Re-Ocurring Iconography-The Cinematic Mirror

A Streetcar Named Desire
Vivien Leigh as Blanch Dubois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
IsobelaCorona is Sara the witch-the witches mirror
Isobela Corona is Sara the witch-The Witches Mirror 1962
Repulsion- Catherine
Catherine Deneuve as the demented Carol in Roman Polanski’s Repulsion 1965
Bette Davis in Deception
Bette Davis as Christine Radcliffe in Irving Rapper’s Deception 1946
Robert Cummings in The Chase
Robert Cummings is Chuck Scott in Arthur Ripley’s The Chase 1946
citizen-kane-1941-orson-welles-
Citizen Kane-1941-Orson Welles
Corridor of Mirrors 2
Terence Young’s Corridor of Mirrors 1948 Edana Romney as Mifanwy Conway
Dead Ringer
Paul Henreid’s Dead Ringer 1964 starring Bette Davis & Bette Davis as twin sisters Margaret DeLorca / Edith Phillips
Decoy
Jack Bernhard’s film noir classic Decoy 1946 Herbert Rudley as Dr. Craig
fritz lang's M
Fritz Lang’s M (1931) starring Peter Lorre
Ida On Dangerous Ground
Ida Lupino is blind Mary Malden in Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground 1951
Jane Wyman Stage Fright
Jane Wyman is Eve Gill in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Stage Fright 1950
Jean Simmons and Dan O'Herlihey Home After Dark
Jean Simmons is Charlotte Bronn and Dan O’Herlihy as Arnold Bronn in Mervyn LeRoy’s psychological melodrama Home Before Dark 1958
jean-marais-Orpeus '50
Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (Orphée)1950 starring Jean Marais
Kiss Before The Mirror '33 James Whale
The Kiss Before the Mirror 1933 directed by James Whale Gloria Stuart and Paul Lukas
Lady in the Lake
Robert Montgomery is Phillip Marlowe in Lady in the Lake 1947
Marilyn Don't Bother to Knock-mirror
Marilyn Monroe is the disturbed babysitter Nell Forbes in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock 1952
Psycho-Janet Leigh Marion Crane
Janet Leigh plays the ill fated Marion Crane in Hitchcock’s classic horror Psycho 1960
Renoir's The Rules of the Game 39
Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game 1939
She Wolf of London
June Lockhart is Phyllis Allenby in Jean Yarbrough’s She-Wolf of London 1946
sin in the suburbs
Joe Sarno’s Sin in the Suburbs 1946
Somewhere in the night Hodiak
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Somewhere in the Night 1946 starring John Hodiak as George Taylor and Nancy Guild (rhymes with Wild) as Christy Smith
Sunset Blvd
Gloria Swanson is the sensational Norma Desmond and William Holden is Joe Gillis in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. 1950
The Big Steal
Robert Mitchum is Lt. Duke Halliday and William Bendix as Capt. Vincent Blake in Don Siegel’s The Big Steal 1949
The Dark Mirror
Olivia de Havilland & Olivia de Havilland star as Terry and Ruth Collins in Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror 1946
The Lady from Shanghai
Rita Hayworth is Elsa Bannister in Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai 1947
The Queen of Spades mirror

Yvonne Mitchell is Lizaveta Ivanova in Thorold Dickinson’s The Queen of Spades 1949
Thomas Mitchell in The Dark Mirror
Thomas Mitchell is Lt Stevenson in Robert Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror 1946
what ever happened to baby jane
Bette Davis is the outrageous Baby Jane Hudson in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

Here’s looking back at ya!-Your ever lovin’ monstergirl

Re-Occuring Iconography in Classic Noir, Suspense & Horror: Stairs…

Battleship Potemkin 1925- Sergei Eisenstein known for his montage framing and editing offers up the epic dramatization of social uprising in Russia, which brought about a grim massacre with an iconic scene of the baby carriage plummeting down the great stone steps.
Dr. Caligari’s somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt) ascends the abstraction of a stairway to nowhere…in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
F.W.Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece of shadow and light. With subtle prominence, the silhouette of the stair rails makes cogent the sinister outline of Max Schreck’s Nosferatu all the more.
Alfred Hitchcock’s crime thriller Blackmail (1929)
She 1935 Irving Pichel and Lansing C Holden’s fantastical saga based on H. Rider Haggard’s novel about an ancient esoteric civilization reigned over by the cruel high priestess She who must be obeyed, upon the steps by the secret eternal flame of everlasting youth! with an intoxicating score by Max Steiner
Again from 1935s SHE released in both B&W and a gorgeous colorized version. I’ll be doing a larger overview of the film very soon. Using images from both.
Steps upon steps, leading to divinity, or leading to death?
Thorold Dickinson’s hauntingly sinister fable- The Queen of Spades 1949- See the intricate network of elaborate stairs that wind within the vast manor house, which lead to the infamous lady who bet her soul away to the devil in order to win at a game of cards.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946) Cary Grant carries Ingrid Bergman to safety down the moonlit stone steps.
Notorious (1946) Claude Rains stands alone facing his fate up those moonlit stone steps…the end scene.

