve into the origins of the mind and  soul connection.

Like any good classic mad scientist film, the science community rejects him, and so he risks losing everything for which he has worked, shunned by the scientific community he continues to experiment and further his research, but at what cost!…

The Monster Maker 1944

This stars J. Carrol Naish and Ralph Morgan. Naish plays Dr Igor Markoff who injects his enemies with the virus that causes Acromegaly, a deformity that enlarges the head and facial structures of his victims.

The Pyx 1973

I love Karen Black and not just because she let herself be chased by that evil Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror or dressed up like Mrs Allardice in Burnt Offerings. She’s been in so many memorable films, in particular for me from the 70s. Here she plays Elizabeth Lucy a woman who might have fallen victim to a devil cult. Christopher Plummer plays detective  Sgt. Jim Henderson investigating the death of this heroin-addicted prostitute. The story is told using the device of flash back to tell Elizabeth’s story.

Five Minutes To Live 1961

Johnny Cash, the immortal man in black, plays the very unstable Johnny Cabot, who is part of a gang of thugs who terrorize a small town. This is a low budget thriller later released as Door to Door Maniac. I could listen to Cash tune his guitar while drinking warm beer and I’d be satisfied, the man just gives me chills. Swooning little me…….!

The Psychic 1977

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In this more obscure EuroShocker, a clairvoyant… the gorgeous Jennifer O’ Neill, suffers from visions, which inspire her to smash open a section of wall in her husband’s home where she discovers a skeleton behind it.

She sets out to find the truth about how the victim wound up there, and if there’s a connection between their death and her fate as well!

Too Scared To Scream 1985

Directed by actor Tony Lo Bianco A killer is brutally attacking several tenants that live in a high rise apartment building in New York City.Mike Connors stars as Detective Lt. Alex Dinardo who investigates the killings. Also stars another unsung actress, Anne Archer, Leon Isaac Kennedy and Ian McShane

Violent Midnight 1963

An axe murderer is running loose in a New England town! Also known as Psychomania not to be confused with the fabulous British film of devil worshiping bikers who come back to life starring Beryl Reid. This film features Dick Van Patten, Sylvia Miles, James Farentino and Sheppard Strudwick. It’s got it’s own creepy little pace going for it.

When Worlds Collide 1951

Another classic sci fi world is headed toward destruction film, that I remember from my childhood. Starring Barbara Rush and John Hoyt, two of my favorite character actors. It’s a lot of fun to watch and a well made film that’s off the beaten path from… Forbidden Planet and War of The Worlds.

All The Kind Strangers  (1974 made for tv film)

Starring Stacy Keach, Sammantha Eggar, John Savage and Robby Benson

A couple traveling through a backwoods area are held hostage by a a group of orphan children who want them to be their parents. When ever an adult refuses to participate in the delusion, they are killed. Great disturbing made for tv movie.

The Todd Killings 1971

Directed by Barry Shear and starring Robert F. Lyons as Skipper Todd, a very sociopathic young man who holds sway over his younger followers like a modern day Svengali. Also starring Richard Thomas, Belinda Montgomery and the great Barbara Bel Geddes as Skippers mother who takes care of the elderly.

From IMDb-“Based on the true story of ’60s thrill-killer Charles Schmidt (“The Pied Piper of Tucson”), Skipper Todd (Robert F. Lyons) is a charismatic 23-year old who charms his way into the lives of high school kids in a small California town. Girls find him attractive and are only too willing to accompany him to a nearby desert area to be his “girl for the night.” Not all of them return, however. Featuring Richard Thomas as his loyal hanger-on and a colorful assortment of familiar actors in vivid character roles including Barbara Bel Geddes, Gloria Grahame, Edward Asner, Fay Spain, James Broderick and Michael Conrad.” Written by alfiehitchie

This film has a slow burning brutality that creates a disturbing atmosphere of social and cultural imprisonment by complacency and the pressure to conform, even with the non conformists.

