FANG MALE : A LOOK AT THE HORROR MEDIA

The following words are a shameless plug as they appear in my current ebook and soon to be print SCREEN AND SCREEN AGAIN.    Not much change in Halloween which has just passed us by except the people.  Who would have dreamed of a  24 hour channel for Classic film that would thrive and bring people together.   However that channel in question does reflect societies  slightly homogenized look at Art as it excludes most of the world from its BACK LOT services due administration costs.  These  matters have not been dealt with in several years prompting on to think of BACK LOT as closed door community.

Television has taken over from film as the chief ground-breaking media to deliver horror.  The   large amount of supernatural television series which many know already, gets the viewer every week or every month with new tales of terror.  The monsters have progressed a long way from the days of Shock Theater.  Then of course, one has the rise of Specialty channels bringing content of various styles to be viewed anywhere, anytime. No hunting in the TV guides for these titles.

Film all over the world showcased various horror tales.  Released in sub-titled or the hideous dubbed versions brings stories from India, Mexico, Iran, Latin America, and Europe to your theatre or DVD/Blu-Ray player. These pictures often touch on dark areas beyond North American subjects, as they are often made by independent film makers.  Indeed, independent film-making as a process, plus sites such as Vimo tube and others, deliver these creative and not-so-creative examples right to your device of choice.  Conventions where horror fans get together are often flooded with film entries and fiction entries as these gatherings become showcases for new work.  The trouble with this flood of material being that sometimes there is a lack of knowledge of film-making skills such as pace of actors, and often a dependence on creating special make-up effects for the sake of doing them because they are cool.  I suggest that somewhere out there a new crop of film people will emerge.

Mainstream horror is another matter, as it tends to concentrate more on creation of franchises. I had watched THE NUN (2018) having no idea it was part of the Insidious franchise.

The lowly newsprint magazines, with apologizes to SCARY MONSTERS (which is a darn fine magazine), have evolved into glossy, large-format books.  Magazines that disappeared from print have made their return.  The electronic magazine, which I think works more than the eBook, has opened up the forum for writers and coverage is at an all-time high.

Comics and graphic novels have blossomed, with horror titles growing as monthly stories. Even established characters such as Archie have their own horror series — which is actually pretty cool with Jughead as a werewolf.

Books of studies of the genre, which once only went up to the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974), now abound on shelves.  Authors such as Gregory William Mank, Jonathan Rigby, Kim Newman, and David Skal have produced wonderfully researched books on actors, behind the scenes books, and studies.  These join the dog-eared copies of Carlos Claren’s AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE HORROR FILM, Drake Douglas’s HORRORS! and Dennis Gifford’s  MOVIE MONSTERS on shelves of fans, along with many others by current film people.   Academic courses in Gothic Literature and the Horror Film are taught in some schools using the seminal collection of essays called HORROR FILM READER by Alain Silver and James Ursini as one text book

SCREEN AND SCREEN AGAIN is available on all Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites

 

 

HOUSE OF THE WOLFMAN (2009)