MORE TO COME!!!!!!!

I’ll be heading back up the ‘steps’ here at the drive-in, be well- MonsterGirl!

Postcards From Shadowland No.7

La Belle et la Bete (1946)
Caged (1950)
Criss Cross (1949)
Devil Girl From Mars (1954)
Les Diaboliques (1955)
Experiment in Terror (1962)
Les yeux sans Visage (1960)
Les yeux sans visage (1960)
Gloria Grahame The Cobweb (1955)
I Bury The Living (1958)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Kiss The Blood Off My Hands (1948)
Lady in a Cage (1964)
Mother Joan of The Angels (1961)
Belle et la Bete (1946)
Strait-Jacket (1964)
Sunrise (1927)
The Haunting (1963)
The Queen of Spades (1949)
Vampyr (1932)
The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962)

Postcards From Shadowland No.6

The 49th Parallel (1949) Directed by Michael Powell and starring Leslie Howard and Laurence Olivier
La Belle et la Bête 1946 directed by Jean Cocteau starring Jean Marais and Josette Day
Beggars of Life 1928 staring Wallace Beery, Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen. Directed by William Wellman
Bunny Lake is Missing 1965 Directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Carol Lynley, Laurence Olivier, and Keir Dullea
La Main du Diable or Carnival of Sinners 1943 Directed by Maurice Tourneur and stars Pierre Fresnay, Josseline Gael and Noel Roquevert
The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941 Directed by William Dieterle and stars Walter Houston as Old Scratch, and Edward Arnold, Jane Darwell and Simone Simon.
Dracula’s Daughter 1936 directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger and Marguerite Churchill
Experiment in Terror 1962 directed by Blake Edwards and starring Lee Remick, Glenn Ford, Stephanie Powers and a raspy Ross Martin as ‘Red’ Lynch
Fallen Angel 1945 Directed by Otto Preminger and starring Linda Darnell, Dana Andrews and Alice Faye
Fedra The Devil’s Daughter 1956 Directed by Manuel Mur Oti and stars Emma Penelia, Enrique Diosdado and Vicente Parra
Joan Crawford is Possessed 1947 directed by Curtis Bernhardt, also starring Van Heflin and Raymond Massey
Diaboliques 1955 directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and starring Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot and Paul Meurisse
Never Take Sweets From A Stranger 1960 Directed by Cyril Frankel and stars Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen and Felix Aylmer
The Night Holds Terror 1955 Directed by Andrew L. Stone starring Jack Kelly, Hildy Parks, Vince Edwards and John Cassavetes
Robert Mitchum is Harry Powell, in Night of The Hunter 1955 Directed by Charles Laughton also starring Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish
Plunder Road 1957 directed by Hubert Cornfield and stars Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper, Wayne Morris and Elisha Cook Jr.
Seance On a Wet Afternoon 1964 directed by Bryan Forbes and stars Kim Stanley, Richard Attenborough and Margaret Lacey
Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On a Train 1951 starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker and Ruth Roman
Gloria Swanson is Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard 1950 Directed by Billy Wilder and starring William Holden and Erich von Stroheim
Val Lewton’s The Seventh Victim 1943 Directed by Mark Robson and stars Kim Hunter, Tom Conway and Jean Brooks
Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi star in Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Black Cat 1934 inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s story.
The Killer Is Loose 1956 Directed by Budd Boetticher and stars Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey
The Ox-Bow Incident 1943 Directed by William Wellman and stars Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes and Anthony Quinn
The Prowler 1951 Directed by Joseph Losey and stars Evelyn Keyes and Van Heflin
The Queen of Spades 1949 Directed by Thorold Dickinson and stars Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell
Lon Chaney stars in Tod Browning’s The Unknown 1927 also starring Joan Crawford and Norman Kerry.
Edward L. Cahn’s 1956 film The Werewolf
Jean Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher 1928 inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and adapted for the screen by Luis Bunuel
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932) Based on a story by Sheridan Le Fanu. Starring Julian West, Maurice Schutz and Rena Mandel

