The founder of the Razzie Awards, given annually the day before the Academy Award ceremony to the worst in their categories for the year, has compiled...moreThe founder of the Razzie Awards, given annually the day before the Academy Award ceremony to the worst in their categories for the year, has compiled this guide to his choices for the hundred "best" bad pictures of all time. The earliest film is Maniac (AKA "Sex Maniac") (1934) and the latest is Glitter (2001). The films cover the full range of genres and are mostly U.S. made. The very few that are not were released dubbed.
Wilson writes well and made me laugh out loud repeatedly. He also made me want to search out some of these ludicrously awful films for a few more laughs. Recommended for connoisseurs of such things. (less)
This terrific book is the product of decades of interviews and correspondence by the author with the families, friends, and colleagues of Lugosi and K...moreThis 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!" (less)
I am fascinated by the popular culture of America in the first half of the 20th Century and have an interest in Gypsy Rose Lee so the subject matter...more I am fascinated by the popular culture of America in the first half of the 20th Century and have an interest in Gypsy Rose Lee so the subject matter was right up my alley. What I knew about Lee was more or less confined to the book of the broadway musical so I learned a lot. However, the writing style was a constant irritation. For some reason, the author found it necessary to jump decades forward and backward throughout the book so that there is no chronological narrative of Gypsy's life story. To make matters worse, the story of the Minsky family, which founded a burlesque empire in New York City, also jumps around and is interwoven with the Gypsy chapters. By the end of the book, I was wondering if the author had done this to obfuscate, though I'm not sure what. She did seem to promise more juicy murder details than she delivered, however. On balance, I'm glad I read it but I would steer clear of the author's other books. (less)
Liked the second in the series even better than the first. I'm weighing if the author cheated or was clever by having a victim and suspect with the sa...moreLiked the second in the series even better than the first. I'm weighing if the author cheated or was clever by having a victim and suspect with the same last name!(less)
Actually this is a 4.5 but I have rounded up. The mystery was not the main thing for me here. I just love Atkinson's prose, humor, and characterizatio...moreActually this is a 4.5 but I have rounded up. The mystery was not the main thing for me here. I just love Atkinson's prose, humor, and characterizations. I'll be listening to all of them now.(less)