Todd almost gets away with several murders, as the people around him idolize him as a hero, an not the ruthless manipulating psychopathic killer that he is. Frighteningly stunning at times. One death scene in particular is absolutely chilling in his handling of realism balanced with a psychedelic lens. This film is truly disturbing for it’s realism and for a 1971 release.

To Kill A Clown 1972

Starring Alan Alda and Blythe Danner. Danner and Heath Lamberts play a young hippie couple who couple rent a secluded cabin so that they can try and reconnect and save their marriage.

Alan Alda plays Maj. Evelyn Ritchie the man who owns the property and who is also a military raised- sociopath who has two vicious dogs that he uses as an extension of his madness and anger.

Provocateur Roger Vadim: Svengali of the New Wave Cinema of Sensuality: Pretty Maids All In A Row 1971 Part II ” I Wonder Why do they always seem to die with a smile on their face?”

Roger Vadim’s Pretty Maids All In A Row 1971

A Film about DUALITY….notice the split screen

A new era of free love ushers in an emancipated kind of woman. Betty Smith ready to try anything! The big red book or TANTRIC SEX…

Prelude to the grooming of Miss Smith: She’ll be ready to deflower Ponce

Tiger’s mock sexual overture toward the smitten Betty Smith…

Jealousy rears it’s ugly and dangerous head….A maid wonders…

The Garden of Earthly Delights

How fast would it take to carry a body up the stairs and through the hall in order to dump a pretty maid in the wash room, without being seen?

Deputy Grady carries Miss Craymire through the school to illustrate a point

The inept Chief Poldaski fouls up once again….Back on traffic duty….

Vadim’s tongue in cheek dark humor is ever present in the film….

Just adding insult to Betty’s frustrated sexual encounter with Tiger McDrew. The sexual double entendre appears to her in a sign….Put A Tiger In Your Tank!

Ponce discovers a truth about his mentor and hero. A picture says 1,000 words.

Male posturing…the subtle roll of the shoulders, the head tilted to one side, all to intimidate this young boy who has stumbled into the Tiger’s Den

The Night and Poldaski’s happy flashlight.

No matter how horrible the crime, the film never shows you the actual killings. It is only what remains after the murders have taken place. The violence is suggested.

Ponce discovers more about his hero… he’s not the good man he thought…

Let The Dark Side Come Over…

The lighting, using gobo filters that create these hazy psychedelic balls of light balancing on the pure blackness of the screen lit behind Hudson and Carson create a claustrophobic uncertainty, like spheres of menacing hostility, or the unknown drowning out the senses. Again a very interesting technique used in the 70s

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Roger Vadim and A Few of His Women…

Vadim and Jane Fonda on the set of Barbarella

Vadim and Bardot

Bardot on the set of Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) 1973

Annette Stroyberg



A portrait of John Milton

In Pretty Maids All In A Row, Ponce and Substitute Teacher Betty Smith both read from Milton’s Paradise Lost. The telling of how Satan fell from grace, Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, the angels fought amongst each other and innocence becomes sacrificed as just part of the epic tale.

John Milton’s Paradise Lost

Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden

William Blake’s painting depicting Paradise Lost

Bosch’s Decent into Hell, form the last panel of Garden of The Earthly Delights

Monsters yelling and gnawing at bowels…

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Other Salient Points Of Interest:

Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin in Vadim’s 1973 exploit Don Juan (Or if Don Juan Were a Woman) 1973

Whether or not Vadim is a fetishizing, womanizing soft porn exploitation provocateur, it’s critical that people study his films regardless, because there in lies a lot of vital information that can be digested and used to further the discourse about sexism, misogyny and the social constructs of gender. Shutting down the conversation because we think he is objectifying the female body and perhaps glorifying the sexualization of young women stops us from even asking the questions.

