Posts Tagged ‘warner brothers’

The Curse of Frankenstein

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The Curse of Frankenstein / Taste the Blood of Dracula

Tagline – The creature created by man and forgotten by nature!

Starring – Peter Cushing (Victor Frankenstein), Hazel Court (Elizabeth), Robert Urquhart (Paul Krempe), Christopher Lee (the Creature).

Released – June, 1957

Directed By – Terence Fisher

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Hammer Films

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – In prison awaiting his execution for murder, Victor Frankenstein is telling his story to a priest. After his mother’s death, young Victor assumes sole control of the family estate.

Out of his inheritance Victor agrees to pay his Aunt Sophia and cousin Elizabeth a monthly stipend. Sofia, thinking of acquiring more, suggests to Victor that Elizabeth may one day make a good wife.

In an effort to continue his education, Victor hires Paul Krempe to tutor him. Several years of study have brought Victor up to the educational level of Krempe and the two decide to work together on some scientific experiments.

These experiments lead to the pair successfully bringing a dead dog back to life. Victor now believes that the theory behind this success may very well work on a human body as well.

They start right away, but before long Krempe loses his taste for the project. The scavenging of human body parts has begun to sicken him and with the arrival of now fully-grown cousin and fiance to Victor, Elizabeth, Krempe withdraws from the experiment.

Victor, now searching for an intelligent brain for his creation, murders a distinguished professor. During the removal of the brain, Victor and Krempe have a struggle resulting in some damage to the brain. The fear of just what is taking place causes Krempe to try and convince Elizabeth to leave the estate for her own safety. She refuses.

With the creature now assembled, Victor brings it back to life. However, the damaged brain has caused the creation to be both psychotic and violent. There is no other choice but to lock the creature up.

The creature manages to escape and it is not long before it murders an old blind man and this act may only be the beginning.

NOTABLE: The Curse of Frankenstein was the first meeting of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Their friendship lasted until Cushing’s death in 1994.

For many years The Curse of Frankenstein was the most profitable film to be produced in England by a British studio.

It is the belief of many film historians that the success of this film caused a resurrection of the horror film genre which had steadily declined in popularity from the 1930’s and early 1940’s.

Of all the Frankenstein films produced, this was the first to be made in color.

A Face in the Crowd

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

A Face in the Crowd

Tagline – POWER! He loved it! He took it raw in big gulpfulls… he liked the taste, the way it mixed with the bourbon and the sin in his blood!

Starring – Andy Griffith (Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes), Patricia Neal (Marcia Jeffries), Anthony Franciosa (Joey DePalma), Walter Matthau (Mel Miller), Lee Remick (Betty Lou Fleckum).

Released – May, 1957

Directed By – Elia Kazan

Produced By – Newtown Productions

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Ozark guitar picker Larry Rhodes is discovered in an Arkansas jail by Marcia Jeffries. He is invited to sing on a radio show where his down home humor and charm start him on a meteoric rise in entertainment popularity.

Given the nickname “Lonesome” Rhodes by Jeffries, he lands a Memphis television show. It is here that the dark side of Rhodes begins to show once he realizes that his popularity brings with it… power. He and Jeffries begin an affair which is followed by an accepted marriage proposal.

His continued success lands him his own show in New York City. More money, more power, more moral deterioration.

A woman shows up claiming to be Rhodes’ real wife, Rhodes betrays his discoverer and new wife Marcia Jeffries by running away with a 17 year drum majorette. Fame, influence, arrogance, and money have created a monster.

It becomes a sure bet that the moral course taken by Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes can only lead to pain and disaster.

NOTABLE: A Face in the Crowd provided the film debut of Andy Griffith and Lee Remick.

Director Elia Kazan and Screenwriter Budd Schulberg spent months researching the advertising world, even gaining access to ad agency meetings, in order to gain an understand as to the way Madison Avenue approaches and shapes the thinking of the American public.

Lee Remick’s baton twirling majorette required her to show up weeks before shooting in order to train with local high school majorettes.

A Face in the Crowd was the return to the big screen for actress Patricia Neal who had suffered a nervous breakdown after a much-publicized affair with actor Gary Cooper.

Director Ernst Lubitsch Has Died

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

November, 1947 – After a long illness, famed Director Ernst Lubitsch has died at the age of 55. Lubitsch was born in Berlin, Germany in 1892 and was first attracted to the stage in his teens when he acted in Max Reinhardt’s company. Shortly after, he began acting, writing, and directing short comedy films.

In 1923, Ernst Lubitsch arrived in Hollywood to direct silent screen legend Mary Pickford in the film Rosita. His success at Warner Brothers led to an opportunity at Paramount Pictures where he would develop a style of wit and sophistication that was the beginning of what would later be known as the “Lubitsch Touch.”

Difficult to clearly define, the “Lubitsch Touch” has been compared to the work of a master chef who knows the exact amount of spice or sugar to add to a dish, resulting, in Lubitsch’s case, an on screen feast for the eyes and ears.

Some of the great directors’ best work include The Merry Widow, Trouble in Paradise, Ninotchka, The Shop Around the Corner, and To Be or Not to Be.

