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Category: Curse of The Cat People 1944
Film Noir ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
― Sigmund Freud
“Ladies and gentlemen- welcome to violence; the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains sex.” — Narrator from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965).
THE DARK PAGES NEWSLETTER a condensed article was featured in The Dark Pages: You can click on the link for all back issues or to sign up for upcoming issues to this wonderful newsletter for all your noir needs!
Constance Towers as Kelly from The Naked Kiss (1964): “I saw a broken down piece of machinery. Nothing but the buck, the bed and the bottle for the rest of my life. That’s what I saw.”
Griff (Anthony Eisley) The Naked Kiss (1964): “Your body is your only passport!”
Catherine Deneuve as Carole Ledoux in Repulsion (1965): “I must get this crack mended.”
Monty Clift Dr. Cukrowicz Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) : “Nature is not made in the image of man’s compassion.”
Patricia Morán as Rita Ugalde: The Exterminating Angel 1962:“I believe the common people, the lower class people, are less sensitive to pain. Haven’t you ever seen a wounded bull? Not a trace of pain.”
Ann Baxter as Teresina Vidaverri Walk on the Wild Side 1962—“When People are Kind to each other why do they have to find a dirty word for it.”
The Naked Venus 1959–“I repeat she is a gold digger! Europe’s full of them, they’re tramps… they’ll do anything to get a man. They even pose in the NUDE!!!!”
Darren McGavin as Louie–The Man With the Golden Arm (1955): “The monkey is never dead, Dealer. The monkey never dies. When you kick him off, he just hides in a corner, waiting his turn.”
Baby Boy Franky Buono-Blast of Silence (1961) “The targets names is Troiano, you know the type, second string syndicate boss with too much ambition and a mustache to hide the facts he’s got lips like a woman… the kind of face you hate!”
Lorna (1964)- “Thy form is fair to look upon, but thy heart is filled with carcasses and dead man’s bones.”
Peter Fonda as Stephen Evshevsky in Lilith (1964): “How wonderful I feel when I’m happy. Do you think that insanity could be so simple a thing as unhappiness?”
Glen or Glenda (1953)– “Give this man satin undies, a dress, a sweater and a skirt, or even a lounging outfit and he’s the happiest individual in the world.”
Johnny Cash as Johnny Cabot in Five Minutes to Live (1961):“I like a messy bed.”
Dr. Moreau (Charles Laughton) Island of Lost Souls: “Do you know what it means to feel like God?”
The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969): “Sex dominates the world! And now, I dominate sex!”
The Snake Pit (1948): Jacqueline deWit as Celia Sommerville “And we’re so crowded already. I just don’t know where it’s all gonna end!” Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Stuart Cunningham “I’ll tell you where it’s gonna end, Miss Somerville… When there are more sick ones than well ones, the sick ones will lock the well ones up.”
Delphine Seyrig as Countess Bathory in Daughters of Darkness (1971)– “Aren’t those crimes horrifying. And yet -so fascinating!”
Julien Gulomar as Bishop Daisy to the Barber (Michel Serrault) King of Hearts (1966)–“I was so young. I already knew that to love the world you have to get away from it.”
The Killing of Sister George (1968) -Suzanna York as Alice ‘CHILDIE’: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know” Beryl Reid as George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”
The Lickerish Quartet (1970)–“You can’t get blood out of an illusion.”
THE SWEET SOUND OF DEATH (1965)– Dominique-“I’m attracted” Pablo-” To Bullfights?” Dominique-” No, I meant to death. I’ve always thought it… The state of perfection for all men.”
Peter O’Toole as Sir Charles Ferguson Brotherly Love (1970): “Remember the nice things. Reared in exile by a card-cheating, scandal ruined daddy. A mummy who gave us gin for milk. Ours was such a beautifully disgusting childhood.”
Maximillian Schell as Stanislaus Pilgrin in Return From The Ashes 1965: “If there is no God, no devil, no heaven, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.”
Euripides 425 B.C.–“Whom God wishes to destroy… he first makes mad.”
WHAT DOES PSYCHOTRONIC MEAN?
psychotronic |ˌsīkəˈtränik| adjective denoting or relating to a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics. [the 1980s: coined in this sense by Michael Weldon, who edited a weekly New York guide to the best and worst films on local television.] Source: Wikipedia
In the scope of these transitioning often radical films, where once, men and women aspired for the moon and the stars and the whole ball of wax. in the newer scheme of things they aspired for you know… “kicks” Yes that word comes up in every film from the 50s and 60s… I’d like to have a buck for every time a character opines that collective craving… from juvenile delinquent to smarmy jet setter!
FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NOWHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!
I just got myself this collection of goodies from Something Weird!
Just like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, Noir took a journey through an even darker lens… Out of the shadows of 40s Noir cinema, European New Wave, fringe directors, and Hollywood auteurs brought more violent, sexual, transgressive, and socially transformative narratives into the cold light of day with a creeping sense of verité. While Film Noir pushed the boundaries of taboo subject matter and familiar Hollywood archetypes it wasn’t until later that we are able to visualize the advancement of transgressive topics.
Continue reading “Film Noir ♥ Transgressions Into the Cultural Cinematic Gutter: From Shadowland to Psychotronic Playground”
Heroines & Scream Queens of Classic Horror: the 1940s! A very special Drive In Hall🎃ween treat!
THE WOMEN OF CLASSIC HORROR: THE 1940S!
You could say that Evelyn Ankers is still the reigning queen of classical 1940s horror fare turned out by studios like RKO, Universal, and Monogram. But there was a host of femme scream tales that populated the silver screen with their unique beauty, quirky style, and/or set of lungs ready to wail, faint, or generally add some great tone and tinge to the eerie atmosphere whenever the mad scientist or monster was afoot. Some were even monstrous themselves…
For this upcoming Halloween, I thought I’d show just a little love to those fabulous ladies who forged a little niche for themselves as the earliest scream queens & screen icons.
I’m including Elsa Lanchester because any time I can talk about this deliriously delightful actress I’m gonna do it. Now I know she was the screaming hissing undead bride in the 30s but consider this… in the 40s she co-starred in two seminal thrillers that bordered on shear horror as Mrs. Oates in The Spiral Staircase 1945 and a favorite of mine as one of Ida Lupino’s batty sisters Emily Creed in Ladies in Retirement 1941
I plan on venturing back to the pre-code thirties soon, so I’ll talk about The Bride of Frankenstein, as well as Gloria Holden (Dracula’s Daughter, Frances Dade (Dracula) and Kathleen Burke (Island of Lost Souls) Gloria Stuart and Fay Wray and so many more wonderful actresses of that golden era…
ANNE NAGEL 1915-1956
The depraved mad scientist Lionel Atwill working with electro biology pins gorgeous red-headed Anne Nagel playing June Lawrence, to his operating slab in Man Made Monster 1941. Lon Chaney Jr. comes hulking in all aglow as the ‘Electrical Man’ which was his debut for Universal. He carries Anne Nagel through the countryside all lit up like a lightning bug in rubber armor. Man Made Monster isn’t the only horror shocker that she displayed her tresses & distresses. She also played a night club singer named Sunny Rogers also co-starring our other 40’s horror heroine icon Anne Gwynne in the Karloff/Lugosi pairing Black Friday in 1940.
She played the weeping Mrs.William Saunders, the wife of Lionel Atwill’s first victim in Mad Doctor of Market Street 1942. And then of course she played mad scientist Dr Lorenzo Cameron’s (George Zucco’s) daughter Lenora in The Mad Monster 1942. Dr. Cameron has succeeded with his serum in turning men into hairy wolf-like Neanderthal monsters whom he unleashes on the men who ruined his career.
Poor Anne had a very tragic life… Considered that sad girl who was always hysterical. Once Universal dropped her she fell into the Poverty Row limbo of bit parts. Her brief marriage to Ross Alexander ended when he shot himself in the barn in 1937, and Anne became a quiet alcoholic until her death from cancer in 1966.
MARTHA VICKERS- 1925-1971
Martha was in noir favorites The Big Sleep 1946 & Alimony 1949. This beauty played an uncredited Margareta ‘Vazec’s Daughter’along side Ilona Massey as Baroness Elsa Frankenstein and the marvelous older beauty Maria Ouspenskaya as Maleva the gypsy! in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man 1943. Then she played heroine Dorothy Coleman in Captive Wild Woman 1943 and Miss McLean in The Mummy’s Ghost 1944.
Originally Martha MacVickar she started modeling for photographer William Mortenson. David O Selznick contracted the starlet but Universal took over and put in her bit parts as the victim in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and in other ‘B’ guilty pleasures like Captive Wild Woman & The Mummy’s Ghost. She was also the pin-up girl for WWII magazines.
