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Showing posts from July, 2015

Pre-Code and loving it: The World Gone Mad (1933)

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Pre-Code and loving it: The World Gone Mad (1933)

Prior to the strict oversight and enforcement of the Production Code on the content of Hollywood films in 1934, producers' approach to modern mores, sex, crime and other aspects of contemporary life was fairly free-wheeling, not simply salacious for the heck of it (these movies still had to play in Peoria, so to speak) but a recognition of the adult understanding of the Depression-era movie audience. People went to the movies for escapism, but accepted contemporary concerns as part of the viewing experience; the reality-based movies produced by Warner Bros. such as I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD and HEROES FOR SALE (1932-1933) were popular because they were about issues and social problems seen in the newspapers. With them came a certain frank appreciation of human behavior, from social attitudes to even profanity, the latter not overdone but still there and usually limited to "damn."

In a way, t…

Hammer's Hound

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Or, how to make a horror movie out of a beloved classic of mystery fiction.

This isn't such a stretch because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES strongly suggested the supernatural as the root of the curse that had haunted the Baskerville family and estate on the lonely expanses of Devon, near Dartmoor Prison. The mystery at hand, and ultimately the legend of the seemingly spectral hound that spells doom for the Baskervilles is resolved by the great detective Sherlock Holmes and his associate, Dr. John H. Watson, as the work of all-too human and present-day cunning.

A creature of rational thinking, Holmes' dismissal of the fantastic and other-worldly is not surprising. But his creator, whose non-Holmes literary output includes a number of horror and science fiction works (notably, the 1912 novel THE LOST WORLD), manifested a fancy for the incredible. And it is the atmosphere of lurking terror on the moors and the swampland known as the Great Grimpen Mi…