theBCLMC     

The Long Island University Brooklyn Campus Library Media Center Newsletter 

 

We love movies, among other things.

October 2006, issue 18

"I'm not like other guys."  Michael Jackson, Thriller

That's right.  Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the library.   Clock chimes midnight on a dark and stormy night as you wander aimlessly through the library stacks, feel yourself helplessly drawn, as if in a dream, down a long, dark aisle of dusty tomes, scarabs scuttling beneath your feet, bats flickering overhead, into the MEDIA CENTER of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!   It's...

...Son of Spooky Monster Midnight Thriller Chiller Halloween Issue!

All in the Family: 

Lon Chaney Jr. was The Wolf ManHis dad was The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, long before they were Andrew-LLoyd-Webberized and Disneyfied, respectively.  The outcasts Erik and Quasimodo were not so romantic or cuddly in Lon's famous portrayals, which featured not only his extraordinary physical gifts as a silent film actor, but also his own character design and makeup.  Erik is at once a menacing and sympathetic figure, but still the most monstrous of the screen adaptations of the character. 

Chaney's Quasimodo is a hop-toad of a creature who sticks out his tongue, leers, and leaps in a marvelously earthy performance, and is tragically manipulated by the morally monstrous Jehan Frollo.  Still, Quasimodo's love for Esmeralda and his touching ignorance of the taunts and humiliations wrought upon him make him a most sympathetic and unlikely screen hero.

Other less extreme visual Chaney characterizations in our collection include his turn as Fagin in Oliver Twist, as the ringleader of an eccentric group of criminals in The Unholy Three, a legless criminal in The Penalty, and a dual role in Outside the Law.  And from this brief selection you can see why he earned the nickname, "The Man of a Thousand Faces." 

So, you ask, when is Andrew Lloyd Webber going to turn The Wolf Man into a hit Broadway musical? Chaney Jr. played the first great movie werewolf, the unfortunate lug Larry Talbot, bit by werewolf Bela Lugosi.  Lon was following in his late father's footsteps [he died too soon, from throat cancer, after making only one talking picture, a remake of The Unholy Three], and although he had also previously won acclaim as Lennie in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and also did yeoman work in a host of B Westerns, most of his career was spent in the shadow of that tortured soul Larry Talbot.  

Made in 1941, The Wolf Man, directed by Curt Siodmak, introduced one of the most popular in Universal's stable of monsters, and the unlucky lycanthrope was miraculously resurrected a few times to guest-star in a number of mad monster party sequels, such as Frankenstein vs. the Wolf Man and Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein

The original film, however, was one of the most atmospheric of the Universal horror flicks, with impressive transformation scenes and painstaking makeup courtesy of Jack Pierce, menacing music, baroque and gnarly tree trunks sprouting from thick fogs of dry ice, a rich black and white palette, and, of course, that old devil moon. 

This is a solid B-movie cast all the way up and down the lineup.  Claude Rains is his usual peerless supporting self [see also: Casablanca, Notorious, The Adventures of Robin Hood], as Sir John Talbot, the unsuspecting father with the silver wolf's head cane.  B-Queen Evelyn Ankers is the unfortunate love interest, and Maria Ouspenskaya also adds great creepy quotient as the old gypsy woman who tries to warn Talbot of the werewolf curse:  "Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."  Did I mention that Lugosi is seen briefly as the original werewolf that infects Talbot?  Keep your eyes open for seasoned pro Ralph Bellamy in a change from his usual dull-but-nice-guy-who-doesn't quite-get-the-girl role as a local constable. 

After the Wolf Man, Chaney played a host of other horror roles including mummies and vampires and resurrected killers, as well as dull-witted heavies and henchmen, and also went on to do a lot of television work, before adding old school professionalism to a few legendary grade-Z efforts like Spider Baby and Hillbillies in a Haunted House.


"I've been cursed for delving into the mysteries of life!"  Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive), The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935.

Wipe your feet and turn off your cell phones, please.  Keep your hands inside the car at all times.  Management is not responsible for the welfare of those with heart conditions.   

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In the Mix:  a random shuffle of some movies we've played recently in our Now Playing program: 


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The Media Center is located on the fifth floor of the Library Learning Center.  Come up and see us some time.

 


This issue of  BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by Incredible Media Assistant Patrick "You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry" Jewell.  Tell your friends.

BCLMC  BROOKLYN CAMPUS LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us. 
Media Center Staff:
Andrea Slonosky,  Media Librarian  (718) 488-1311  Andrea.Slonosky@liu.edu
Patrick Jewell,  Media Assistant  (718) 488-3392  Patrick.Jewell@liu.edu
Lisa Rivera,  Media Assistant  (718) 780-4378  Lisa.Cotton@liu.edu