Monday, October 29, 2012


Every Halloween, I like to dress up with my kids when I go out with them. When my son told me that he wanted me to be Frankenstein, I pondered on who had played the creature on the silver screen. This post is a result of my curiosity.

The first to play the Frankenstein monster was Charles Ogle, in a sixteen minute brief made at Edison Studios in 1910. This monster was not created through the regular electrocution of a lifeless body, but rather through the mixture within a chemical vat.

Another short, created in 1915, was actually based on the dream of a character in the story. The dream had been the result of his reading the famous novel. Sadly the film is considered to be lost. In 1921, another Frankenstein film was made in Europe without much of a following.

It wasn't until ten years later that Frankenstein would find itself in another picture. The film was titled simply, Frankenstein (1931), and the man for the role was Boris Karloff. The studio had originally hoped for their new found star, Bela Lugosi, to play the lead. Apparently, Lugosi was not too fond on the idea of wearing heavy makeup with no dialogue, and turned them down for the part. Later in life, when Karloff was presented on the show, "This is Your Life", it was revealed that the makeup was thirty-five pounds and would take four hours to put on and nearly an hour to take off.

Through his performance, Karloff, became immortalized and gave audiences the Frankenstein they had always wanted. With his large build, narrow face and perfected acting skills, he was the perfect choice and gave new life to the creature.

One thing that I want to mention briefly, as an interesting fact, is the designing that went into the flattened head. As thought went into how the creature should look, one question kept coming up: "What would the crown of the head look like, if the top had been removed and then placed back on?" Finally a conclusion came, that the head would then look flat on top. What they did not realize is that the shape of the skull would not have changed, and in error they forever altered the look of the monster.

With the success of this film, a sequel was created titled, The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). This was also done by Karloff and has actually surpassed the original film in popularity. Karloff played Frankenstein one more time in Son of Frankenstein in 1939.  In 1942, Lon Chaney Jr. was to be the next Frankenstein in The Ghost of Frankenstein. He would later fill in for Glenn Strange, on the set of Lou Costello Bud Abbott Meet Frankenstein (1948), when Strange hurt himself before the final scene.

In 1943, Universal made Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man with Bela Lugosi finally filling the role of the monster. The film also included Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, but unfortunately the crowds had moved on and the monster films fell into the B-movie list.

Two more films were made within the next two years: House of Frankenstein (1944) & House of Dracula (1945). But these films had a new star playing the role, Glenn Strange. As close to Karloff as you can get, his height and distinct features gave him the perfect look. In 1948, a final tribute to the greatest monsters of Universal Studios was made, but this time they were paired with the studios most successful comedic duo, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello in Lou Costello Bud Abbott Meet Frankenstein. The film was a smash hit, but the era of these Universal monsters ended with it.

By this time, Karloff had moved onto other projects and rejected the studios request to have him play the monster one more time in this picture. He felt that comedy and horror would not look good in a film and gave Strange the chance to play the role once more. When Karloff saw that the film was a success, he joined the duo in one of their next films: Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949).

Frankenstein went onto be in many other films, in the States and overseas, as the years went by. It even hit a funny note with Mel Brook's satire, Young Frankenstein (1974). Though these later films may have been good, they fell short of the glory days at Universal Studios. Those original films have withstood the test of time and continue to help us better understand the "Mindless Monster" of Dr. Frankenstein.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Studio: Warner Brothers

Producer: Frank Capra & Jack L. Warner

Director: Frank Capra

Music: Max Steiner

Release Date: September 23rd, 1944

Awards: None

Origination: Based on the Joseph Kesselring's Broadway play and adapted by the twin brothers, Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein, to the screen. The film was shot in 1941, but could not be released until the Broadway show had finished it's run on June 17th, 1944.

Interesting Fact: The first to be invited when casting the play was Boris Karloff. He was invited to lunch and declined their offer right away. Near the end of their visit he asked what his character would be like, of which, they responded "Boris Karloff." With that, he took the role on the condition that it would not be the lead character. He would have been in the films as well, but was busy doing the play and could not participate.

Mortimer Brewster: "When you say 'others,' do you mean others? More than one others?"

This movie is as shocking as it is realistic and is very entertaining. Not only is this movie a Halloween favorite among my brothers & sisters, but it has become one of the most quoted movies in my family as well. In fact, it is so popular with my family that even a proposal has occurred while they were watching it.

The story is very well written with strong characters that interact with each other in unique ways. You come to understand each one as if they were sane, but of course they are not. My favorite character is Aunt Abby, from her hopping around the house, to her content explanations. I must admit that she reminds me a lot of my mom. Don't worry, she doesn't even have wine in the home.

I would like to see the stage version someday and compare it to Capra's shortened screen version. Rumor has it, that Bob Hope was asked to be the lead, but was unable to break his contract with Paramount. I can't imagine anyone else, other than Cary Grant, as the lead and that the rest of the cast were perfect choices. Each actor uses their own recognizable traits as if they were made for that role. You have to see this movie.