Vadim had an obvious fixation with the Don Juan Mythos as he cast his ingénue Brigitte Bardot in Don Juan ( Or If Don Juan Were A Woman?) 1973. He seems to ponder the question of love and power. Bardot plays Jeanne a woman living in Paris who believes she is the reincarnation of Don Juan.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The most influential version of all is Don Giovanni, the opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, first performed in Prague in 1787

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A young and handsome Rock Hudson….

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There is much about the film that alludes to elements of Don Juan. Here is a little bit of extra info:

Molière’s & Byron’s Don Juan Mythos

While Lord Byron’s poem satirizes the dreaming romantic anti-hero, Molière speaks more to the heart of Tiger McDrew who does not believe in loving just one beauty, that it would be almost a crime against nature not to succumb to any beauty that presents itself.

Don Juan by Haidee: 1873

Errol Flynn as Don Juan

From Wiki:

“The story of Don Juan first appears in an old Spanish legend concerning a handsome but unscrupulous man who seduces the daughter of the commander of Seville and then, when challenged, kills her father in a duel. In the original version, Don Juan mockingly invites the statue of the father to a feast; the statue appears at the banquet and ushers Don Juan to hell. There are many re-tellings of this story in drama and theatre; Mozart used the story for his opera Don Giovanni. (1787)”

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A Little About Roger Vadim:

In Paris, Vadim attended the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt, there he met film director Marc Allegret. Because of his association with Allegret, Vadim wound up meeting various filmmakers and writers particularly the incredible Jean Cocteau (Beauty & The Beast 1946 and Les Enfants Terribles 1950)

as well as Jean Genet, and Andre Gide.Vadim was exposed to a very progressive salon of creative artists, musicians, bohemians, surrealists. An avant-guarde crowd of post modern intellectuals. Pablo Picasso, Erik Satie, Proust, Amedeo Modigliani, and Édith Piaf were among them.

Most notable is the fact that it was Allegret who introduced Vadim to sixteen-year-old Brigitte Bardot, who would appear in several of Allegret’s films before attaining stardom with the success of And God Created Woman in 1956 with Vadim. Bardot and Vadim got married in 1952.

Bardot dancing on the table in And God Created Woman

Before his divorce from Fonda, Vadim had relocated to Hollywood. He remained there so that he could direct Hudson in Pretty Maids All in a Row.

Vadim is considered an unapologetic womanizer. He spent the rest of the 70s writing two memoirs based on the infamous love affairs he had with Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Annette Stroyberg and Jane Fonda. Memoirs of the Devil and Bardot Deneuve Fonda.

Vadim fathered a child with Deneuve. Fonda eventually denounced their film collaborations, saying they were exploitative. Atroyberg appeared in Vadim’s adaptation of the Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s classic vampire story Carmilla, which he entitled Blood and Roses.

Both Fonda and Bardot appeared in Poe’s adaption of Spirits of The Dead, in which Vadim, Louis Malle and Fellini each directed  the film’s 3 small vignettes.

Vadim was responsible for discovering Brigitte Bardot , casting her and her beautiful posterior in his 1956 sexually charged And God Created Women which was famous for the scene where Bardot dances barefoot on top of the table, showing little nudity, yet showcasing her sensuality.

The press became fixated on the sexual expressiveness of Bardot’s character which created the critical argument about what is art? and what is pornography? Of course like every good controversy, the debate that was sparked made the film an international success.

Interesting enough, as I make the correlation between Tiger McDrew’s character and Svengali, And God Created Women put Vadim on the defensive as a ‘Svengali’ who was exploiting the young naive Bardot. Perhaps, some of Tiger McDrew is Vadim working out his historical demons on film, as many artists are apt to do.

This is how Vadim responded to the allegations:

“I did not invent Brigitte Bardot. I simply helped her to blossom, to learn her craft, while remaining true to herself. I was able to shield her from the ossification of ready-made rules which in films, as in other professions, often destroy the most original talents by bringing them into line.”

