Vintage Glass Slides Celebrate Classic Horror Films + An Interview with Colin Clive!

Halloween 2015 gives us a good reason to take a fresh look at some of the greatest horror film classics ever made. But not by viewing the familiar artwork found in vintage posters and lobby cards. Instead we have found several rarely-seen and extremely fragile glass slides that were projected onto movie screens over 80 and 90 years ago. Let’s begin the tour.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920) is often credited as the first American horror film. Although filmed many times beginning in 1911, this 1920 silent film version starring John Barrymore in his “breakthrough” movie performance is generally regarded as the best film version. This takes nothing away from at least two excellent sound film versions made in 1931 and 1941. The 1920 version is readily available today on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming video:
Jeykyll Hyde slide

Before Lon Chaney frightened audiences in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923), the Man of 1,000 Faces created chills in this 1922 film, which alas, is lost:
Chaney A Blind Bargain

Decades before JURASSIC PARK let loose an army of angry dinosaurs, movie audiences were awed by living prehistoric creatures in THE LOST WORLD (1925). Based on the popular novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this film is available on DVD:
Lost World copy_edited-Final

Lon Chaney scored a huge hit with one of the most memorable films of all time. New generations today find THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) is still a potent brew. The enduring popularity of the Chaney film has resulted in this PHANTOM being available on Blu-ray as well as DVD. We are also lucky to have TWO glass slides for this classic:
Phantom slide_edited-Final
Phantom_edited-1 copy

Chaney Sr. did not rest on his laurels with PHANTOM, but followed it up with edgy dramas such as THE ROAD TO MANDALAY (1926), which only partially exists today:
Road to Mandalay 1

American horror films didn’t become established until the talkie era with DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN, both released in 1931. A lesser-known film released in 1932 is THE WHITE ZOMBIE starring Count Dracula himself, Bela Lugosi. This low-budget film has grown in stature through the years and today is considered a classic. As a sign of its stature, ZOMBIE is available on DVD and even Blu-ray:
White Zombie

One of the best of the early 1930s horror classics is THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), based on a novel by H.G. Wells, and starring Claude Rains in his first film. The romantic lead was Gloria Stuart who 60 years later appeared in TITANIC (1997):
Invisible Man Final

1933 was a banner years for classic films and horror movies were no exception. In addition to THE INVISIBLE MAN, the public was treated to KING KONG:
KING KONG

The public barely had time to catch its collective breath when later in 1933 the sequel to KONG was released. While not as good as the original, SON OF KONG is enjoyable on its own terms:
Son of Kong Glass Slide

Another early horror talkie that has grown in stature is THE BLACK ROOM (1935) starring the Frankenstein monster himself, Boris Karloff. And yes, it’s available on DVD:
The Black Room 1935 copy

It was only a matter of time before those Twin Princes of Horror Films, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, were co-starred. THE RAVEN (1935) is the second of several successful films from the Karloff-Lugosi team and, yes, is on DVD:
Raven Final

Is there a consensus on one classic horror film that is considered the best ever made? Well, if there is, that film would be the sequel to FRANKENSTEIN (1931). Filmed under the working title of THE RETURN OF FRANKENSTEIN, this stunning film would be known to the world as THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Of course, this one is available on Blu-ray and DVD:
Bride_Final

British actor Colin Clive played Dr. Henry Frankenstein in those first two films of the series, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Here is a candid of Colin Clive and Valerie Hobson on the Universal backlot in January 1935 during the filming of BRIDE:
Clive_ Hobson-copy_Final

Colin Clive was regarded as a gifted actor but a troubled individual. He passed away in 1937 following years of alcohol abuse complicated by tuberculosis. Typical of many actors of that time, Mr. Clive was unhappy with his being cast in these so-called “horror films.” But unlike other actors, he had no hesitation to go public with his concerns. Here is a rare interview with the man that many consider to be the definitive Dr. Frankenstein:
Clive Interview

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Halloween 2014 – From the Artists’ Viewpoint

There are a number of talented modern-day artists who have turned their skills to the Classic Horror Films of Hollywood’s Golden Age. These individuals have made their works available on the Internet so what follows is a Halloween roundup with credit given where it is properly deserved.