Monday, October 22, 2012


Studio: Universal Studios

Producer: Robert Arthur

Director: Charles Barton

Music: Frank Skinner

Release Date: June 15th, 1948

Awards: In 2001 it was entered into the National Film Registry.

Origination: With the earlier success of Abbott & Costello's Hold That Ghost (1941), Universal hoped to use the same concept while also paying homage to their retired Horror monsters.

Interesting Fact: Boris Karloff was invited to play his part as Frankenstein in the film, but turned it down. Though he helped promote the film, he found it unlikely that horror and comedy could co-exist in a film. With the success of the film, he joined the duo in their next horror film Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949).

Chick Young: "I know there's no such person as Dracula. You know there's no such person as Dracula."
Wilbur Grey: "But does Dracula know it?"

I must have watched this film a hundred times as a kid, yet it still has the same magic year after year. In honor of the upcoming holiday, I watched it with my wife and two kids. I had forgotten how scary it was and at one point my son hid in his room until I convinced him to sit next to me for the rest of the film. After the film, he was jumping and clawing around the room like the Wolf Man and later admitted that he liked the movie. I wonder if that's what I did after I watched it for the first time.

Who could have conceived that the comical skits of Abbott & Costello could fit inside such a film? Maybe it wasn't just the genre itself that made it possible, but because their talents were so versatile they could perform under any setting. As performers, with Vaudeville roots, they preferred a responsive audience over a silent camera and often found it a struggle to keep up their energy. To solve this problem, they would throw pies at each other in between takes. This humor was not appreciated by all though, especially Bela Lugosi. So the duo made sure never to hit the other leads in their battles.

One last thing that I would like to explain is why this film is, and always will be, my favorite Halloween movie. In those days the large amount of work done was put into the script and it characters. In our day films are filled with gallons of blood and gore, trumping all other emotions you feel while watching a Horror movie. The art of a good story has been covered up by the supposed demand that audiences want something fresh and different. Though it may be true that the public has moved on, I prefer to remain in my old fashioned ways and watch the classics over and over again.


As you may have noticed, I have been doing a few more posts recently after announcing that I've stopped. I hope that this will not confuse any readers. I discovered that I missed the way I had done posts in the past and that some of the little details, that I hoped to write about, couldn't fit in with my new plan.

So I have chosen to do a few more posts than I had anticipated and finish some of the ones I had abandoned last month. The format will be the same as I have done before, but I feel that my writing has changed slightly. I contribute this change to the removal of stress in achieving my deadlines and from the step back I took to analyze my work.

I hope that my work is interesting to you and that it also peaks your curiosity on the topics discussed. If my words have brought you to watch just one movie of the past then I have succeeded.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


This weeks post is dedicated to the creepiest men of Hollywood. Some used their talents of makeup and gestures to scare us, while others had a face & build already fit for that purpose. They may be known for their eerie voice or their silent expressions, but each of them had the ability of making your hair stand on end.

As I researched each one, I became surprised by how often their careers crossed each other. I have listed them below in their individual sections, but let me give you a quick summary.

Lon Chaney was the first well-known actor to play horror characters. When the film Dracula (1931) started production they had hoped to use him in the lead. Sadly, he passed away before they began work on it, and the studio turned to the Broadway Dracula star, Bela Lugosi. With the success of the film, Universal Studios began work on another project called Frankenstein (1931). Offering the role to their new star, Lugosi, he surprisingly turned it down upon discovering that there was no dialogue and that his face would be covered in makeup. This is when Boris Karloff came up for the lead.

All the while, Lon Chaney's son reached success under his fathers name and was found working along side Lugosi multiple times throughout each others career. There most notable pairing was in Abbott & Costello's Monster film Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Now onto the men that gave us real nightmares.

LON CHANEY (1883-1930)
Leonidas Frank Chaney

If you love the scary movies of the past, then you'll love Lon Chaney. His portrayals of abnormal creatures made him the name you looked for in films. Without the aid of our modern technology or even color he could transform himself into whatever figure that was asked of him. Not only could he shift his facial features with painful wires and elastic, he would also bend his limbs in order to look like the character.

As impressive as his shape-shifting talents were, it was his acting abilities that really made him popular for the screen. Through his sometimes painful posture, he could show you the soul of a beast and have you feeling sorry for that character. This created a different element to the Horror genre that is used even in our day with films like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) & King Kong (2005).

Chaney had etched a name for himself in the history of Hollywood, while also setting a high standard for others to reach for in the future. Sadly, I feel that noone has been able to surpass it.


LON CHANEY JR. (1906-1973)
Creighton Tull Chaney

Born under the banner of Chaney, he quickly desired to reach the success of his father and become a legend in Hollywood. His talent in shape-shifting was good, but the world had changed from the one his father knew. The Horror franchise had been dead, no pun intended, and the musical genre was champion in the studios.

His biggest role in the Horror world was that of the Wolf Man. No matter how many times I watch him change into the wild animal, I still find it difficult to see the same man under the costume. Just like his father, his talent of changing his characteristics was even more impressive than his makeup.

Sadly, he was never able to reach the success that his father had in the silent years of Hollywood. Regardless of this setback, he was the first to break ground on the Wolf Man and will forever be seen as the name connected with this creature.