One thing that Vadim is actually credited for at least focusing on Bardot’s natural beauty instead of relying on the dramatic artifices of fashion, hair styles and elaborate make-up or lighting to enhance a look that is unreal. It is this naturalism that directors like Jean-Luc Godard and other New Wave directors began to utilize in their films. Vadim is considered one of the primary explorers of the New Wave movement in film.

He had been married to Jane Fonda and was now crushed by their divorce also having directed her in the segment where Fonda plays the sensual yet cruel, Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the Poe adapted film Spirits of The Dead (1968), Pretty Maids was filmed just coming off the success he had with the kittenesque Fonda in Barbarella (1968), the cult classic based on the French science fiction comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest.

The dreamy danish beauty Annette Stroyberg

Vadim went on to do Une femme fidèle 1976 with the beautiful Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle 1974, another guilty pleasure of mine) and then he made a very obscure film in 1980, I remember it leaving an impression on me. The film was called, Night Games.

It was a time during the 80s where some of the sensuality in films was branching out into more of a mood that was stylistically slick, perhaps quasi pulp /neo noir & fantasy in tone. Night Games 1980 with Cindy Pickett, was a very mysterious, fetishistic and romantic piece of work.

The character Valerie is very traumatized by a past rape. She meets a man who begins to open her back up by wearing an erotically surreal bird costume, not unlike the French character that Georges Franju adapted to the screen in 1963 Judex.

George Franju’s hero Judex

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I know a lot of people think that Vadim is a sexist bastard which he undoubtedly is, but his sense of erotic style touches me in a way not unlike Anaïs Nin if she had set out to be a film maker instead of a writer, perhaps she’d me more empathetic toward women in her treatment of their sexual identities, but she too objectified them one could argue just as lovingly, in her written work, which I am a huge fan of still. I wonder if any University film or literature professors have made any correlations between the eroticism of Nin and Vadim. I would be interested to know that. My first job was working in a library. I would sneak up to the stacks so I could privately read Delta of Venus and Little Birds. I later named a song Little Birds and Ladders To Fire

Nin however did appear in the Kenneth Anger film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) as Astarte

Anaïs Nin

Interesting that Nin herself had an elaborate love life, where she set something up called The Lie Box, having been married to 2 men at the same time.

[Anaïs] would set up these elaborate facades in Los Angeles and in New York, but it became so complicated that she had to create something she called the lie box. She had this absolutely enormous purse and in the purse she had two sets of checkbooks. One said Anaïs Guiler for New York and another said Anaïs Pole for Los Angeles. She had prescription bottles from California doctors and New York doctors with the two different names. And she had a collection of file cards. And she said, “I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight.” FROM WIKI: personal life

The explosion of the feminist movement in the 1960s gave feminist perspectives on Nin’s writings of the past twenty years, which made Nin a popular lecturer at various universities; contrarily, Nin disassociated herself from the political activism of the movement.

FROM WIKI: Later life and legacy

Anais Nin in the 70s NYC

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There is a question as to whether or not the character of Tiger McDrew is a hero, or anti-hero?

Hero or Anti-hero

There is an aspect to Tiger McDrew where I’ve read that he’s a likable character. A sort of anti-hero. Although there was the potential for McDrew to be carved out of some depth, to me, he was never a likable character. He was opportunistic and a rampant narcissist who was completely motivated by self satisfaction and self preservation. He is neither funny, kind, nor can I relate to him. He is not a Hannibal Lecter.

Lord Byron’s poem begins “I want a hero”; that is, “I need a hero for my story.”

Is Don Juan a hero or an anti-hero? Has Byron changed him from the original Don Juan in the same way that Vadim has with his reworking of the original story?

What people say about Tiger McDrew is that he dares to do what he wants. He is a libertine. There is forgiveness for his infidelities, even though he is corrupting and despoiling young girls. I’ve also read that it’s one of the first funny serial killer movies, in a sense that’s very true. But I stop at the point where viewers describe their affinity to McDrew saying that they admire him. He is a sort of homicidal Don Juan who elicits not only sympathy but kudos for getting away with lechery and murder. Is it because he is a lone yet liberated thinking man who is only doing what other men would not dare do?