Postcards From Shadowland No.4

BAD BLONDE (1953) directed by Reginald Le Borg starring Barbara Payton, Frederick Valk and John Slater.
Directed by Julien DuviveirFLESH AND FANTASY(1943) starring Betty Field, Edward G.Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Boyer, Robert Cummings, Anna Lee, Dame May Whitty and C.Aubrey Smith
Cast A Dark Shadow (1955) directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Lockwood and Kay Walsh
The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Directed by Ida Lupino and starring Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy and William Talman
Night of The Eagle aka Burn Witch Burn (1962) directed by Sidney Hayers, written for the screen by Charles Beaumont, and starring Peter Wyngarde , Janet Blair and Margaret Johnston.
Panic In The Streets (1950) directed by Elia Kazan and starring Jack Palance, Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas and Barbara Bel Geddes
M (1931) Directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre
The Queen of Spades (1949) Directed by Thorold Dickinson and starring starring Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell
ROPE OF SAND (1949) Directed by William Dieterle and starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Henried, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre and Corinne Calvet.
Edge of Doom (1950) directed Mark Robson and starring Farley Granger, Dana Andrews and Joan Evans.
Joe Sarno’s Sin In The Suburbs (1964)
Stranger on The 3rd Floor (1940) Directed by Boris Ingster and starring Peter Lorre, John McGuire and Margaret Tallichet.
Strangers on a Train (1951) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker and Ruth Roman.
The 39 Steps (1935) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim and Peggy Ashcroft.
The Dark Corner (1946) directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Lucille Ball, Mark Stevens, Clifton Webb and William Bendix.
Director Robert Siodmak’s masterpiece of film noir adapted from Ernest Hemingway, 1946 The Killers. Starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien and Albert Dekker.
Director Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Starring Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer. Featuring a young Cloris Leachman…
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Director Elia Kazan’s exploration into Tennessee Williams’ iconic characters. Starring Vivien Leigh as Blanche Duboise, Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski, Kim Hunter as Stella…and Karl Malden as Mitch.
The World, The Flesh and The Devil (1959) Directed by Ranald MacDougall, starring Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer.

From The Vault: The Queen of Spades (1949)

“The Dead Shall Give Up Their Secrets!”

THE QUEEN OF SPADES 1949

The Queen of Spades is a masterpiece if ever I saw one. Associate Producer Jack Clayton was on board for this film, directed by Thorold Dickinson (Gaslight 1940) who came onto the project last minute. Adapted to the screen by Rodney Ackland and Arthur Boys from the story written by Alexander Pushkin. The story could have easily been dreamt up by Aleksei Tolstoy,  Ivan Chekhov -(The Drop of Water) Nikolai Gogol  or even Oscar Wilde.

My partner Wendy even mentioned Edgar Allan Poe as she watched along with me. It brought to my mind, his short story Never Bet The Devil Your Head. Which of course was brought to life by Frederico Fellini in the segment of Spirits of The Dead 1968 called Toby Dammit, featuring the work of actor Terence Stamp.

Terence Stamp as Toby Dammit in the segment of the same name as part of Spirits of The Dead. Directed by Frederico Fellini 1968 Based on the short story by Poe, Never Bet The Devil Your Head.
From Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath 1963 vignette The Drop of Water based on a story by Chekhov.
Boris Karloff stars in an adaptation of Tolstoy’s story in the segment about The Wurdelak.

It’s clear that Russians are very good at telling Ghost stories and notorious for telling tales about selling your soul to the Devil!

The Queen of Spades, stars Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans, Yvonne Mitchell and Ronald Howard.

The gorgeous music scored by Georges Auric   (Beauty and The Beast (1946), The Innocents (1961), and Wages of Fear 1953 just to mention a very few!) is as heart wrenching as it is heroic, drawing out the exquisite melody and chord changes to reach the soul and twist it into knots while it lingers.

What can I say about the gorgeous cinematography by Otto Heller.The odd camera angles are reminiscent of the great German Expressionist movement, something from Fritz Lang or the use of light and darkly dreamy angles like that of Carl Theodor Dreyer.

Even without any sound, the story would have emerged from the screen as a powerful cautionary tale, rife with grotesque and compelling characters.