The original UNIVERSAL STUDIOS Monster cycle of  films needs no introduction. They have become part of film folklore from images to  quotes such as ‘He meddled with things Man was meant to leave alone.’ or  “I never drink wine.”  Tributes have been done to death or undeath from THE MUNSTERS  TV series that only ran two seasons and was cancelled at the height of the ‘monster boom” by executives who said that the monsters would never last to the overplayed YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) which was  ruined for me by the presence of Gene Wilder and his  shrieking during the creation sequence.  That is why when one finds a  picture made with style, love and respect for that period, it is pretty cool to see.   Hence I turn my gaze to  the independent film HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN  (2009)
Fandom steps in when major studios don’t get it right. The backlash against the Tom Cruise version of THE MUMMY (2017) as an action story is an example of,  “Stop meddling with things man was meant to leave alone.”  Taking its place alongside the other great tributes to Universal Studio Horror is HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN (2009).
This picture,  which was made by Taurus Entertainment, is presently only available as a DVD release.  From what I have seen it is well worth a look. It is shot in the style of Universal Studios films in glorious black and white with full 1.33  aspect ratio. Director Eben McGarr gave the picture not an antiquated look; instead, to me it looks like scenes from Tim Burton’s brilliant film ED WOOD (1994).
The monsters  and the advertising hearkens back to those ‘monster rallies’ of the late forties by listing  in bold letters that  the monsters  are  “Together Again.” Missing this time around is  the Hunchback. He was replaced by the Witch. The Mad Doctor role is not seeking a cure in the form of  fungus to build bones or blood injections  for Dracula.  The Doctor becomes the Wolfman , who is played by Lon Chaney Jr’s grandson Ron with full histrionics in the role.
The transformations are lovingly handled with  homage to the Jack Pierce changes.  Ron Chaney literally rips it up on screen with dialogue as vengeful as Lionel Atwill in any of his “mad  genius” roles on any given day.
The story is similar  to THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932). Five people are invited by Doctor Bela Reinhardt (Ron Chaney) to his home on a dark night to see who will inherit his  estate. Fun and games erupts as the five people are stalked by the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and a Witch.
The  general  acting suffers in films such as these: they are not professionals. One can see in some of the group movement that  the director was motioning them to all run this way or that way.
The picture is well paced and cut with Michael R. Thomas looking striking as a Lugosi like vampire that brings to mind ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), and a twinge (unfortunately) of  Ed Wood’s infamous and still fun PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE (1959). The Wolfman himself is realized on screen by  Billy Bussy. He has the  tortured mannerisms  down, plus the rapid movement of the original.
The Frankenstein Monster (Craig Dabbs) looks more like a cross between the Hammer  Studios version and a fire scarred  Boris Karloff  from BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).
Many little nuances add to the  fun of the picture with people dressed in varsity style jackets like college kids of the day.  The  blonde hair is present as tribute to Gloria Stuart from THE OLD  DARK HOUSE (1932).  The diseased  face of  Leo G Carroll’s  character  Prof. Gerald Deemer is from  Universal Pictures TARANTULA (1955) can be found in the doorman’s visage as the door opens, allowing guests to enter.
HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN (2009) is great fun with the  star onscreen and the name of  Ron Chaney.   From the  film’s  trailer to the music by Nate Scott,  it’s clear this is a labor of love. No gore, just plain fun to see the  monsters  doing their bit again after falling out of a  window to the rocks below while facing Abbott AND COSTELLO in 1948. The monsters don’t even have to go down to ROUTE 66  in this one.

 

ONCE A THIEF (1965)

The little things you find when you walk into a shop – like Alain Delon’s character did  in ONCE A THIEF (1965). This Ralph Nelson directed picture is a stylish thriller from the opening frame to the end titles.   The  opening sequence, shot  in a  San Francisco jazz club, features a drum solo inter-cut with audience members  that toss in comments. These people have  stories themselves; either in the their tone,  their look,  or their interaction with those around.  The titles move in and out of the frame, blending and creating jarring effects similar to those of PSYCHO (1960).  The  city’s mood is a period of style and grace following a brutal crime committed by a man driving an antique car.

 

The story is a mixture of Film Noir themes:  mistaken identity, murder and trying to beat the past, all shot in glorious black and white in San Francisco. The city  itself never looked so desolate with concrete, neon, hills, dark shadows, and  sleazy clubs.

Ex-convict Ed Pedak (Alain Delon)  tries to lead a normal family life with his loyal wife Kristine (Ann Margret) and their daughter, as well as a regular  job as a truck driver.   Detective Mike Vido (Van Heflin) enters Ed Pedak’s life  as a robbery takes place in a Chinatown store that bears the same trappings of one perpetrated by Pedak that sent him to jail for two years.   Vido is tormented by Pedak going free as it was Pedak that shot him in the stomach during the past robbery attempt.  Vido carries the bullet casing as a reminder.   Vido is determined  to get Pedak, no matter the cost. He begins to follow him.   Money grows short for Ed and his wife  Kristine as his ambition is to buy a fishing boat and have his own business. He puts a down payment on the same night as the Chinatown robbery.  Ed’s prosperous  brother Walter (Jack Palance), comes to visit with the opportunity of  one night’s work and a big payoff.  Ed refuses to do the job, but then   events  change as he loses his job driving as he is arrested by Vido for the Chinatown caper.  Ed passes a  lineup without being identified and is freed but still has no job.    Kristina takes a job as a hostess in bar which means skimpy costume, late hours, no wedding band worn and lots of tip money.  The way is clear as signs point  to Ed helping his brother.

Alain Delon is brilliant in the role of Ed Pedak with just the right amount of  new comer charm of a person trying to make good.  He is cynical and icy at various junctures of the story. Tender with his family and at the same time capable of explosive physical violence as shown in a tense moment with Ann Margret in the club she is forced to work at.