Robert Semler offers a few of the 1,000 Faces of Lon Chaney Sr.:
semler_lon_of_1000_faces

Chaney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923) by Robert Semler:
semler_hunchback-of-notre-dame

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) by Robert Semler:
semler_phantom-of-the-opera

The lamentably long-lost LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT (1927) by Robert Semler:
semler_london-after-midnight

Another artist, Daniel Horne, painted this exquisite portrait of THE PHANTOM:
PHANTOM PAINTING 3 by Daniel Horne

Daniel Horne gives us LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT:
CHANEY VAMPIRE2-1 Daniel Horne

Moving into the 1930s, Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster by Daniel Horne:
Horne-Frankenstein 1931-1-1 by Daniel Horne

Mr. Horne also sculptures. Here is Karloff again in two works as Ardath Bey aka THE MUMMY (1932):
The Mummy by Daniel Horne
ARDETH BEY SCULPT02 by Daniel Horne

The Monster again in sculpture by Daniel Horne:
BRIDE KAROLFF FINAL01 by Daniel Horne

Everybody’s favorite Halloween couple, Karloff and Elsa Lancaster in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) by Daniel Horne:
Horne-TheBrideOfFrankenstein-1-5 by Daniel Horne

An exquisite painting by Daniel Horne of the BRIDE herself:
BRIDE by Daniel Horne

It just wouldn’t seem like Halloween without Bela Lugosi. From THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935) by Daniel Horne:
BELA LUGOSI'S EYES4 by Daniel Horne copy

One of my All-Time Favorites – Henry Hull as THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935) by Daniel Horne:
Werewolf of London by Daniel Horne

Finally, here is your blogmeister’s attempt at an artistic potpouri of images from our favorite ghouls!
Universal 1935 ltrhead Final_Halloween_edited-1
Happy-Halloween-HD-Wallpaper-picture

Jean Harlow – Live!

I suppose the first time any of us hears the name Jean Harlow, we learn two things at once. First, that she was a beautiful blonde movie star of the 1930s, and second, that she died at the age of 26. Thus, Miss Harlow rarely has a chance to be “living” for us, if you know what I mean. After all, Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo (see our previous post) were contemporaries of Harlow who left their screen careers circa 1940 and basically disappeared. Both enjoyed very long lives post-Hollywood, so why couldn’t we have the same expectation for Jean? But no, her name is barely introduced to us and it is embraced by tragedy. Yet, like Rudolph Valentino before her, or Marilyn Monroe after her, through her films Jean Harlow proves to be an endlessly fascinating embodiment of love and mortality. Perhaps to put it more bluntly, an irresistible combination of sex and death.

The Warner Bros. Archives released a terrific dvd set of Jean’s films earlier this year but, after all, films are carefully rehearsed, reshot if there are mistakes, and carefully edited to delete other shortcomings. So while Jean certainly was living when she made her movies, we know there’s no “anything can happen” possibility of a truly live performance. That brings us to our current post on OHIC – a rare, truly live performance by Jean Harlow on the Lux Radio Theater in December 1936 less than six months before her death. Jean did little radio work and this broadcast seems to be the only one that has been preserved. The story is MADAME SANS-GENE, based on a popular 1890s play, turned into a famous opera by Giordano, that Gloria Swanson made into a successful (and now lost) silent film in 1925.

In the 1960s, Sophia Loren starred in a remake of this story of a feisty young woman during the French Revolution who confronts washing laundry and dealing with Napoleon with equal disregard.

This network radio broadcast was heard live by at least 30 million listeners from coast to coast, and by shortwave around the world. The host is Hollywood pioneer director Cecil B. DeMille, and Jean Harlow’s co-star is Robert Taylor. It was no coincidence that their new film, PERSONAL PROPERTY, was just going into movie theaters for the holidays. The imposing-voiced Claude Rains plays Napoleon with the same authority as he did earlier in 1936 in the Marion Davies film, HEARTS DIVIDED.

Here then at just a click of the button below is the complete hour-long live broadcast of MADAME SANS-GENE as heard on December 14, 1936:

A rare photo of the prinicipal cast rehearsing for the broadcast – from left to right Robert Taylor, Jean Harlow, Claude Rains, and C. Henry Gordon:

While you’re listening, enjoy some OHIC color transfers of Jean Harlow:

Jean seems more concerned with that overhead microphone than with the famous and feared gossip columnist Louella Parsons:

Later in 1937, Louella Parsons published this souvenir biography:

Jean and Clark Gable heat up the screen in RED DUST (1932), the first of several films they made together. Gable has the strange distinction of starring in the final films of the two most famous “goddesses” in film history: SARATOGA (1937), Harlow’s last film, and THE MISFITS (1961), Marilyn Monroe’s last film. It was also Gable’s last film, in fact he predeceased Marilyn:

Jean seems dressed for playing horse polo here. I can’t place the film but it may be from BLONDE BOMBSHELL (1933), a pre-Code satire on a sexy Hollywood star who looks just like Jean Harlow:

On the set of CHINA SEAS (1935) with co-star Wallace Beery and his daughter, Mary Ann, who had a small part in the film, and director Tay Garnett:

A promotional coin from Popsicles:

Jean Harlow made quite a number of good films during her brief life but legend will always claim first and foremost that her most memorable performance was as the sultry vixen in Howard Hughes’ First World War epic, HELL’S ANGELS (1930). Incidentally, it is the only film with color footage of Jean. Although she was virtually unknown at the time, look who dominates the poster art:

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