Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.

Of Circean poison and intoxicating things. When dealing with The Gods, the result is suffering.

The Remarkable Mrs Hawk (air date December 18, 1961)

Starring Jo Van Fleet as Mrs Cissy Hawk, John Carradine as Jason Longfellow, Paul Newlan as Sheriff Tom’Ulysses’ Willetts, Hal Baylor as Pete Gogan and Bruce Dern as Johnny Norton. Directed by John Brahm and adapted to the screen by Donald Sanford from a story by Margaret St Clair

“What beast-molding Drakaina [Kirke] shall he [Odysseus] not behold, mixing drugs with meal, and beast-shaping doom? And they, hapless ones, bewailing their fate shall feed in the pig styes, crunching grape stones mixed with grass and oil cake. But him the drowsy root shall save from harm and the coming of Ktaros [Hermes].”

Here is yet another favorite episode in the Thriller canon that always brings a smile to my face, even having seen it a number of times over the years. One of the most memorable and striking attributes that most of Karloff ‘s macabre little theatrical plays possess is an uncannily vivid sense of place, despite them having been filmed on a sound stage at Universal Studios.

Part of the enjoyment of this episode is the presence of that Ubiquitous character actor John Carradine, who’s facial expressions alone can be so accentuated and, bear acrobatic demonstrations that make him so uniquely entertaining to watch and listen to. Not unlike the great Burgess Meredith. These actors both, use their face as their canvas.

It’s a very interesting idea to take mythology and place in a southern Gothic rural setting, along side the carnival which adds a layer of mystique.

There’s a great scene which utilizes the theatrical anachronism wonderfully. Cissy Hawk carries the bowl, or ‘Circe’s cup’ the night she feeds the pigs grapes and turns Johnny back into a man for a while. An ancient rite on modern rural farm land.

Another thing that’s notable is her wand is a plastic back scratcher!

The mixture of the playful score, clarinet, flute and the grunts and groans and deep bassy string swells in contradiction add such a maniacally macabre touch to the episode.

Perhaps it’s just good writing, and set design that forges a perfect landscape for each stories central theme to thrive. Mrs Hawk, is one of those contributions that offers just the right meat, from the perfect theatrical marrow. Continue reading “Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.”