Byron’s Don Juan is possibly a parody of the romantic hero who is not the aggressor yet rather he is acted upon.  He is merely clay in a wiley woman’s hands. He loses all his dignity and power.

McDrew is a type of hero at the end to be feared and respected, nevertheless yet pathologically compliant, which might create something attractive about him. And is he in part likeable for the very things that make him NOT a traditional hero?

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The Educated Intellectual Woman

She tears away any symbolic remnants of her intelligence, in order to become the ‘object’ of sexual desire…

In terms of the Don Juan from Lord Byron’s imagination, he also satirizes the educated woman. Mary Wollstonecraft ‘Shelley’, whom the poem might have been based upon, after arguing for a better education for women, had to reassure her readers that they need not fear that women would then become “masculine.”

In Pretty Maids, the one intellectual woman in the film is Miss Betty Smith. She is also the one who seduces young Ponce. Is this Vadim’s view point also that by Betty being the aggressor, it gives her a certain power, which transposes her into a man?

Byron’s treatment of the educated woman could be perceived as hostile. Byron denied any connection to his attitude toward his wife Mary Shelley, from whom he separated after only one year of their marriage.

What is supposed to be satirical about Byron’s poem is the all too common assumption that the educated and intellectual woman will be aggressive and domineering. Look at how the press and mainstream media, treat Hillary Clinton. The focus is on her pant suits, not her critical thoughts.

In Byron’s epic poem Don Juan (1821) he presents a satirical young lover who is a romantic dreamer. Byron pokes fun at philosophical and metaphysical conceptions of life and love

Byron tells us that we would be better off living in our physical reality, not unlike McDrew’s mentality.

Byron also suggests that ‘Platonic idealism’ is not based in reality, advocating that physical pleasure is the only reality and that such idealized thoughts about of devotion to love are again hypocritical, leading to self-deception. Like a mask, you wear, in order to hide your true nature.

“Pleasures a sin…and sometimes sin’s a pleasure” – Lord Byron

Portrait of Lord Byron by Richard Westall

It’s a very cynical view of love. Perhaps Vadim too was counseling us much in the same way. That in reality love is just a diversion of mutual pretense, leading up to the one true objective, to pleasure one’s self. To feed one’s desire.

Byron’s poem might be commendable for the writer’s honesty, railing again false virtue and his perceived hypocrisy of fidelity.

Among the best known works about Don Juan are Molière’s play Dom Juan ou le Festin de pierre (1665),

From Wiki:

“Don Juan is a rogue and a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women (mainly virgins) Later, in a graveyard, Don Juan encounters a statue of Don Gonzalo, the dead father of a girl he has seduced, Doña Ana de Ulloa, and impiously invites the father to dine with him; the statue gladly accepts. The father’s ghost arrives for dinner at Don Juan’s house and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the graveyard. Don Juan accepts and goes to the father’s grave, where the statue asks to shake Don Juan’s hand. When he extends his arm, the statue grabs hold and drags him away to Hell.”

Do we know where Tiger McDrew goes in the end? Is it Brazil or Hell?

Rebel Angels battling between Heaven and Hell…

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Excerpts from:Roger Vadim’s autobiography entitled

Memoirs of The Devil when discussing the casting of the Pretty Maids,

Vadim recalls the casting of the students in Pretty Maids All in a Row: “…I had auditioned over two hundred boys and about the same number of girls. Most of the girls who applied in the roles of high school alumni were aspiring actresses, though some were local students who merely found the whole thing amusing.”

He also mentions that not one of the “pretty maids” wound up becoming a major star but a few went on to do several exploitation and cult films: Some below-

Brenda Sykes was in Black Gunn 1972 and Mandingo 1975, Margaret Markov wound up in Black Mama, White Mama 1972 and The Hot Box 1972, Joy Bang was in Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam 1972Aimee Eccles was in The Concrete Jungle 1982 (an favorite cult/exploitation film of mine) and Group Marriage 1973 and Gretchen Burrell, wound up being one-time girlfriend of recording artist Gram Parsons.