Martha also starred in other noir features such as Ruthless 1948 and The Big Bluff 1955. She was Mickey Rooney’s third wife.
Though Logan made very few films including Opened By Mistake 1940, her contribution to women who kick-ass in horror films and don’t shrink like violets when there’s a big bald baddie coming after you with a net and a bottle of chloroform, makes you a pretty fierce contender even if you are only 7 inches tall! As Dr. Mary Robinson (Janice Logan), Logan held it all together while the men were scattering like mice from the menacing google eyed Dr. Cyclops played superbly by Albert Dekker.
FAY HELM 1909-2003
Fay Helm played Ann Terry in one of my favorite unsung noir/thriller gems Phantom Lady 1944 where it was all about the ‘hat’ and she co-starred as Nurse Strand alongside John Carradine in Captive Wild Woman. Fay played Mrs. Duval in the Inner Sanctum mystery Calling Dr. Death with Lon Chaney Jr. 1943
Fay Helm plays Jenny Williams in Curt Siodmak’s timeless story directed by George Waggner for Universal and starring son of a thousand faces Lon Chaney Jr in his most iconic role Larry Talbot as The Wolf Man 1941
Fay as Jenny Williams: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”
Fay was in Night Monster 1942. Directed by Ford Beebe the film starred Bela Lugosi as a butler to Lionel Atwill a pompous doctor who falls prey to frightening nocturnal visitations. I particularly love the atmosphere of this little chiller with its swampy surroundings and its metaphysical storyline.
Dr. Lynn Harper (Irene Hervey- Play Misty For Me 1971) a psychologist is called to the mysterious Ingston Mansion, to evaluate the sanity of Margaret Ingston, played by our horror heroine Fay Helm daughter of Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan) a recluse who invites the doctors to his eerie mansion who left him in a wheelchair.
Fay gives a terrific performance surrounded by all the ghoulish goings on! She went on to co-star with Bela Lugosi and Jack Haley in the screwball scary comedy One Body Too Many (1944).
Irene Hervey as Dr. Lynn Harper –Night Monster 1942.
LOUISE CURRIE 1913-2013
Bela Lugosi as half ape half man really needed a shave badly in The Ape Man 1943, and Louise Currie and her wonder whip might have been the gorgeous blonde dish to make him go for the Barbasol. One of the most delicious parts of the film was its racy climax as Emil Van Horn in a spectacle of a gorilla suit rankles the cage bars longing for Currie’s character, Billie Mason the tall blonde beauty. As Bela skulks around the laboratory and Currie snaps her whip in those high heels. The film’s heroine was a classy dame referred to as Monogram’s own Katharine Hepburn! She had a great affection for fellow actor Bela Lugosi and said that she enjoyed making Poverty Row films more than her bit part in Citizen Kane! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that she appeared in several serials, from both Universal & Republic like The Green Hornet and Captain Marvel.
Tom Weaver in his book Poverty Row HORRORS! described The Ape Man as “a Golden Turkey of the most beloved kind.”
Louise Currie followed up with another sensational title for Monogram as Stella Saunders in Voodoo Man 1944 which again features Lugosi as Dr. Richard Marlowe who blends voodoo with hypnosis in an attempt to bring back his dead wife. The film also co-stars George Zucco as a voodoo high priest and the ubiquitous John Carradine as Toby a bongo-playing half-wit “Don’t hurt her Grego, she’s a pretty one!”
Continue reading “Heroines & Scream Queens of Classic Horror: the 1940s! A very special Drive In Hall🎃ween treat!”
Begin ‘The Bagheeta’: Val Lewton’s fantasy/ reality world of Curse of The Cat People: fearing the female/feline monster and the engendering child. Part I
Val Lewton’s short story ‘The Bagheeta’ appeared in Farnsworth Wright’s July 1930 issue of Weird Tales Magazine. Lewton was dabbling in concepts of terror, before he even got to RKO.
The story takes place in the Ukraine (from which MonsterGirl’s people come!) and is a coming of age story about a 16 year old boy named Kolya who helps his Uncle forge armor. Someone comes into the village with a slaughtered sheep, who claims to have seen a Bagheeta, a monstrous black leopard that can change it’s form into a beautiful woman. Only one person can kill a Bagheeta, and that is a virgin male, for he needs to be able to resist her seductive powers. If he is seduced, the woman will change back into the black leopard and kill the boy and eat him! Lewton would eventually adapt and produce his story for RKO in the form of Cat People in 1942 starring Simone Simon the suggested embodiment of a Bagheeta.