BELA LUGOSI (1882-1956)
Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó

Mr. Lugosi and his Dracula uniform are inseparable. In fact, he was buried in full Dracula attire. Though you may think of him only as the vampire, he has quite the history with other monsters of the silver screen. The other day I watched The Wolf Man (1941) for my first time. In the beginning of the film I noticed a familiar face behind a gypsy mustache. Sure enough, it was Bela Lugosi in full gypsy fashion. This made me wonder what other films he was in. Below I have compiled images of some of the other horror-ific parts he has played.

There are a few interesting facts that I want to mention about Lugosi, one of which is that he was born just west of the real-life Transylvania. Then in 1927, Lugosi first started his depiction of Dracula on the Broadway stage. But it wasn't until 1931 that Universal Studios was ready to start working on a film for Dracula. Lon Chaney was set to be the lead but died of lung cancer the year before it's release. Lugosi had just moved to Hollywood a few years before and was the perfect pick for the part.

I discovered a website created by his son in honor of his father. Here is the link.


BORIS KARLOFF (1887-1969)
William Henry Pratt

In 1931, Universal Studios had begun working on a project for Frankenstein. With it's successful depiction of Dracula (1931), released earlier that year in February, they hoped to place Bela Lugosi as the lead. When Lugosi discovered that his face would be almost completely covered in heavy makeup and that there was no dialogue, he turned it down. Just by chance, Karloff had begun work with the studio only a year before.

His height and already distinct features made him the perfect candidate for the mindless monster. But these features would not be the only memorable part of his role. With his humble and kind demeanor, he gave the creature an added element of gentleness that the public had never seen before. For the first time, you saw that Frankenstein not only had feelings but was just wanting to understand the world around him.

With his great talents, Karloff has been able to reach out of the Halloween season and touch the Christmas one as well. With his horror-ific voice in How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), he showed us another side of him that was more true to home. In life, he was loved by children and admired for his humility by those who knew him. I would go on to talk about this great man, but I have a clip below that can do that for me. My mom mentioned that she saw this episode live and encouraged me to look it up, I'm glad I did. It is a three part segment and can be accessed fully on YouTube.



CLAUDE RAINS (1889-1967)
William Claude Rains

Very few actors have been able to be in a successful Horror film and move back into other projects. Rains Hollywood career had started with The Invisible Man (1933) as a direct result of his talented voice. But studios quickly discovered that his talents were beyond this role and he found himself in some of the best films of his time.

In 1943, he returned to the Horror genre with The Phantom of the Opera making it another classic. When you compare these two roles with each other you can not only see the ten year growth of Rains, but also his talented ability to make each part completely separate from the other.


VINCENT PRICE (1911-1993)
Vincent Leonard Price Jr.

Vincent Price has become synonymous with the Horror genre. His long figure with his lean face and shrill voice have made him a Halloween legend for spooky stories. He didn't need to wear as much makeup as the other actors, he was a character in himself.

Just like the other men mentioned above, he too was as different from his screen characters as you can get. Described as sweet, kind and almost boyish in real life, you realize that his acting was truly a gift.

There they are, my favorite scary men of the screen. Two other men that I wish to list as honorable mentions are Peter Lore & John Carradine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10,000 HITS

When I logged in this afternoon to check on my blog, I was welcomed by a five-digit number, 10,000. I am very proud to reach this milestone within my first year and I look forward to seeing what that number will be in the future.

Thank you for your interest in the entertainment of yesteryear. If you find a post or topic that you like, I would love to hear what you think about it. At this moment, I am working on a post dedicated to the creepy men of Hollywood. I hope you all enjoy your week.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Last week, I announced that I'm no longer following the set plan of posts I created last year. What I do want to continue, however, is mention my top ten favorite films around my genre themed months. This month is in honor of the mystery & thrillers of years gone by.

My wife and I really get into this month of October and we've already decked out the house in Halloween fashion. Though we have a graveyard on display out front, we tend to shy away from the blood and gore you may see at other doors. The same thing transfers into our movie collection. Our favorite scary films will most likely make your hair stand on end then have your stomach turning. For all those Vintage Horror fans out there, you may be saddened by my lack of interest in your genre, but I dare you to take a look at my top ten and see if you still get entertained.

What also makes this month even better is that some of my favorite spooky films are some of my favorite comedies. As you can see from the list below, I prefer a mixture of fright and light humor.

#1: Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

With Dracula and Frankenstein united and transported to the states, Dracula plans to revive the monster who is growing weaker with time. The solution to this problem is a new brain, but not one that would cause even more trouble. They need a brain that would be manageable and dim-witted. That's where Wilbur comes in. What they don't know is that Wilbur has been nothing but trouble to any one he encounters, especially his best friend Chick. With mysterious woman, eerie music and a full cast of whose who in the horror world, this film proves to be frighteningly entertaining.