Delon has the icy eyes that all film Noir folk have in some shape or form which change with each emotive moment.  He moves with the grace and style of a dancer  and this gives good flow to the scenes while also accenting the other characters.

 

Ann Margret  was 24 years old when she appeared in ONCE A THIEF. She was a rising star at the time, and romantically linked  with Elvis Presley during the making of VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964).  Margret gives Kristina the depth of loyalty and shows love both for her family and and daughter. She does face physical abuse in this picture  that is strong even for today.  The abuse sets up the  screams,  and her missing child is kidnapped by one of the greedy henchman,  a blonde albino in sun glasses, who has a voice like sandpaper, called Sargatanas (John David Chandler).

 

The actor who steals the show by just walking on is  Van Heflin as the tormented Mike Vido.  Helflin is no stranger to Film Noir nor playing policeman of a different stripe.  He gives Mike Vido enough surface pain in his walk and mannerisms to show he remains in physical pain  from his healed stomach wound.  Helfin’s voice is similar to  actor Charles McGraw whose gravelly tones and  granite jaw looks added to any film he was in.

 

Jack Palance as Ed’s  brother Walter sleazes in and out of scenes with those tones in  his voice promising all will be well for one night’s work. Palance  fits in the cesspool of characters, along with the homicidal albino Sargatanas and Shoestein (Tony Musante). Shoestein is a particular piece of work as his broken front teeth (that he never fixes) are knocked out in a graphic fight sequence. Shoestein laughs, smiles, and provides muscle  to match his blind obedience.

 

The picture was  written by Zekial Marko, who is no less colorful than the people in the film. Marko was cast as a pot smoker  who shares a cell with Alain Delon.  Trouble was,  Marko was a real life pot user at the time when it was not good to be and was arrested during the making of the film.  He was  jailed the night before  an early call to shoot  his  scene. 

ONCE  A THIEF (1965) is well made with a  European style and flavor close in impact to the classic RIFIFI (1965). Special mention goes to Lalo Schifrin for the music throughout the film, particularly the opening credits.  The picture  has  grace,  characters,  look and the feel of cold wind  down a street at night.   Gritty for its time as  film began to get more explicit  in violence.  Well worth seeing anytime.  Especially night with the lights low.

THE RIGHT TO LIVE (1935)

Warner Brothers takes a dip into the non-gangster market with director William Keighley. He may have seen this as an assignment to get over and done with.  Keightley would work with James Cagney many times and  be in the director’s chair for  co direction credit  in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938).

THE RIGHT TO LIVE (1935) or the original title,  THE SACRED FLAME,  presents a ‘woman’s picture’  with all its tenderhearted  intentions.  The acting of the  ensemble cast, lead on the poster by Josephine Hutchinson and  George Brent, have the film stolen away from them by Colin Clive and  Peggy Wood.

The story moves along quickly as the running time is only a  little over  sixty minutes in North America, cutting a full fifteen minutes from the UK release. Maurice Trent (Clive) is a happy, go lucky, very much in love with Stella Trent  (Hutchinson) fellow. Maurice and  Stella have a lovely country house and share the joy of adventures  to come.    Maurice’s mother  (Henrietta Crosman) comes for a  visit when the unthinkable happens as they are driving to the house.   The horrified family witness the plane crash of Maurice’s  aircraft as he is playfully stunting the road the car is on.    The world has been turned upside down and now Maurice is paralyzed from the waist down and  bedridden.   

Maurice is remains a happy fellow, still very much missing his wife when she goes away to sleep in a separate bedroom, as  was the norm of the day.    The family hires a full time  caregiver in the person of Nurse Wayland (Peggy Wood) . Maurice seems to think that Stella no longer has ‘color’ in her cheeks as they would dance the night away and go horseback riding.   Maurice sends for his brother Colin (George Brent)  who has a plantation business to visit them and take Stella out more. Maurice will read business books on plantations and advises his brother  of changes to the operation .     

One can understand what happens as Colin and Stella go out more as the days pass.  Maurice doesn’t see it at all and is still jovial while his nother and his nurse do see for very different reasons.  Maurice is  under treatment by Doctor Harvester (Leo G.  Carroll), who confers with with a colleague that they will operate on Maurice in five months time to regain full mobility.  This is a lie and Maurice’s condition’s would not be “cured,”  yet it is decided to tell him this to  bolster his spirits.