His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.
Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE 1944
Produced by Val Lewton and directed by Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch, scripted by DeWitt Bodeen, and stars Simone Simon as the ghost of Irena, Kent Smith as Oliver Reed, Jane Randolph as Alice Reed, Eve March as Miss Callahan, Julia Dean as Mrs. Julia Farren, Elizabeth Russell as Barbara Farren, Sir Lancelot as Edward, and Ann Carter as Amy Reed.
Ann Carter played Beatrice Carroll in the riveting noir classic The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) with Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck.
Curse of the Cat People is filled with poignant original music by Roy Webb and with Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca (Cat People 1942, The Fallen Sparrow 1943, The 7th Victim 1943, The Spiral Staircase 1945 Bedlam 1946 and Out of The Past 1947) It’s no wonder Curse of The Cat People has many of the elements of a classic film noir piece.
CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (1944) – A synopsis
After the tragic death of his wife Irena, played by the beautiful Simone Simon, Oliver Reed once again played by Kent Smtih has remarried his co-worker Alice (Jane Randolph). They now have a very serious , yet gentle six year old little girl named Amy (Ann Carter) who is taken to day-dreaming and being a loner.
She does not mix in well with the other children at school who do not understand her sensitivity or her private world of fantasy that she has built around her as a survival mechanism.
Amy’s father, Oliver, is constantly wielding an authoritative criticism of his daughters day-dreaming, and wants her to play with the other children, and exist in the ‘real’ world. Amy has a birthday party for which she invites the children in her class, but no one shows up that day, and Oliver discovers that she has mailed out the invitations by placing them in the magic wishing-tree, which is a hollowed out knot of the large tree out behind the house.
waiting for her classmates to share her birthday wishes. But no one ever comes….
Oliver had told Amy this was a magic spot when she was younger, and she remembers it,understanding it to be true because her father told her it was. She was taught to believe in magic and then without preparation, is expected to denounce all things wondrous without any serious provocation on her part. She is only six years old after all.
Saddened by the absence of her classmates at her party, Oliver, Alice and Edward the manservant from Jamaica throw Amy a smaller party instead, equip with a birthday cake decorated with 6 little candles.
Amy is told to make a wish, but not to tell anyone what it is or it won’t come true. Again, Amy is conflicted by the mixed messages the adults in her life are giving her. She tells her father, that wishes don’t come true. Oliver tells her “some do.” And her mother Alice embellishes by saying that you just can’t say it out loud or it will nullify the magic wish.
Once again, there is a suspension of disbelief on their terms, disavowing Amy and her ability to develop a clearly defined sense of fantasy and reality. How can she properly order her world.
The children at school are furious with Amy for not inviting them as promised. As they shun her, they lead her to an old sinister looking mansion, where someone calls to her from the window. A voice calls out to her to come closer. Amy looks around and the unseen person throws down a white handkerchief threading a gold ring.
Continue reading “Begin ‘The Bagheeta’: Val Lewton’s fantasy/ reality world of Curse of The Cat People: fearing the female/feline monster and the engendering child. Part I”
Coming Soon from Speakeasy The Val Lewton Blogaton!!!!
Kristina of the Speakeasy Blog and Stephen also know as Classic Movie Man will be co-hosting this marvelous event!
There’s just sooo much that can be said for Val Lewton’s contribution and influence on cinema. I have been dragging my feet with a feature, myself, but this years blogathon gives me a chance to talk a little bit about the man who truly created several masterpieces of cinematic history. So join Kristina, and Stephen and all the other bloggers who will be contributing their coverage.
I am working on a piece for Curse of The Cat People 1944 which was the follow up to Cat People, still appearing is Simone Simon as the ghost of Irena. I’ll be discussing a few things, The Merging of Reality and Fantasy,
The Fear and Threat of Children, the corruption of their innocence, imagination and how their freedom of expression challenges us to either push the boundaries of belief or succumb to Christian myth that would crush it, deem it evil, or call it mental illness.
Also I’ll talk about the Fear of The Female Monster and The Feminine. Especially in this case, a female child….!
And of course being an avid cat worshiper I’ll address that absurd superstitious malarkey centered around fear of cats being servants of the Devil… in particular black cats. So, stay tuned for a very informative and beautiful ride through the Shadowlands of one of the greatest film makers of all time-
See it here: Oct 31st 2012
See you there-MonsterGirl!