This was my all-time favorite movie as a kid, I must have watched it a hundred times. This movie has it all; Frankenstein, Dracula and the Werewolf. What also makes it a favorite among horror fans, is that it stars the original actors who are inseparably connected to there famous roles. When Boris Karloff was asked to join the cast as his iconic depiction of the mindless monster, he turned it down failing to see how comedy and horror could exist in the same picture. After he saw the success of the film, he quickly joined the duo in Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949). One scene I could never watch fully, till my teens, was when Lon Chaney Jr. turns into the Wolf Man with Wilbur nearby.

Chick Young: "I know there's no such person as Dracula. You know there's no such person as Dracula."
Wilbur Grey: "But does Dracula know it?"

#2: Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)

Mortimer is the most eligible bachelor in town and hates marriage to the extent of writing a book on it. All this changes when he falls for the ministers daughter next door, Elaine. Keeping this event a secret is the worst of his troubles, when he discovers a dark tradition kept by his aunts, Abby & Martha. Unknown to the community, and their own family, they have been silently executing lonely aged men who come to them seeking a place to stay. To Mortimer's shock, his aunts feel that they are in the right and reveal their past to him as if they were giving him a simple recipe. Things become even more complicated when his brother and nemesis, Jonathan, moves in suddenly and threatens Mortimer's life once again. A confused new bride, a plastic surgeon sidekick, and an oddball Teddy Roosevelt, add to this already comically spooky film.

Made by one of the greatest directors of all-time, Frank Capra, Arsenic & Old Lace is as iconic with Halloween as It's A Wonderful Life (1946) is with Christmas. As weird as it may seem, my family considers this film to be romantic. In fact, a proposal has occurred while it was playing. Cary Grant gives one of his best performances here, mixing in his comedy with his serious, yet still suave, characteristics. This isn't just an oddball comedy, it is spectacularly spooky.

Mortimer Brewster: "When you say 'others,' do you mean others? More than one others?"

#3: Scared Stiff (1953)

Larry has gotten in deep with the gangster mob, Shorty, by running around with his girl. With some coaxing, Myron is sent out to talk Shorty out of killing his friend. There is only one problem with this, Myron has no spine, but in his attempt to get away he gets pulled right back in. In a random turn of events, someone is murdered and Larry thinks he's the killer. After an escape from the hotel, the two end up on a cruise ship headed for Havana with a beautiful lady, Mary. The trip isn't all roses though, as they head towards Mary's inheritance, an island that claims to be haunted. The night holds a special treat for all of them as they battle unknown ghosts, zombies and each others nerves.

This may be more comedy than spooks, but it scared the heck out of me when I was a kid. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Martin & Lewis movie and is quoted often among my family. It was this film that converted my wife to black & whites.

Myron Mertz: "Yes, you see when I was a little boy I was awful, and when my mother called me she'd have to say: 'Myron, MYRON!' So it's Myron Myron."

#4: Midnight Lace (1960)

Kit and Anthony are a newlywed couple who are enjoying a business trip in England. But when Kit is singled out in the heavy fog by an eerie voice that wants to kill her, she begins to loose her sanity. Just when things begin to return to normal, the phone rings again and she is reminded of her date with destiny. The Scotland Yard finds it not only hard to follow the predator, but they can't even prove that he actually exists, so they begin to doubt her. Each encounter with her stalker proves even deadlier, when she is suddenly pushed in front of a bus. In an attempt to catch the villain, her husband comes up with a plan to catch him in the act with the police close by. When the police don't come, she finds herself alone with the killer.

Not only is this film surprisingly unknown, it is also highly expensive to purchase online. I was greatly relieved to find it available on YouTube, so I could show the film to my wife. She squirmed the whole time. Doris Day's performance here came four years after her intense portrayal in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). I feel her acting here was even more intense and that the chemistry with Rex was even better. One thing that you may not have noticed before, is that the suspenseful music in this film is the same exact score, written by Frank Skinner, in Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Killer: "Careful, Mrs. Preston. I wouldn't want you to get hurt. Not yet."

#5: Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad (1949)

Ichabod is the new school teacher in town and quickly becomes known to the community. When a women gets involved, Crane becomes the enemy of her other love interest, Brom Bones. As Crane begins to prove himself as a worthy adversary, Brom resorts to superstitions to scare Ichabod away. His actions prove successful, as Crane cowers his way home through the hallow. There he encounters the villain described in Brom's story, the Headless Horsemen. In a mad attempt for the bridge, they encounter each other throughout the ride. If Crane passes the bridge then the horseman looses his power. But if he is stopped, then the rider will take his head as a prize.

Almost everyone has seen this classic tale from the work of Disney. With Bing Crosby as both the narrator & music talent, this film introduces a unique way of storytelling, combined with a catchy set of songs set to Halloween.

Narrator: "Don't try to figure out a plan. You can't reason with a headless man."

#6: Wait Until Dark (1967)

Susy is not your average woman. Through blindness she has learned each inch of her world through touch without the aid of light. When her husband Sam leaves for work, she soon becomes the victim of three men looking for a stash of drugs that was placed somewhere in her apartment. Assuming that she knows where the package is, the men start with a psychological threat in hopes that she will reveal the location. But when her other senses prove that they are not as they seem, she digs in for defense. Using the dark as her ally, she goes up against the worst of the three, Roat, in self defense.