Aimee Eccles in Group Marriage Stephanie Rothman film

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Vadim also specifically ordered the wardrobe department to dress the girls in micro skirts and tight fitting shirts. Mostly all were NOT wearing bras in Pretty Maids.

Vadim recalls again in his autobiography, “When I started shooting Pretty Maids All in a Row for MGM-

“There was not a single other film being made in any of the six main Los Angeles studios. It was a strange paradox that the only director working at that time in the legendary stronghold of the cinema was a Frenchman. The vast MGM studio complex was like some western ghost town. Three thousand people were still employed in the offices and in the workshops, but the famous faces that had set the world dreaming were no more than shadows, the machinery continued to turn, but to no purpose, like a train running along the track when the driver is dead…Apart from one or two television series, my film was the only production at the time and had three thousand MGM people working on it…Only in Russia have I seen such a cancerous bureaucracy.”

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MISOGYNY:

“[Misogyny] is a central part of sexist prejudice and ideology and, as such, is an important basis for the oppression of females in male-dominated societies. Misogyny is manifested in many different ways, from jokes to pornography to violence to the self-contempt women may be taught to feel for their own bodies.”
Michael Flood is an Australian sociologist at the University of Wollongong. Flood gained his doctorate in gender and sexuality studies from the Australian

Flood defines misogyny as the hatred of women, and notes:

“Though most common in men, misogyny also exists in and is practiced by women against other women or even themselves. Misogyny functions as an ideology or belief system that has accompanied patriarchal, or male-dominated societies for thousands of years and continues to place women in subordinate positions with limited access to power and decision making. […] Aristotle contended that women exist as natural deformities or imperfect males.

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Also an easy correlation to be made is Tiger McDrew to that of Casanova…

Giacomo Casanova 18th century womanizer who wrote about his exploits

“I begin by declaring to my reader that, by everything good or bad that I have done throughout my life, I am sure that I have earned merit or incurred guilt, and that hence I must consider myself a free agent. … Despite an excellent moral foundation, the inevitable fruit of the divine principles which were rooted in my heart, I was all my life the victim of my senses; I have delighted in going astray and I have constantly lived in error, with no other consolation than that of knowing I have erred. … My follies are the follies of youth. You will see that I laugh at them, and if you are kind you will laugh at them with me”- Casanova’s opening memoirs.

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While not killing his wives, McDrew does have a proclivity toward strangling his female lovers like that of the legendary Bluebeard….

John Carradine in Edgar Ulmer’s version of Bluebeard 1944

BLUEBEARD

From Wikipedia:

“Bluebeard” (French: La Barbe bleue) is a French literary folktale written by Charles Perrault and is one of eight tales by the author first published by Barbin in Paris in January 1697 in Histoires ou Contes du temps passé. The tale tells the story of a violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to avoid the fate of her predecessors. Gilles de Rais, a 15th-century aristocrat and prolific serial killer, has been suggested as the source for the character of Bluebeard as has Conomor the Accursed, an early Breton king. “The White Dove,” “Mister Fox” and “Fitcher’s Bird” are tales similar to “Bluebeard”.

Notice how all the nicknames for Bluebeard, bear the moniker of an animal, Fox, Bird, Dove, and of course there is our Anti-Hero, Antagonist ‘Tiger’ McDrew.

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And of course, the idea that Tiger McDrew held sway over these young maids by power of persuasion as if by some gift of mesmerizing them into his bed, and under his control….Vadim was accused of being a Svengali when it came to his young bride Brigitte Bardot

SVENGALI

John Barrymore & Marian Marsh in 1931 Svengali

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SOME CRITICAL REVIEWS:

Roger Ebert wrote,

“One thing you can say about Pretty Maids All in a Row. Rock Hudson sex comedies sure have changed since Pillow Talk…The movie itself is, finally, embarrassing. It’s embarrassing because Vadim’s personal hang-ups don’t fit the nature of his material, and so he tries to bend things.”