George Brent plays Colin Trent similar to the measured way he played  Jim Gilson in THE PURCHASE  PRICE (1932) with Barbara Stanwyck.  Brent  doesn’t have much to do  except play the honorable brother who finds himself  in a  situation of love he did not expect or want.  Josephine Hutchinson does well  in the role of Stella as  she plays her moments with Clive wearing smiles and offering laughter.  Stella is in love with Maurice but cannot help being drawn to Colin. They are both caught in a rain storm while  horseback riding and the inevitable  happens under the trees.   Stella and  Colin both understand they must not go any further in this tryst and cook up a reason for Colin to head back.  The  moment in the storm is well played with good effects and camera work.

Colin Clive in the role of Maurice Trent steals this film with sensitivity, laughter and a sadness akin (although not as deep) to his  Stanhope in JOURNEYS END (1930). Clive spends most of the picture on his back in a chair or movable bed, using his cane to pull himself  along or  get things.   He always has a smile on his face and a happy tone to his voice that is not far from desperation.  His  scenes with Hutchinson show a real affection that may have  actually gone off screen as well as Clive was thought to be a ‘ladies man.’  The opening moments in the opera house as  Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde unfold are sensitive as  Clive watches a tear roll down Stella’s face. The family  then good naturedly makes fun of her after.  Maurice and Stella’s gaze during the song is magnetic.   Seldom has the public seen this side of Colin Clive, who was  known for playing  tormented people. Maurice is tormented by different forces.

The ending is something  you may think is rather cliche, however, it follows the cavalier Maurice’s character and  reveals  Nurse Wayland even more.   Peggy Wood is  brilliant as  the nurse with a stark,  matter of fact delivery consisting of  a lot of words and  quick movements that suddenly change to something else.  The nurse also sees all the  trouble and black days  that Maurice has while Stella and the family only see the good side.

THE RIGHT TO LIVE (1935) has a lovely cast which also has  C. Aubrey Smith playing an  Englishman and the voice of  reason and  decorum.   Colin Clive would go on to make BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) and other roles,  only to pass away due to alcoholism to quell inner demons  of inadequacy in 1937.    Josephine Hutchinson appeared in SON OF  FRANKENSTEIN (1939), that featured a scene with a portrait of Colin Clive as  Henry Frankenstein.

THE RIGHT TO LIVE (1935)  is worth a look to see what an ensemble can do with a story of who really has a  right to live and love.

 

 

 

NO GREATER GLORY (1934)

Allegory themes tend to be a hit and miss proposition.  A lovely example is  STRANGE CARGO (1940) with one of Clark Gable’s best on camera moments of life  and the hereafter. Clarence Brown’s THE  HUMAN COMEDY (1943) with Mickey Rooney is another.  The  picture was  originally written by esteemed playwrite William Saroyan, based on his novel of the same name, and featured voice overs of thoughts. Saroyan was fired off the project.  One can consider these pictures to be attempts by Hollywood to be more literate along with the “Prestige Pictures.”   NO GREATER GLORY  (1934)  is a thoughtful, pre-code film with a beauty all its own.

Frank Borzage weaves a story about the madness  and real cost of  war by highlighting   fight for a  city block.   The major players are George Breakston as the  frail boy  Nemeecsek who wants nothing more than to prove himself to the  two gang armies  headed  by Feri Ati (Frankie Darrow or Darro) and Boka (Jimmie Butler ).  They understood conflict as it was unfolding in their homeland during 1934.  Conflicts on a similar scale of could also take place in an American city that mirrored the evolving Second World War.

Nemeecsek parents are hard working craftspeople with tailoring skills.  The family  lives in back of the shop in single rooms, trying to scrape out a living, wanting to belong.

The battle between two opposing gangs is set to take place with Nemeecsek the victim of   water dunking by both sides as he deemed too frail. The undercurrent of bullying runs deep as George Breakston is physically smaller than most of the other actors  and the only fair haired blonde.   Nemeecsek  does heroic acts like stealing the flag of the perceived enemy  to win favor.  He also worships  Boka, who is  everything he is not:  charismatic , confident and physically strong.

 

On the eve of the battle, to be waged with spears, wrestling, and sand bombs, Nemeescek is bedridden with a  cold.  He yearns to be at the  battle to prove himself.