In my youth, I played the part of Sam in this play. Though the play is scary in itself, watching this movie in the dark can be much much scarier. Audrey Hepburn did a fantastic job portraying a blind woman who not only faces the challenge of life with her disability, but the threat of a drug lord whose out to get her. The lunging scene still gets me.

Susy Hendrix: "Where is it? Where is it? OH GOD!"

#7: And Then There Were None (1945)

Ten seemingly random people find themselves invited to a remote island at the request of a Mister Owen. As they sit down for a pleasant evening in the parlor, a record player reveals each person by name, with their associated crimes that they've kept hidden. before they can recover from this shock, one of them is poisoned. Curious as to which one is the murderer, one by one they are killed by an unknown hand. All of this tension is added to the aiding lyrics of an old nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Indians," which reveals the killers next move with each verse.

This is the perfect 'who done it.' Is it the doctor, the lawyer, the butler, or the mysterious man who denies everything? What also makes this film a favorite of mine, is the talent of Walter Huston, Barry Fitzgerald & Richard Haydn. Though the acting made it a great film, the story written by the amazing Agatha Christie made it a classic.

Judge Francis J. Quinncannon: "Mr. Owen could only come to the island in one way. It's perfectly clear. Mr. Owen is one of us."

#8: Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Henry is a husband whose gambling habits have gotten him into trouble with the wrong crowd. Leona is his rich wife who has become psychologically bed ridden. Through time there marriage has turned into shambles and their love has been replaced with hatred. When his wife picks up the receiver at a random moment, she overhears a conversation plotting to kill someone that night. With the phone as her only connection to the outside world, she can't reach her husband and the police wont believe her. Tension builds, when suddenly she hears someone downstairs in their empty home and her fright paralyzes her to the bed.

The ending of this film will surprise you, that's for certain. I won't ruin it for you; you'll just have to watch it yourself. Burt Lancaster & Barbra Stanwyck may not have had the best chemistry, but that's what made this film work even better. This story was first presented in radio form and its growing popularity made for a perfect thriller movie.

Prologue: "In the tangled networks of a great city, the telephone is the unseen link between a million lives... it is the servant of our common needs ~~ the confidante of our inmost secrets... life and happiness wait upon its ring... and horror... and loneliness... and... death!"

#9: Charade (1963)

Regina is notified that her estranged husband has been found dead. At the funeral, a list of old WWII friends come to pay their chilling tribute. Unknown to his wife, her husband had stolen a lot of money during the war with these men, but it disappeared at his death. In her search for the killer and the money, she encounters a charming man who changes his identity constantly. As threats build and bodies begin to turn up, she is confused by whose the killer and whom she can trust.

What would you get if you put Wait Until Dark & Arsenic & Old Lace together in one movie. The answer could be Grant & Hepburn's, Charade. Both are professional thrillers and, at the same time, perfect for portraying a compromising love interest.

Inspector Grandpierre: "Three of them. All in their pyjamas? C'est ridicule! What is it, some new American fad?"

#10: The 39 Steps (1935)

Hannay suddenly finds himself accused of murdering a woman who was being chased by a spy ring. Just when he thinks he is done hiding, he soon finds himself in the hands of the enemy and hand-cuffed to a beautiful woman who doubts his story. Pushing along against all odds, he schemes a plan to get the police involved and solve the mystery himself. A part of his plan soon becomes more dangerous than they anticipated, as the evil organization and the police trail him at the same time.

I consider this early work of Hitchcock to be his best. It has all the elements of a thriller with a killer ending. This movie was mixed in with a bunch of his younger workings and it was in poor quality. Yet, since the beginning scene, I could tell there was something special about it. You have to see it for yourself.

Hannay: "What are the thirty-nine steps?"

There they are, my favorite vintage films to watch in October.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I regret to announce that I am discontinuing future posts for this blog. My original goal was to post once a day for a whole year. I had hoped to gain a group of similar fans and create a discussion on old movies and entertainers. Though these ideas will never be completely realized, in retrospect, I have accomplished quite a few achievements.

From December 18th, 2011 to this day, I have created over two-hundred posts. Some of them may have been a quick update on my next project, but the majority of them were done on a larger scale. Each post required a certain amount of time for research, writing and then editing. Pictures, videos, quotes, facts, family ties and other bits of information were gathered and then organized before I presented them to the public.

Another achievement, of which I am very proud, is the amount of recorded traffic I have had on this site. As of today, I am just shy of 10,000 hits. This number, to me, is earth-shattering as I had no idea that this was such a popular subject. A large amount of my traffic seems to come from an interest in pictures that I've posted.

The reason for this decision has been the result of multiple issues. The first of them was time. You may be surprised by the amount of time it takes to create a single post. Another factor was popularity, I call it blogging blindly. With each new post, I never knew if I was making an impact. It has been some time since I have received any feedback and I've wondered if anyone reads my posts at all.

One other reason, for this choice, is that the program I used to create my many collages has changed their format and made it virtually impossible for me to continue on with its new direction. Though this is not the primary issue for stopping my blog, it was the added weight that tipped the scales.

