Showing posts from September, 2015
This is the Inner Sanctum...'

Ever in search of movie series material, Universal Pictures' launch of the "Inner Sanctum" programmers in late 1943 held the promise of being more than just whodunits designed to keep star player Lon Chaney Jr. occupied in between assignments as the studio's great monsters. With an emphasis on interior conflict faced by the protagonist in each of the series' six entries, the Inner Sanctums boded well as a potential competitor to the classier Val Lewton-produced horror films from RKO Radio Pictures.

But as pointed out by John Brunas, Michael Brunas and Tom Weaver in their exhaustive UNIVERSAL HORRORS: THE STUDIO'S CLASSIC FILMS 1931-46 (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 1990, pp. 393-394), Universal's tight-fisted approach to the Inner Sanctums doomed them to be, to put it charitably, missed opportunities, or in the view of others, an outright waste of time; "feebly conceived," as the Brunases and Weaver opin…

Playing at your local drive-in: The films of Richard Bernstein

When Wyott Ordung put together what became his magnum opus of independent filmmaking, the eccentric but interesting WALK THE DARK STREET (1956), he had some help in the form of two associate producers on the project, Tom Michaels and Richard Bernstein. WALK THE DARK STREET is, according to the IMDB, Michaels' only movie credit, but Bernstein built upon the experience to launch a brief but involving career as a writer-producer, climaxing with two 1960s releases in the popular fields of horror and westerns, TERRIFIED and THE GUN HAWK.

Since an earlier and much lengthier blog of mine focused on Ordung (1922-2005), his career as an actor, writer, producer and director, it occurred to me, as I stumbled onto his name on other films, that Bernstein's contributions were rather interesting. While Ordung boasted only a few more credits after WALK THE DARK STREET, Bernstein was busier, even if his Hollywood career closed as quickly as his collaborator's.

Bernstein (1922-1983) rode t…

A mini- tribute to Edgar Wallace Mystery Theater

A mini-tribute to Edgar Wallace Mystery Theater

Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) wrote scads of mystery and crime novels and short stories in addition to plays that were ripe for adaptation by the movies. In fact, the British author, who had relocated to the U.S. in 1931, was working on an initial draft of the script for KING KONG (1933) at the time of his untimely death from undiagnosed diabetes. His works were increasingly turned into cinematic product in the years following his death, including his early African adventure work SANDERS OF THE RIVER, which Universal filmed in 1934 with Colin Clive in the lead. He was well-represented in his homeland's film industry with such entries as THE RINGER (1931), its remake THE GAUNT STRANGER (1939), THE TERROR (1938) and THE CASE OF THE FRIGHTENED LADY (1940). Reprinting of Wallace's novels and stories in West Germany in the late 1950s inspired a flood of "krimi" pictures based -- in some cases, very loosely -- on those works; some…