Sunday, September 21, 2014

Christopher Lee as Dracula

When I was a teenager, Christopher Lee's portrayal of Count Dracula in Hammer films was one of my absolute favorite things, even though most of them were pretty dull affairs when he was off screen. The first I saw was his second, DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, was double featured with, of all things, BATMAN in '66. HIS first, though, was simply DRACULA...

Except, of course, in America and a few other countries where it was renamed HORROR OF DRACULA

After that he played a lookalike vampire in the Italian comedy, UNCLE WAS A VAMPIRE.

He probably figured he was through with the Count, then but Lee returned 7 years later in DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS.


This was arguably the best installment in spite of the inappropriately silly US ad campaign. 

By TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, Lee was growing tied of the increasingly feral role.

But he nonetheless reprised it in a cameo in the Jerry Lewis-directed ONE MORE TIME.

And then again in the all-star flop, THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, his character billed as "Ship's Vampire."

But he was back full force, complete with dyed black hair and red contact lenses, in SCARS OF DRACULA, only to call it quits after that.

He was then given the opportunity to do a version of his most famous role that was true to its book, Jess Franco's COUNT DRACULA. Lee looked great but the ultra-low budget showed and the film was quite poor.

So he once again returned to hammer 2 years later for what would be both my favorite installment and, by now, the most dated installment as well!

It did wel enough to generate one final entry with Lee...although not well enough to gte it released in the US.

Well, at least not for about 5 years when a recut, retitled version was just dropped on the market.

Lee still loved the character, though, and portrayed him on this LP.

Finally agreeing one final time--and once again in a European-only release, to do the role in DRACULA: FATHER AND SON.

 Many years later, he would don a cape and play a very different Count in the STAR WARS series!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fancy Pants

Bob Hope movies--You either love 'em or you hate 'em. This is one that a lot of people really did love, including me. Surprisingly, these trade ads downplay the fact that Lucy co-stars.

Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Stars of Tomorrow-1943

In late 1943, this 4 page paid ad in MOTION PICTURE DAILY claimed these 10 Fox stars to be people to watch going into 1944. Was it just studio hype or were they correct? How right were they? Let's take a look, shall we?

Mary Anderson

Starting at the top in GONE WITH THE WIND, she was doing well up through the two roles cited here in the ad but afterwards, her roles became smaller and smaller. She ended her career doing TV guest spots into the early 1960s and passed away just this year at the age of 96. For some undoubtedly fascinating reason, IMDB has her last role uncredited in CHEECH & CHONG'S NEXT MOVIE, from 1980.

Gale Robbins

She was a new sign-up for 20th at the time and became a fairly well-known pin-up girl, even touring with Bob Hope. On screen, she maintained a mid-level presence in her films and later, like Mary, wandered into a career of character parts on TV. She gave up acting to raise a family but returned some years later after her husband was killed in an accident. She worked in nightclubs, had a brief role in 1972's feminist comedy, STAND UP AND BE COUNTED, and appeared onstage in COMPANY. She died in 1980.

Trudy Marshall

This former model went from a handful of uncredited bits straight to the female lead in a Laurel and Hardy feature. Unfortunately, it was one of their worst. Still, she took the lead in LADIES OF WASHINGTON, now long forgotten. After that, her career was said to have been sabotaged by the studio when she married someone they didn't approve. That marriage gave us future actress Deborah Raffin, however, who--among her notable accomplishments--pioneered Books on Tape! Trudy worked sporadically in films and TV up through the late 70s and died in 2004.

June Haver

Starting out as a child in Cincinnati and later known as "The Pocket Grable," June did pretty well in her early films but left the business when her fiancé died. She went into a convent with the express idea of becoming a nun. Instead, she left it and married actor Fred MacMurray, to whom she had been introduced by John Wayne. She died in 2004.

Jeanne Crain

This one they got right. Starting small, she worked her way up and, in spite of having 7 children along the way, pretty much stayed there through dozens of vehicles, ending her career after 1972's SKYJACKED. She died in 2003.

Perry Como

Depends on your point of view. As a film star, the laconic former barber was a bust but as a recording artist, he became "Sinatra Lite" continuing to have Top Ten hits for the the next 3 decades, many successful television specials and  was memorably spoofed in the 80s on SCTV. He passed in 2001.

John Harvey

This guy simply didn't LIKE making movies and asked to be released from his contract after only a few. He returned to the stage and started a talent agency before he died in 1970.

Lon McAllister

Already appearing in bit parts for a decade, his career was hampered by the fact that his height and his looks wouldn't get him anything beyond juvenile roles so he more or less retired at the age of 30. There were a couple of TV guest spots a decade later but then he went into real estate until he died in 2005.

William Eythe

In spite of a few meaty roles, he simply didn't get that good of reviews from the public or the critics and his career petered out after a decade. Depression and alcohol kept him in the headlines until his early death in 1957.

Dick Haymes

A hugely successful singer in his day, Haymes film career seemed to lead him to nothing but trouble as he married 5 times and developed a major drinking problem as his career crashed around him. He pulled it together long enough for a minor revival of his singing career and even appeared rather often in character parts on TV series in the late 1970s before his death in 1980.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Skipalong Rosenbloom

At this late stage, I'm always pleased to discover that there are still classic era movies that I've never even heard of before! One example is SKIPALONG ROSENBLOOM from 1951. Read this pressbook and you will literally know as much about it as I do!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Universal Horror Trade Ads

Growing up with FAMOUS MONSTERS, the Universal horror films of the 1930s and 1940s were lionized as the gold standard of scary movies. Here are a couple of industry ads for a trio of them, citing their enormous popularity.