This terrific book is the product of decades of interviews and correspondence by the author with the families, friends, and colleagues of Lugosi and KThis terrific book is the product of decades of interviews and correspondence by the author with the families, friends, and colleagues of Lugosi and Karloff. While the focus of the book is on the films the two actors made together and the so-called "rivalry" between the two, you get so much more. There is more or less a complete biography of both men with at least a mention of every film by each made after they catapulted to stardom in 1931. Some of the key solo films (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, etc.) and all the co-starred films get detailed coverage. When I say detailed, I mean anecdotes from every cast member the author could interview, budget details, salary details, and how the film was publicized. While this might sound dry, I can guarantee it is anything but. Just try out the stories about how openly gay director James Whale revealed an unexpected interest in the costuming of ladies' undies during the making of Bride of Frankenstein! In addition, in the course of describing the actors' social lives and their publicity activities, we get a wide perspective on Golden Age Hollywood.
It's pretty clear that Karloff never saw Lugosi as a rival or bore him any ill will. Lugosi, on the other hand, barely disguised a seething resentment at the fact that Karloff worked constantly and became a millionaire while he was bankrupt by October 1932 and struggled almost constantly after that working for peanuts in whatever came his way.
The author never comes to a definite cosclusion but others told him several times that one of Lugosi's biggest handicaps was his failure to master English. His thick accent simply wouldn't work for many parts. I wonder if his lack of fluency contributed to his persistent failure to stand up for himself.
Another strike against him, I think, was his age. Lugosi was 49 when Dracula was made (Karloff was 42 the same year). For an actor whose appeal, even in his "monster" role, was matinee idol looks, this was a late date to be starting a movie career. Karloff who was essentially a character actor had no such disadvantage. Finally, I think Karloff was simply a finer and more versatile actor. To be fair, however, Lugosi was a major star on the Hungarian stage and we will never know how he would have fared in his native tongue.
One anecdote provided by Ray Walston (who played Renfield in a stage revival of Dracula) - Lugosi's wife said "Well, you know, he was the John Barrymore of the Budapest stage!" And with that, Lugosi spoke up in alllll seriousness and said, "No, no. I was the Clark Gable of the Budapest stage!" ...more
This was an entertaining overview of the history of film from its origins in the late 19th century throughout the silent era, which lasted until the lThis was an entertaining overview of the history of film from its origins in the late 19th century throughout the silent era, which lasted until the late 1920's in the United States. The book covers the major inventors, directors, and stars of the period, and the author is just opinionated enough to add some spice.
One of the book's main strengths is the photos and poster art illustrations. I may have missed out on some of the impact of these by reading this as an ebook....more
If you are a aficionado of scathing but humorous reviews of bad films, this may be a good book for those times you can't concentrate on anything deepeIf you are a aficionado of scathing but humorous reviews of bad films, this may be a good book for those times you can't concentrate on anything deeper. It doesn't beat Roger Ebert's Your Movie Sucks or I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie in the laughs department, though. Note: I find this kind of book fun even if I haven't seen any of the movies. It may even be preferable to come to these reviews with a clean slate....more