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October 19, 2013

A MOST HAPPY BELA

Lugosi gives British journalists a scare as he arrives in England during the 1950s to make the film, My Son, the Vampire. This production was also known under the titles Vampire Over London, King Robot and several other incarnations.
Lugosi gives British journalists a scare as he arrives in England during the 1950s to make the film, My Son, the Vampire. This production was also known under the titles Vampire Over London, King Robot and several other incarnations.

Lugosi gives British journalists a scare as he arrives in England during the 1950s to make the film, My Son, the Vampire. This production was also known under the titles Vampire Over London, King Robot and several other incarnations.

 

LUGOSI LIVES ETERNAL

There’s not much new that can be said about horror film icon Bela Lugosi that hasn’t already been said before. He became ever-identified as Count Dracula. He turned down the role of Frankenstein, which made his contemporary, Boris Karloff, a big star. He engaged in a spiraling career of low-budget programmers and cinematic dreck. He became addicted to drugs in his declining years and only found occassional employment from Z-level producer Ed Wood.

Lugosi’s real life was as fascinating as his reel life. A matinee idol in his native Hungary with intense sex-appeal, he never seemed to get his footing in American cinema. What a great biopic his story would make! Here are some scenes from Bela’s career which I hope will give you some further appreciation of his fantastic talent.

 

Murders in the Rue Morgue came in 1932, right in the thick of the classic horror film cycle. It was a melange of violence, torture and sexual perversion that was allowable on screen only in those pre-Code days. Despite all this buzz, it was a disappointment at the box-office. Bela plays the creepy Dr. Mirakle, who lurks around nighttime Paris with his killer ape. Also in the cast is Arlene Francis, later of What's My Line TV fame, as a prostitute who is crucified in Mirakle's dungeon. Another co-star is Leon Ames (billed as Leon Waycuff), who later moved on to bigger and better things at MGM. I interviewed Ames years ago and asked him about this film and Lugosi. He would only comment that Bela seemed much like his screen roles---very quiet and strange. (c) Universal Studios

Murders in the Rue Morgue came in 1932, right in the thick of the classic horror film cycle. It was a melange of violence, torture and sexual perversion that was allowable on screen only in those pre-Code days. Despite all this buzz, it was a disappointment at the box-office. Bela plays the creepy Dr. Mirakle, who lurks around nighttime Paris with his killer ape. Also in the cast is Arlene Francis, later of What’s My Line TV fame, as a prostitute who is crucified in Mirakle’s dungeon. Another co-star is Leon Ames (billed as Leon Waycuff), who later moved on to bigger and better things at MGM. I interviewed Ames years ago and asked him about this film and Lugosi. He would only comment that Bela seemed much like his screen roles—very quiet and strange. (c) Universal Studios

 

 

One of the great horror films of the 1930s, The Black Cat co-starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Another pre-code piece featuring liberal helpings of necrophilia, torture and satanism--and that's just for starters! This 1934 production was directed by the legendary Edgar G. Ulmer and featured Lugosi in a rare sympathetic part--sort of. Check your brain at the door and enjoy the hammy overacting and the striking Art Deco sets. (c) Universal Studios

One of the great horror films of the 1930s, The Black Cat co-starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Another pre-code piece featuring liberal helpings of necrophilia, torture and satanism–and that’s just for starters! This 1934 production was directed by the legendary Edgar G. Ulmer and featured Lugosi in a rare sympathetic part–sort of. Check your brain at the door and enjoy the hammy overacting and the striking Art Deco sets. (c) Universal Studios

 

 

Not exactly The Walking Dead, Zombies on Broadway was a lame comedy that featured Bela as yet another mad scientist. This 1945 RKO misfire was a tragic waste of the actor's many talents. (c) RKO

Not exactly The Walking Dead, Zombies on Broadway was a lame comedy that featured Bela as yet another mad scientist. This 1945 RKO misfire was a tragic waste of the actor’s many talents. (c) RKO

 

 

Black Dragons was another of Bela's Monogram quickies made in the 1940s. It was a piece of WWII claptrap about Japanese agents undergoing plastic surgery to pass themselves off as American power brokers. I see the cab company's name has been blacked-out on the car door---they were probably too mortified to be associated with this dreadful waste of film stock. Oh well, at least we see that Bela is a good tipper! (c) Monogram

Black Dragons was another of Bela’s Monogram quickies made in the 1940s. It was a piece of WWII claptrap about Japanese agents undergoing plastic surgery to pass themselves off as American power brokers. I see the cab company’s name has been blacked-out on the car door—they were probably too mortified to be associated with this dreadful waste of film stock. Oh well, at least we see that Bela is a good tipper! (c) Monogram

This great production still from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) shows off Bela to great advantage! Even though the actor was well past his prime, doesn't he look vibrant and vital here? He had the good fortune to be part of this classic, which was really his last good film. Under his spell is luscious Lenore Aubert. She was imported from Austria by producer Sam Goldwyn and given a phony French name to enhance her 'mystery'. She quickly fell out of favor with Goldwyn and knocked around the lower rungs of Hollywood fare. This is the only movie in her portfolio that she'll be remembered for. (c) Universal Studios

This great production still from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) shows off Bela to great advantage! Even though the actor was well past his prime, doesn’t he look vibrant and vital here? He had the good fortune to be part of this classic, which was really his last good film. Under his spell is luscious Lenore Aubert. She was imported from Austria by producer Sam Goldwyn and given a phony French name to enhance her ‘mystery’. She quickly fell out of favor with Goldwyn and knocked around the lower rungs of Hollywood fare. This is the only movie in her portfolio that she’ll be remembered for. (c) Universal Studios

 

 

 

 

 






One Comment


  1. Mauricio

    Great pics, great Bela !



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