Thursday, March 24, 2011

James Whale’s Dracula’s Daughter (part one)

This is another in Philip Riley’s series of “lost” scripts – fully completed treatments of movies about the classic Universal monsters that were, for whatever reason, unfilmed.

The story behind this unmade movie is that, after the success of Frankenstein, Whale was under contract to Junior Laemmle for more pictures, and Laemmle wanted Whale to direct sequels to both Dracula (the original was directed sopoforically by Todd Browning) and Frankenstein.

Whale produced a quirky masterpiece with Bride of Frankenstein, but didn’t want to take on the project that had been labeled Dracula’s Daughter. Whale, however, wanted very much to take on a different project, the musical Showboat.

Laemmle, head of production at Universal, was just as vehement that Whale make a follow-up film to the surprise smash of 1931, that strange Valentine to Universal’s bottom line, Dracula.

According to the introductory matter in this book, Whale got around having to make the monster movie by, without Laemmle’s knowledge, sending a way over-the-top script treatment to the Breen Office, the screen censors who had approval over public morality (and corporate profits) via the Motion Picture Production Code. Supposedly this 1933 script had beaucoup gore, torture, and perverted sex in it – to which the censors immediately reacted with horrified rejection.

This reaction from the folks who had to green-light any widely released film was a temporary death-knell (ha ha) for Dracula’s Daughter, leaving Whale free to continue preparations for his beloved Showboat.

It wasn’t until 1936 that a film called Dracula’s Daughter was released, with a script and plot so very different from the early treatments.

For example, the title role, played by Gloria Holden in the final film, was originally to be played by Jane Wyatt. Dracula himself plays a central role in the first 30% or so of the film. This would certainly have revitalized Lugosi’s already fading carrer!

More on this fascinating “might-have-been” next time.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The End of Superman 180

The last few pages of Superman 180 have ads and other filler.  On this page, it's kind of interesting that there is really no difference in visual design, or other divider to separate the Trix ad (the top 3/4 of the page) from the bottom, editorially-generated strip.

Of course, the strip "Little Pete" is itself halfway towards being an ad for AMT models.  But "Little Pete" was an actual filler strip seen from time to time.

This the inside back cover is one of the infamous "Make Money, Get Prizes" genre.  These greeting cards might be considered the "creme de la crap" of such, because they would be actually imprinted with the buyers' names.  Just think -- in 1963, if such things were ordered, the system would require an involved chain of events that would involve writing down the name; sending in the name; a printer actually being able to READ the name written by a ten-year-old; setting up the name in a linotype machine; and so on.

Nowadays that ten-year-old kid could run off a card template on his home computer and probably would imbed a dirty picture in the background of the greeting card.

The back cover, in glorious dying color, presents the two newest Aurora monster models, The Witch, and Bride of Frankenstein.  I had both of these models, and they were sweet (no sexism intended)!

What remains of "The Witch" are the snake (seen in the background of the color illo above) and the ol' gal herself, sans feet (they just glued into the solid flat surface that was the underside of her dress).

With "The Bride," all I still have is the lady-in-waiting.  For some reason, her head (of one molded piece with her neck) can be slipped right out of her shoulders.

These fragments I have shored against my ruin, as T S Eliot said in "The Waste Land."  Actually, the ladies DO come out at Halloween time when we get all the spooky stuff down from the attic.  About every three years or so we actually decorate inside with these and other trashy, scary things.

As you can tell by the posted price of $1.49, these were part of the second wave of Aurora monsters.  The first series were 98 cent list price.  In 1963 Oklahoma, that meant that a solid dollar would buy one of them, for the total state and local taxes was only two cents on the dollar.  Sweet!

Later on in the week we will start a look at Philip Riley's book James Whale's Dracula's Daughter.

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© by Mark Alfred