Ironically, another boy, Garib (Jackie Searl), who is  a ‘traitor’ gets  a chance to  prove  himself  to Boka.    Nemmescek rises from his sick bed at the appointed hour  to do battle as he  when he is visited separately by Boka and Feri Ati  and told he is ‘alright.’  Boka  gives him the gift of a uniform hat. He has longed for such a thing as it shows he belongs.

The picture is wonderfully photographed at night in parks and streets, giving tet feel of what it was like to be in a slum. The battle rages  to a  shattering climax, punctuated by a last effort to  do what is right at a terrible and real price.  A  watchman (Christian Rub) makes the comment that this is where the world is headed very soon.

George P. Breakson does the role of Nemeescek justice. He delivers his dialogue convincingly; even in his slightly high pitched voice.  He shows no fear as he battles  to stay with the other boys, in spite of a growing cold and fever.    Frankie Darrow, one of the  neglected stars of  Hollywood, shines as stoic Feri Ati. Physically, he is a contrast between  Boka and Nemeescek, making what he does stand out more.

Darrow moves with the grace of a dancer in battle. He is often dubbed ‘The Poor Man’s  James Cagney,” due to his athleticism and small stature.   Darrow or Darro starred in B films and  pre-code dramas, drifting to uncredited roles in large  pictures and later  television for the rest of his career.

The father is played by Canadian  born  (Vancouver, British Columbia)  John Qualen,  who had  Norwegian blood.  Qualen changed his name from Johan Mandt Kvalen to go on to a career in many films in supporting roles. You have seen his face and heard the voice yet never knew who he was.

The  mother was  played by Lois Wilson. She was a  school teacher by trade that entered acting  in 1915 and made it to 1963.   The roles of  the parents in NO GREATER GLORY (1934) are handled with  dignity and  a pathos; greatly adding to the  depth of the story. Qualen and Wilson use their voices at different pitches to convey happiness, sadness, all with the tinge of knowing that they must service the richer clients  that frequent the  shop.

It is debatable whether or not NO GREATER GLORY (1934) is an allegory of the  coming conflict in Europe or simply events in a young boy’s life. Actor Jimmie Butler (Boka), was later killed in France during the Second World War.  It is a precursor  to  LORD OF THE FLIES  (1963) and later remade in 1990.  The picture does send a strong message of what people do to belong to a society and their own countrymen.  The  film  is worth seeing when it is shown, although this is rarely as it  was a dismal box office performer when released.  It’s a different vision of what Hollywood did with gangs as the emergence of  The Bowery Boys series and  the  Dead End Kids followed.

THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE (1921)

Days accelerate today as never before.  You read a calendar and  wonder where a year has gone.  Lucky when you watch film you can slip into seasons quite well hence it was not out of of place the  see  the silent picture  THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE (1921). The picture – while not a story concerning Christmas directly – does follow a plot similar to the THE CHRISTMAS CAROL of ghostly visits and a redemption.   The titles are in Swedish with translation; the masterful images deliver on their own.

THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE  is one of the central works  of swedish cinema and  was directed  by Victor  Sjöström  (A.K.A. Victor Seastrom) who also stars David Holm.  The picture  opens on New Year’s Eve. The dying Salvation Army girl, Edit, has one last wish: to speak with David Holm.  David, an alcoholic, is sitting in a graveyard with two drinking buddies, talking about his old friend Georges who told him about Death’s carriage—the legend that the last person to die each year has to work under the “strict master” Death and collect the souls of everybody who dies the following year. Georges himself died on New Year’s Eve last year.

Gustafsson, a friend of Edit who is looking for David, finds him and tries to convince him to go and see her, but David refuses. When his friends also try to convince him, a fight breaks out where David is accidentally killed just before the clock strikes twelve. The carriage appears, and the driver is revealed as Georges.

 

As David’s soul steps out of his body, in an interesting bleak double exposure moment,  Georges reminds him of what he once had, how he once lived a happy family life with his wife Anna before ending up in bad company with Georges and others.  David’s life has changed as it is revealed Anna left him after he was jailed for intoxication. He reminds him how David exactly one year ago was taken care of by Edit, and while treating her badly, he gave her his promise to find her the following year so she would find out whether her prayers for him had worked or not.

It is an interesting start to a picture dealing with moral consequences of poor choices that films dealt with at that time.  It can be said that films are products of their time so you have THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE produced a mere six years before METROPOLIS (1927).  These pictures has common theme of the ordinary people in everyday life or “the Poor” facing a crisis of faith of spiritual or moral ideas. Choices are made to rebel in both films with consequences. That may paint the themes in broad strokes for these pictures yet in spite of geographical difference of the respective countries (THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE is from Sweden. METROPOLIS is from pre- war 1927 Germany.) both have an insight into the current state of life and thought.

THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE, while it may seem a simplistic tale, has influenced many film makers both Horror and otherwise.   Ingmar Bergman’s picture THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) contains a figure of Death that plays chess with a Knight having a crisis of faith. Bergman’s central themes were the approach of death and age in some form and its effects.  Stanley Kubrick  in THE SHINING (1980) paid homage to THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE with the sequence of Jack Nicholson’s character chopping his way through the bathroom door.

The appearances of the carriage and the driver may seem dated today with double exposures yet they are effective due to the stark loneliness of the streets and graveyards.  The effects of fog; an almost ‘Noir’ quality shadows blend with a musical score to make for an interesting excursion without dialogue.

THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE is a tale of lies, violence, resulting in a price exacted for living a less then moral life contrasted by the values of the righteous. Its characters deal with real problems of poverty, lack of prospects and desperate things that people do against a fantasy background.  Good triumphs over Evil which is usually what happens in these films. THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE would make an interesting addition to a holiday film list or anytime.

The Criterion  Collection has a stellar package featuring a  new  transfer, two musical scores, essays  and  even footage of sets  being built.  Serious  ghostly  fun.

 

 

HOLLYWOOD ADVENTURES IN THE BOOK TRADE: An Opinion on the printed word

Sometimes you just want to sit down with a good book. Not an electronic book.  Yes, they  are  wonderfully convenient. But a book is something that you hold up.  When I am lucky enough to travel to places like Los Angeles, I  find myself in  Larry Edmunds bookshop on Hollywood Blvd.    I am sure many readers of this blog have been there before and have their own memories.

The first time we went was a  total accident. I had  looked up the address, thinking it was  far away from our hotel, when i found myself staring at a display of Halloween Horror books in a large window.  Stills laid  out with  biographies, large format books on genre history and actors.   I said that I should  probably go into this place, when I stepped back to find the store name. The large sign said Larry Edmunds  and I said, “Well,  that was quick.”  The same  sudden discovery happened to us when looking for Amobea Records and Kat Von  D’s High Voltage tattoo shop.   What does all this have to do with Lana Turner and  the picture of her book?  It was on a visit when I saw the hard cover book jacket on the shelf, thumbed through it and decided  that Miss Turner had long been an interest of mine.  I also called out at the cash register a few other titles off the  top of my head and they magically appeared in front of me, spirited into location by the very helpful staff.  We were also standing in a group of people that nodded their heads when I called out a title; one of whom was a fellow in  full  red serge suit with Elvis hair style and sideburns in over eighty degree heat.

Books on screen history, actors and  genre are nothing new.  The  resurgence of  hard covers  from vintage printing with bright book jackets has a special allure.  I would love  to find a  first or vintage edition of biographies such as Errol Flynn’s MY WICKED WICKED WAYS.   It is also debatable if  Mary Astor’s infamous THE PURPLE DIARIES actually existed or is merely the stuff of bedroom legend.  Pat O’Brien’s hardcover bio  THE WIND AT MY BACK is available for purchase on line as a  vintage book.

Books such as the original stories of  films also abound if you look.  I was given  a copy of  Guy Fowler’s novel  THE  DAWN PATROL that contained stills from the Richard Barthelmess  version,  produced eight years before Errol Flynn took flight.  I also came upon a novelization of  THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN by Michael  Egermont.

 

 

When you get these vintage books, they may be a  bit  bashed up or have dangerously  small print: you are in for an adventure.  Silly to say, but sometimes the odor of the old paper in a book can be a bit like exploring an ancient ruin.  I  suggest that you feel closer to the source of the Hollywood myth.  The  fountainhead,  if you will, of what many of us  enjoy about Hollywood and its myths are the  stories.  You might get sanitized versions of people’s lives and places; however, that offers a bigger picture of a person or place by seeking various editions of a  biography.   These  materials were monitored by the studios at the time, so one gets different  interpretations and sometimes omissions in the text.

Let’s not  forget the  vintage books in the world of  new  editions, startling new  evidence of events in  Hollywood.   It’s  great fun to prowl the shelves and  suddenly find something.  I  haven’t even mentioned vintage  fan magazines and  film scripts, either.  Read on  if you get a chance.