The unique and creative directing talent of Ernst Lubitsch will be greatly missed.

Possessed

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Possessed [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Love can be maddening!

Starring – Joan Crawford (Louise Howell), Van Heflin (David Sutton), Raymond Massey (Dean Graham), Geraldine Brooks (Carol Graham).

Released – July, 1947

Directed By – Curtis Bernhardt

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Walking the streets of Los Angeles alone and dazed, Louise Howell looks for David. She enters and collapses in a diner from which she is brought to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. While there she is gently coaxed into telling her story.

Louise works as a private nurse, in the state of Washington, taking care of Dean Graham’s wife Pauline. She has a romantic relationship with engineer David Sutton, a neighbor of the Grahams. Louise is in love with David and her love is becoming more and more of an obsession.

She wants very badly to marry David, but he does not return her feelings at the same level, and is increasingly annoyed at Louise’s possessiveness. So much so, that he breaks off their relationship.

Wanting to move on with his career, David speaks with Dean about an opportunity in Canada. He hopes that Dean will recommend him for the job. Dean is unaware of the previous relationship between Louise and David. This conversation is overheard by Louise who begs David to take her to Canada with him. He refuses, and after getting the job leaves for Canada.

Shortly after, while Louise is in the village, the emotionally unstable Pauline Graham drowns herself. After the funeral, David asks Louise to remain in his home and help with his son Wynn and college-age daughter Carol. This does not make Carol happy, and she accuses Louise of having an affair with her father.

David returns from Canada and Louise’s obsessive emotions begin to resurface. She is so upset by still not being able to have David that she quits her job at the Graham house. However, Dean confesses his love for her and asks her to marry him. Although she does not love him she accepts.

Carol, after speaking with her mother’s doctor, realizes that her suspicions of an affair between her father and Louise were incorrect and she apologizes to Louise. They attend a concert together and run into David.

This meeting sets the stage for Louise’s obsessive feelings toward David to spiral out of control. She leaves the concert, and once home begins to hallucinate that Carol and David are plotting against her and that she had killed Pauline Graham. Now fearing for her own sanity Louise sees a doctor who informs her that she may possibly be suffering from schizophrenia and suggests she see a psychiatrist.

She returns home and asks Dean for a divorce. He suggests that a vacation my help with her problems and any thoughts of divorce should be put on hold. They go away to the beach house where Pauline died and while there Louise again begins to hallucinate. This time Louise believes she hears Pauline’s voice telling her to kill herself because she was responsible for Pauline’s death.

She tells Dean about this and he is again able to calm her fears and they return home. Together they decide to go dancing as a way to relax, but while at the dance, run into David and Carol who announce to them that they are engaged to be married.

With this news, Louise’s obsessive feelings of love for David take a tragic turn toward insanity. Before Louise’s spiraling emotional cycle can end, someone else will lose their life.

NOTABLE: Possessed received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Joan Crawford).

To help prepare for her role, Joan Crawford visited hospital mental wards and talked extensively with psychiatrist’s. She has said that this was the most difficult role she had ever played. Crawford would be sued by a former female mental patient who claimed that the actress had observed her without permission. The suit was later dropped.

The role of Louise Howell was originally offered to Bette Davis who had to turn the role down because she was pregnant.

This motion picture was the film debut of actress Geraldine Brooks.

Personal Note: One of my favorite films noir, with a great performance by Joan Crawford along with strong supporting work, most notably by Van Heflin.

One of the early films to focus on mental illness and extremely well done.

httpv://youtu.be/YxpzkfnbEs0

Warner Brothers’ The Jazz Singer “Sounds” Great

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

October, 1927Warner Brothers’ rolled the dice with the sound synchronization of both music and dialogue in their film The Jazz Singer and came up winners.

Al Jolson opened the door for sound in motion pictures.

Al Jolson opened the door for sound in motion pictures.

Facing serious financial problems for quite some time, the success of Don Juan, Warner’s first feature film to use their Vitaphone sound-on-disc system motivated the studio to go for broke with their production of The Jazz Singer.

Having successfully used the system for sound effects and musical score, the production of The Jazz Singer became the first motion picture to also synchronize spoken dialogue. The honor went to Al Jolson, thought by many to be the finest entertainer in the world.

Jolson agreed to play the role of Jakie Rabinowitz for $75,000 after the role had previously been offered to both George Jessel and Eddie Cantor. Negotiations with Jessel were not going well and the role was offered to Cantor. Cantor, being a friend of Jessel, politely declined believing that eventually Warner Brothers and George Jessel would come to an agreement.

This opened the door for Al Jolson who was the inspiration for the story that started as a stage drama starring George Jessel. Giving the role to Al Jolson turned out to be the best casting decision Warner Brothers could have possibly made.

Jolson’s rendition of “Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye,” and his showstopping blackface rendition of “Mammy,” brought cheers from the audience, but it was his improvised declaration of “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” that drove them wild.

While the production and popularity of silent films still dominated Hollywood, clearly the door to the “talkies” was now open. Warner Brothers’ The Jazz Singer had changed the future of the motion picture industry.