I hope that I have not depicted this blogging experience to have been a negative one. In fact, it has been one of the best experiences in my life. The information that I uncovered has become a treasure, to me, without price. My understanding of the early days of Hollywood has greatly shifted and my admiration for the films and stars of the past has grown to a greater level.

In short, pictures that were unknown to me became cherished works of art, and stars that were previously beyond my view found themselves among my favorite constellations. I invite you to view my posts and learn for yourself the great work these men and women did to entertain an age gone by. Their work was as risky as it was noble, as fascinating as it was simple.

I believe that if the families of our day would begin to watch these films more, the common issues we face would slowly disappear and this country would once again value the traits of their ancestors. It does not matter if the film is in black & white, it does not matter if there is no dialogue. The films of the past often contain in them the secrets to a happy society and only after you begin to watch them, can you begin to see that the they express the most important rule of all... "Love thy neighbor."

I may do a post here and there in the future, but as of now I am leaving the designing board as I go on to watch Vintage Media.

Monday, September 17, 2012

ERROL FLYNN (1909-1959)


Born: June 20th, 1909 (Australia)

Died: October 14th, 1959 (heart attack)

Marriages: Lili Damita (1935-1942), Nora Eddington (1943-1948), Patrice Wymore (1950-His death)

Children: His first child was a son with Lili Damita who became a photo journalist, Sean Flynn. With Nora he had two children, Deirdre & Rory. With his last wife, Patrice, they had a daughter named Arnella.

Awards: He was never nominated for an Oscar, but received two Golden Globes, two Bambi Awards and has a star on the Walk of Fame.

Interesting Fact: Before the outbreak of WWII, he went with an old friend to document the wars occurring in Spain. Unknown to Flynn, his friend was working undercover for a rising Hitler. When the news spread of this breach, the finger was pointed at Flynn. Though an extensive amount of research has proved that Flynn had no involvement in the espionage, this event greatly scarred Flynn's personal life. A similar story was portrayed in Disney's, The Rocketeer (1991) by Timothy Dalton who played a movie star with Flynn's characteristics named Neville Sinclair.

My Favorite Movie: Gentleman Jim (1942). This has been considered as Flynn's favorite film. Though his character was not in the full fashioned garb that Flynn was comfortable in on screen, this part gave him a chance to bust open his talent and endeavor in another one of his youthful pleasures. I find his acting is this film both genuine and humbling.

"All my life the one thing I feared the most was mediocrity."

Errol Flynn is quite the popular movie star legend. His acting history along with his personal history were both epic and adventurous. As I began to research him a little farther, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information you can find about him online. I wouldn't recommend that you use these sources as your soul understanding of Flynn, but would rather suggest that you purchase TCM Errol Flynn collection which includes an in-depth biography on his life on and off the screen titled, The Adventures of Errol Flynn (2005).

To Flynn, acting was one of his many adventurous hobbies. For a time he could come and go as he pleased on the set, if the production was not to his fancy. This type of attitude does not come off on the screen however, that was apart of his talent. No matter what turmoil, no matter what mood, he could always deliver. His characters became real to the audiences and he would became immortalized in that setting and yet he could move onto another subject matter and surprise you all over again. From his star breaking role in Captain Blood (1935) to his self revealing role in Too Much, Too Soon (1958), he gave each performance a certain charm and romanticism that was unique to only one man, Errol Flynn.

If you cant find his collection, that I mentioned above,
you can view the entire film here.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Studio: Columbia Pictures

Producer: Jerry Wald & Jonie Taps

Director: George Sidney

Music: George Duning

Release Date: June 21, 1956

Awards: It was nominated for four separate Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Sound & Best Writing. It was also nominated for a DGA award as well as a WGA award.

Origination: Based on the life and sudden death of renown piano player, Eddy Duchin.

Interesting Fact: The soundtrack and piano playing sequences were done with the talent of piano player Carmen Cavallero.

Eddy Duchin: What I want to know is why! Why do they have to destroy a man twice? You work and work and just what do you get? Everything, when it gets too good they take it away.
Eddy Duchin was a famous piano player with humble beginnings. On his path to success, he experienced multiple set backs, including the death of his own wife after giving birth to their only son. His ability at the piano was as entertaining as it was unique. Some of his best songs are played in this film. Duchin is played by Tyrone Power, who filled the role perfectly. This is my favorite bio-pic.

Power had expressed remorse that Duchin died at such a young age of forty-one. Less than two years after the release of this film, Power's passed away as a result of a massive heart attack at the age of forty-four. My mother told me that she cried for weeks.

A beloved scene from the film.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Studio: Universal Pictures

Producer: Robert Arthur

Director: Joseph Pevney

Music: Frank Skinner

Release Date: August 13, 1957

Awards: Nominated for the Best Writing Academy Award.

Origination: Based on the life of silent film actor Lon Chaney Sr.

Interesting Fact: Chaney starred in the 1919 film version of The Miracle Worker, which was adapted to the stage and starred George M. Cohan in the cast. Cohan was another individual to be reprised by James Cagney.