The film is an arresting fairytale, that’s dreamy, and haunting in it’s imagery and perhaps, yes perhaps as visually stunning as I dare say Jean Cocteau’s  La Belle et la Bête 1946 or Julian Duvivier’s Flesh and Fantasy 1943 and collaborative efforts of Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer’s Dead of Night 1945.

Betty Fields and the mysterious mask salesman in Flesh and Fantasy
Michael Redgrave and his dummy in Dead of Night

There are frames so masterfully conjured in shadow, that you might even think you’re watching Film Noir or an obscure Val Lewton production. Either way, The Queen of Spades sort of defies being labelled a specific genre.

It has it’s own melancholy fantasy that draws from many elements of  the mystery/suspense crime/noir and supernatural horror gems of that golden age, when visual structure was as essential to the narrative as was the character development and dialogue.

Anton Walbrook is wonderful as Moira Shearer’s domineering impresario Boris Lermontov in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes 1948

Anton Walbrook  plays the bitter and venomous Capt.Herman Suvorin an army engineer, who is so poisoned by his resentments toward the ruling aristocracy , that he wants to gain his own wealth, and punish those around him who have benefited by their birthright and title. Suvorin does not want to take life as it comes, he wants to “Grab life by the throat and force it to give him what he wants!”-Suvorin.

This he conspires to do by trying to learn the secret of winning at a card game named Faro, from the Old Countess Ranevskaya, played by Edith Evans.

The marvelous British actress Dame Edith Evans
It’s always a bad omen to draw The Queen of Spades!

After a frustrating night of watching a few of his fellow army officers play Faro, taunting Herman as if he was not of the same class, he bursts out of his room in a self absorbed rage, and wanders onto the streets and into a dusty old book store, first picking up a book about Napoleon Bonaparte whom he admires (his portrait hangs in Herman’s humble room) because Napoleon came into his power at age 26!

Herman Suvorin possess a similar intensely maniacal quality that makes him a very unapproachable,manipulative and unlikable man. Looking at him was like “looking into the eyes of Satan!”

Fatefully placed next to Napoleon’s book is another book, suddenly and with a creepy alacrity, the old bookshop owner picks up the ancient bound leather and starts relating it’s contents to Herman, as if he’d been chosen the messenger… warning Suvorin about the secrets and dangers of tampering with the universe. The old man told Herman that he’d either wind up having riches… or lose his eternal soul!

“You might wind up gaining a fortune or losing your precious soul!”

In terms of appearance and demeanor I thought of Riffraff from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and wondered if this little bookish crypt keeper was an inspiration for Richard O Brien!

Herman purchases the book for 3 rubles, and starts reading aloud to us. This mysterious book, about people making deals with the Devil, and a certain mysterious Count d. Saint Germaine who lived in an isolated palace and molded wax images of his chosen victims, thereby trapping their souls forever in his power.

Herman Suvorin slowly and thoughtfully recites to us from the book:

Containing the true stories of people who sold their souls in return for wealth, power or influence… Chapter IV The Secret of The Cards
Countess R…(Countess Ranevskaya )
In the year seventeen hundred and forty six, (60 years ago)
The Count d. Saint Germain arrived in St. Petersburg.
He chose for his residence, a palace on the outskirts of the city.
and soon there were strange rumors, about the weird dwelling and it’s mysterious occupant. It was certainly true that in the vaults of the palace. he had a curious collection of wax figures, which, so it was whispered, contained the souls of those who had fallen under his evil influence. He would derive intense please from modeling the wax figures from his intended victims, each one of whom was chosen.
with deliberate appreciation. Thus the countess Ranevskaya, acknowledged as the most beautiful woman in Russia came to excite his attention. He learned that in spite of a jealous husband, all the men had vied for her favors.

Sleeping with a handsome stranger, gets The Countess into grave trouble!
This stranger warns the Countess of having amorous encounters, then robs her of her jealous husband’s money!

When the last of the guests had left. the countess went down the secret stairway.. To admits the young stranger she had promised to meet. She alone had the key to the hidden door. They had an amorous meeting. He was a cad and threatened her with scandal. Taking all her money. She was haunted by the fear of scandal. She needed to replace the money. In her despair she remembered the message from Saint Germain. she had no alternative but to answer the mysterious summons.  She would sell her soul… anything  to save herself…

Is Saint d. Germain really The Devil?

Germain’s messenger tells the young Countess to meet him at his palace!

In Saint Germain’s vault of waxworks, just before the darkness closes in, and the Countess screams off screen…

Continue reading “From The Vault: The Queen of Spades (1949)”