David Thomson wrote in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, calling Pretty Maids All in a Row

“a film of disturbing insights in that its central character – an amused Rock Hudson (once all that Universal allowed to the lovelorn) – does not separate his f#cking of campus nymphets from his murder of them. Too unreal to know in bed, these chicks are plastic enough to be disposed of. The sexual idea in Pretty Maids All in a Row has become psychotic, acting out the dismissal of human reality that has always been implied in the method. And yet the film is tritely playful and the succession of postpubic children are gilded by the loving photography of that veteran, Charles Rosher, who once caught the rapture of Janet Gaynor in Sunrise.”

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I also find a connection with certain aspects of Beaudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil

The Flowers of Evil
Charles Baudelaire
Spleen and Ideal, Part I

Excerpts from http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/flowersofevil in quotes:

I use this correlation to try and distill even more of Tiger McDrew’s character and what he might be thinking. How he sees himself in relationship to and his participation in the human condition.The reality of death, and who must be it’s sacrificial victim. Is he the arm of the devil, does he truly believe in ‘free love’, and free will or as duplicitous as he is, can it merely be part of the contradiction, that he feels trapped by role as family man. He has a voracious appetite for sex. I could make the argument again, that it is an addiction. Why else would he keep risking everything once the police are on the scene and investigating the first murder. He is a family man with desires that don’t fall in line with society’s rules. Therefore he must destroy the very thing that draws him in, and threatens his other life. His world is filled with sin, and beauty and evil. Is he not the calibrator of all three?Is he not the fine line between the contradiction?

“Baudelaire says “One side of humanity reaches for fantasy and false honesty, while the other exposes the boredom of modern life. ”

The film is a condemnation of modern life. The hypocrisy of ‘NORMAL’

Baudelaire famously begins The Flowers of Evil by personally reaching out to his reader as an accomplice to the evolution of his poetry:

“Hypocrite reader–my likeness–my brother!” In “To the Reader,” The narrator evokes a world inhabited by degradation and sin… hypocrisy, and decay. A world that is dominated not by God but by Satan.

Baudelaire, claims that it is the Devil and not God who controls our actions. That we are the puppets and Satan pulls the strings. That we have no free will of our own. That we are bound for  hell, by our self destructive instincts.

(Is McDrew not a distorted arm of a vengeful law, that inflicts its judgement on the girls, because of their promiscuity and their threat to break up the conventional life he has with his wife? To reveal his false honesty, his boredom with modern life?

And that human beings are merely ‘instruments of death.’ “more ugly, evil, and fouler” than any monster or demon.”from the poem.

Tiger McDrew an instrument of death…an arm of the law that exposes the boredom of modern life?

“The narrator claims that he and the reader complete this image of humanity: One side of humanity (the reader) reaches for fantasy and false honesty, while the other (the speaker) exposes the boredom of modern life.”

(The albatross could be the girls, threatening to chain Tiger to a commitment. Yet they are things of beauty,at times)

“The speaker continues to rely on contradictions between beauty and unsightliness in “The albatross.” This poem relates how sailors enjoy trapping and mocking giant albatrosses that are too weak to escape. Calling these birds “captive kings,” the speaker marvels at their ugly awkwardness on land compared to their graceful command of the skies. Just as in the introductory poem, the speaker compares himself to the fallen image of the albatross, observing that poets are likewise exiled and ridiculed on earth. The beauty they have seen in the sky makes no sense to the teasing crowd: “Their giant wings keep them from walking.”

(I find yet another correlation between this piece of work by Beaudelaire, and the film. McDrew finds the girls beautiful to a point, yet he sees them as limited. Like ‘captive queens’, they are only good for that one moment in time, when they are having sex with him, or “the graceful command of the skies.” The girls are his Albatross.)