Lon Chaney: The kind of fellows I play, pretty girls don't write to.
Very few biographies on actors of the silent era had been done when this movie was released. Films had been done on figures like Al Jolson who had been the forefront leader into talkies, but it was Lon Chaney who was far more unique than any other performer. His talent as an actor was more than a portrayal of a character, it was a work of art. Complex makeup combined with painful posture were limits that Chaney went beyond. Through his talent of shape shifting and study of the character he could make you feel sorry for the ugliest of characters. He was a true genius!

This film, though at times slightly inaccurate, brings to light some of his work through the talents of James Cagney. I feel that Cagney does a fantastic job, which compliments the already fascinating story of Lon Chaney's life. Cagney would go through some of the same shape shifting routines, but may have not gone as far as Chaney. All-in-all, this story is heart wrenching and eye opening.

This is the first of a two part film dedicated the talent of Lon Chaney Sr.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Productions

Producer: Samuel Goldwyn

Director: Sam Wood

Music: Leigh Harline

Release Date: July 14, 1942

Awards: It was nominated for eleven Oscars, winning only one of them for Best Film Editing. The nominations were for: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Music, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Original Story & Best Screenplay.

Origination: Based on the legendary Major League Baseball player, given the name "Iron Horse." Lou Gehrig was one of the first notable figures to be diagnosed with a disease that later bear his name and took his life only seventeen months before this film was released.

Interesting Fact: Gary Cooper was right-handed in comparison to Lou Gehrig's left handed swings. To pull off such a stunt, they reversed the numbers on the uniforms and had Cooper run to third base instead of first. The film was then reversed before the final cut.

Lou Gehrig: Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
This film was an instant success at it's release and has withstood the test of time. To this day, it is the example of what an athletic biography should be like. It is as emotional as is it is fascinating all while portraying baseball history in the making. This film has become a treasure for any fan of the sport, with cameo appearances of some of Gehrig's teammates, most notably Babe Ruth.

With Gary Cooper at the lead, he would give one of his best performances and sealed a fitting tribute to the man who played 2,130 consecutive games. He effectively depicted the spirit and strength of Gehrig's persona and, in turn, the American dream. This is not just one of the best biographies of the past, but also one of the greatest films of the past.
The climatic Lou Gehrig speech.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Studio: RKO Radio Pictures

Producer: George Haight

Director: H. C. Potter

Music: Robert Russell Bennett (lyrics) & Irving Berlin (music)

Release Date: March 29th, 1939

Awards: In 2006 it was nominated for the Best Classic DVD.

Origination: Based on the book, My Husband and My Memories of Vernon Castle, written by Irene Castle.

Interesting Fact: This was the last Astaire & Rogers film with RKO, where they had made nine films together. Ten years later they starred again as a couple in their final film together in The Barkleys of Broadway (1949).

Irene: "You could be a perfectly wonderful dancer if you wanted to."

I just watched this last night to refresh myself with the film. This movie is a fitting tribute to both Mr. & Mrs. Castle as well as the Astaire & Rogers partnership. The Hollywood couple had been in eight other films, by this time, and were now at their partnership prime. The routines they dance are gorgeous and you can't help but smile as you watch them glide across the floor.

Now on the story of Vernon & Irene Castle. It is a story of determination & love. I don't think I have seen such a romantic film, as this, in a long time. Europe and America fell in love with them as this couple changed the world of dance and ballroom. If you love anything about dance you need to see this film.

Here is a tribute video I found on


Monday, September 3, 2012


Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Producer: Jack Cummings

Director: Sam Wood

Music: Adolph Deutsch

Release Date: May 12th, 1949

Awards: It won the Best Writing Oscar at the Academy Awards and received two Photoplay Awards.

Origination: This story is based on the life of Major League Baseball pitcher, Monty Stratton.

Interesting Fact: This was the first of three films to cast Jimmy Stewart & June Allyson as husband & wife. The other two were The Glenn Miller Story (1954) & Strategic Air Command (1955).

Ethel Stratton: You told me once, "A man has to know where he's goin'!" Where are you goin', Monty?
This is one of those unkown films that has an amazing cast, a great story and a powerful message. Jimmy Stewart plays Monty Stratton, whose love of baseball got him out of poverty and into the Major Leagues. His fame and talent continued to grow until a fateful accident, which resulted in the removal of his right leg at the knee. With his career at an end, he sinks into a quite depression, of which, only his wife can pull him out. So she begins to offer herself for pitching practice. While she begins to learn a littlle bit more about baseball, he begins to light the fire within him to return to the sport. This is an amazing film.

Stewarts tall and lanky shape made him a perfect candidate for Monty Stratton. Most notable though, is Stewarts performance with only one leg. His chemistry with June Allyson was evident, as they were paired two more times as husband and wife. Frank Morgan is much different in this film then you may be use to seeing him. Tough on his luck, he looks at eveything under his eyebrows. Agnes portrays the sinical yet loving mother who can't figure how someone could make money throwing a ball.



When I began theme centered months, I chose to publish posts themed around my all-time favorite inspirational films. I quickly saw that a line had to be drawn between fictional and non-fictional. As many of my favorite films were not true stories, I chose to put off non-fictional until a later time. Finally that time has come.