In the poem”Benediction,” he says: “I know that You hold a place for the Poet / In the ranks of the blessed and the saint’s legions, / That You invite him to an eternal festival / Of thrones, of virtues, of dominations.”

(Tiger has a sense of privilege to savor the secrets of the world in which he has created outside him marriage, and the tenets of society. He defines beauty, he chooses who he wants to sleep with. Who are the ‘exceptionally gifted’ Tiger has a God complex, and thinks of himself as God like.)

The divine power that Beaudelaire writes about in another of his poems as part of  Flowers of Evil, called  “Elevation,” has the narrator’s rising like a god to the throne of heaven.

“His ascendancy is compared to the poet’s omniscient and paradoxical power to understand the silence of flowers and mutes. His privileged position to savor the secrets of the world allows him to create and define beauty.”

(We know from his pedantic mentorship and the evidence of his philosophy documented on tape that McDrew considers himself a great thinker, social innovator and perhaps a sexual being like Beaudelaire’s poet, who’s aestheticism elevates him to levels of sensual ascendancy. The pretty maids are his flowers of evil, the temptations that will drag him to hell.)

” A MYTHICAL WORLD OF HIS OWN CREATION” ” LAND OF FREEDOM AND HAPPINESS” There, all is nothing but beauty and elegance, / Luxury, calm and voluptuousness.”

From “The Head of Hair and Exotic Perfume”

Baudelaire’s poetry has often been described as the most musical and melodious poetry in the French language.

“The Flowers of Evil evokes a world of paradox already implicit in the contrast of the title. The word “evil” (the French word is “mal,” meaning both evil and sickness) comes to signify the pain and misery inflicted on the speaker, which he responds to with melancholy, anxiety, and a fear of death.”

“But for Baudelaire, there is also something seductive about evil. Thus, while writing The Flowers of Evil, Baudelaire often said that his intent was to extract beauty from evil. Unlike traditional poets who had only focused on the simplistically pretty, Baudelaire chose to fuel his language with horror, sin, and the macabre. The speaker describes this duality in the introductory poem, in which he explains that he and the reader form two sides of the same coin.”

“Together, they play out what Baudelaire called the tragedy of man’s “twoness.” He saw existence itself as paradoxical, each man feeling two simultaneous inclinations: one toward the grace and elevation of God, the other an animalistic descent toward Satan. Just like the physical beauty of flowers intertwined with the abstract threat of evil, Baudelaire felt that one extreme could not exist without the other.”

(McDrew tries to draw out the animalistic in his male students. He is a man of ‘twoness’ his life is a paradox and his desire for beauty fuels a very realistic horror of sin and ultimately death. And as Beaudelaire adeptly points out, one extreme can not exist without the other.)

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GENE RODDENBERRY  by the Museum of Television. Includes an entire list of Television and Film Credits.

http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=roddenberry

About Composer Lalo Shifrin

Film credits include: just to mention a few
Bullitt
Coogan’s Bluff
CoolHandLuke                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dirty Harry
Dr. Kildare
Enter The Dragon
The Fox
Kelly’s Heroes
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Volume 2
Mannix
Medical Center
Mission Impossible
Petrocelli
Pretty Maids All in a Row
Telefon                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             HideinPlainSight                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Starsky and Hutch
THX 1138
TheWrathofGod                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows

Lalo Schifrin (b. 1932) is an Argentinean-born composer, conductor, arranger and pianist who has contributed to various films and  Television programs. He was the pianist and arranger for Dizzy Gillespie. Shifrin became one of the most notable film and TV composers of the 1960s and ’70s.

Peace- MonsterGirl (JoGabriel)

The Ancient Mariner (S.T. Coleridge)

Like one that on a lonesome road

Doth walk in fear and dread,

And having once turnd round, walks on

And turns no more his head;

Because he knows of frightful fiend

Doth close bdhind him tread.