The term that best describes this kind of genre is Bio-pics. Bio-pics are a portrayal of a historical individual whose life left a notable legacy. First I must acknowledge that the complete story depicted on film, may not have necessarily been an accurate representation on the individuals life. In fact, many of them have filler romances or side events to keep the audiences entertained. These films do, however, create an awareness of the persons work, though however small that work may have been.

Their have been films on men of knowledge, entertainers, song-writers, athletes, world leaders and even biblical figures. Their stories have been told through gripping dramas, epic box-office busters and even musical routines. What may have been the most important part of the production is the casting of the leading man or lady. If they match up the right actor with the right story, then you have movie magic that stands the test of time.

Here are my top ten:

#10: Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

I have found it hard to think on Hans Christian Andersen without Danny Kaye coming to mind. He was the perfect pick for this film and his dancing and singing was just right for the musical story telling. Some of my favorite songs came from this soundtrack, but that's not the only thing I love about it. This movie taught me that an adult can have an imagination too.

#9: Spartacus (1960)

This story of a fighting slave rising against the greatest army of it's time, is beyond epic. Kirk Douglas became a whole new person to me in his portrayal of the slave known as Spartacus. Though the battles may be inaccurate and his final ending Hollywoodized, this film makes for a great story about a real man that existed during the reign of Rome.

#8: El Cid (1961)

For an actor who played the prophet Moses only five years earlier in Cecil B DeMille's epic production, The Ten Commandments (1956), he certainly proved that he could adapt to any role. This movie began my interest in the legends of old as I became moved and motivated by the loyalty and honesty of "The Cid". Heston's performance brought a lot of power to this role, as did all the other stars in this film.

#7: Gentlemen Jim (1942)

This was the film that began my interest in Errol Flynn. All the other films I had seen of him would depict an invincible character who could overcome any odds stacked against him. This movie knocks him around a little bit... Literally! He was an unlikely victor against men twice his size, but his upbringing of Irish spirit pushed him to the top.

#6: The Stratton Story (1949)

This film was unknown to me when I bought a Jimmy Stewart package of films. I watched it with skepticism, as I had never heard of it, and finished it with an unbelievable shock. This story is fantastic! Stewart's performance on one leg is something I had never seen done by any other leading actor like him. Frank Morgan's performance is also notable as a polar opposite from most of his cast types.

#5: Edison, the Man (1940)

This is not only an epic film on the most influential man of America, but one of the greatest stories on overcoming failure. I had always thought of Edison as a successful business man with great ideas, but I had no idea the struggles he faced to achieve the dreams he had that would change the way we live today. No other actor would have been fitting for the job then, the legendary himself, Spencer Tracy. I can't imagine a Cooper, Grant or Stewart in the same role. Tracy was perfectly capable of bringing the struggle and inventive spark to his performance.

#4: The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

I have placed this film in my top-ten, not just for Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers performance, but also to bring to light this amazing story that has been stored away from the publics view since its production. If you love anything about dancing, this film is for you. Not only does it tell you the true story of one of dances most influential couple in history, but it tells you their story through the only couple right for the job... The greatest dancing couple of Hollywood.

#3: Pride of the Yankees (1942)

I'm aware that this film is known by almost everyone, but I had to place it near the top. Partly for Gary Coopers humble performance of the even humbler "Iron Horse" who played 2,130 consecutive games. But, largely for the story it tells of a man who fought harder than most, until he literally didn't have any more strength. This film is an inspiration to all ages! One other item that makes this film lovable is the casting of Babe Ruth as himself throughout the picture.

#2: Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

This one isn't very well known and I scratch my head at the thought. Lon Chaney Sr., the man whom this film is about, was one the most influential actors in early Hollywood. His ability to transform his appearance and figure was the result of determined conditioning and raw talent that we rarely see in performers today. He didn't just pretend to be another person, he did everything in his power to know and feel what that person was. In this film, you see a large glimpse of his career and life through the amazing talent of James Cagney.

#1: The Eddy Duchin Story (1956)

You may be wondering why a piano player is at the top of the list. This isn't a film about a man who conquered or reshaped the world. It's not about a man who made life easier for generations to come or had a large fan base like an athlete. No, this story is about one mans talent that changed MY outlook on life. This was the film, first of all, that sold me on Tyrone Power's ability as an actor. Here you see the rise of one man from the slums to greatness, all with the use of his speedy little hands. My jaw still drops as I contemplate the complexity of the music that is effortlessly being poured out of the piano.

What inspired me most about this movie, is that I never thought something so impossible could look so easy to do. In other words, all the other topics listed above where things that I may never have a chance at. Playing the piano, however, was something I was familiar with, which makes this story more personal for me. What also puts this movie at the top, is that Eddy Duchin's sudden death at a young age, greatly effected Tyrone Power. Power, himself, would pass away only two years after this film was released and at the similarly young age of forty-four.

Well, there they are. As I do with every post, I wish to apologize if I have left out a key one for you. Comment below if you have one that I have not listed that is among your favorites.