The Body SNatcer - Boris Karloff Kay FrancisGene Tierney - Laura 1944Laura 1944 - Gene TierneyDana Andrews - 1944 - Laura Harry Carey and Betty Field

The Body Snatcher - 1945

Henry Daniell and Boris Karloff - Val Lewton The Body Snatcher 1945

The Body Snatcher - Released May 25, 1945. Directed by Robert Wise

Cabman Gray: What makes a thought start?

Dr. MacFarlane: The brain, I tell you I know!

Cabman Gray: You don't know and you'll never know! Look, look at yourself. Could you be a doctor, a healing man, with the things those eyes have seen? There's a lot of knowledge in those eyes, but no understanding...

Henry Daniell and Boris Karloff are in a 77-minute duel of will in The Body Snatcher as an ethically (and emotionally) compromised upper-class doctor (Daniell) finds himself in the power of the working class cabman John Gray (Karloff) a fellow who ferries both living and dead bodies, for a fee.

Daniell (as Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane) intends to do better and fly right, but with Karloff gleefully watching his every move and holding certain old secrets over his head, it just isn't going to happen. Bela Lugosi has a minor character in the tale who intends to cut-in on the blackmail game being played, but this turns out to be a very badly thought-out maneuver.

Daniell and Karloff are very good together and continually move the story into places that the camera can't show, that is, how the two men have separate bodies but share a mutual experience that Gray won't forget and MacFarlane keeps trying to, small comments eluding to things never exactly explained. Each actor provides long, restrained performances that use subtle modulations to let you know where everything is headed (Lugosi's small role is equally restrained, helping to turn the film into an unusual piece of drama for an exploitation title.)

Robert Wise (and producer Val Lewton) keep the movie rolling along, handling the material as if it isn't really a horror film but a period drama, but this can't be maintained, really, and it becomes a sideways-retelling of the real cadaver-supply scandal that happened in Edinburgh, Scotland, where two men named Burke and Hare took up the matter of finding corpses for medical schools to conduct training and research on, and then became not too picky about how they maintained the lucrative and steady supply of bodies. As much as this is the premise for the horror elements of Lewton and Wise's little movie about grave-robbing, the real tale is about two men (Daniell and Karloff) in an endless wrestle for the control of Dr. MacFarlane's soul.

Bela Lugosi - The Body Snatcher 1945Karloff

Laura - 1944

Laura 1944 - Directed by otto Preminger

Laura - October 11,1944. Directed by Otto Preminger

Over a decade before there was Hitchcock's Vertigo with it's obsessed detective (Jimmy Stewart) who can't get a dead girl out of his head, there was Preminger's 1944 Laura, with Gene Tierney as a dead girl so perfect (at least in the eyes of her friends and would-be husbands) that Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) who is continualy interviewing the lot of them (trying to find the killer) finds himself frustratingly falling in love with a ghost.

Laura 1944 - Directed by otto PremingerLaura 1944 - Directed by otto Preminger

Shepherd of the Hills - John Wayne

Shepherd of the Hills - John Wayne

Shepherd of the Hills - Released July 18, 1941. Directed by Henry Hathaway

Filmed partially in California (San Bernardino Forest), but meant to represent the Ozarks, the story chronicles the return of Harry Carey Sr (as Daniel Howitt) to a mountain community where family feuds and grudges control the lives of many of the people, and through Howitt's influence, some of this quagmire of trouble is mitigated. But it is his friendship with Young Matt Matthews (John Wayne) which is the true test of his influence, especially since there are reasons Masters might hate Howitt most of all.

Betty Fields as the superstitious and affectionate Sammy Lane and a supporting cast with Ward Bond, Beulah Bondi, James Barton, and Marjorie Main (among many other familiar faces from classic Hollywood) makes director Hathaway's movie a small-scale epic story of cross-generational ills. Not counting the 2010 Winter's Bone, this might be the best film about the Ozarks yet made.

Shepherd of the HillsShepherd of the HillsShepherd of the HillsShepherd of the HillsShepherd of the Hills

Sophia Loren

Vampira - Maila Nurmi


Plan 9 from Outer Space - Released July 22,1959. Directed by Ed Wood

Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Joseph Cotton

Joseph Cotton

Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum

Sophia Loren - 1967

Sophia Loren 1967

Boris Karloff - 1934

Boris Karloff 1934

Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy

Hitchcock - 2012

Hitchcock 2012 - Anthony Hopkins

Hitchcock - Released December 14, 2012. Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Gervasi's film of Hitchcock gives us the making of the movie Psycho as the frame for an episode in the life of the famous director. Examined are Hitchcock's relationships with his production company, cast, crew, and most importantly with his wife Alma. We get to see how important a role she played (i.e., very) in the creative and emotional shaping of Hitchcock's work.

Scarlett Johansson appears as actress Janet Leigh, not the most important part of this tale since is focuses more on the mechanics of the creative process (and the inner turmoil of artists), but Johansson brings the glamour which helps to paint a colorful story of Hollywood, circa 1960. Her character is seen as a stable and reliable element within a deeper story of insecurity and anxiety as Hitchcock attempts to put together his unusual production that lacks the full backing of the production company executives. Psycho will require Alma and Alfred to leverage their personal wealth, and the production becomes a contest that goes far beyond solving story problems and casting.

Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock, and the film has a bit of soap opera progression as questions naturally become evident: why is she with him? Do they actually even like each other? Will this marriage survive the trauma of Psycho and an attendant number of other pressures and threats?

The movie doesn't delve deeply into Hitchcock's psyche and try to unearth a psychological portrait of a man famed for his dark humor and dedication to the mystery genre, though it does hint around the edges and give Hopkins (as Hitchcock) some brief moments when illuminating comments are made that describe the director's origins, his childhood experiences, and the struggle of staying in control of the creative element that is viewed not as an artistic expression by executives, but as a product.

Hitchcock 2012 - Scarlett JohanssonHitchcock 2012 - Scarlett JohanssonHitchcock 2012 - Helen Mirren

MacBeth - 1978

In MacKellen - Macbeth - Judi Dench

MacBeth - Broadcast 1978. Directed by Philip Casson

Also known as A Performance of MacBeth - this bare-bones production is about Shakespeare's words with a minimum of visual distraction aside from the actors who dominate nearly every single frame, with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench doing the honors. An existing familiarity with other more fully-formed productions of the play is likely necessary to best appreciate the minimalism in this verbally inventive version.

Judi Dench - MacBethJudi DenchMacBeth 1978 - Royal Shakespeare Company -  Roger Rees as Malcomb

One is a Lonely Number - 1972

One is a Lonely Number - 1972

One is a Lonely Number - Released June 19, 1972. Directed by Mel Stuart

One is a Lonely Number - 1972Janet Leigh - One is a Lonely Number - 1972One is a Lonely Number - 1972One is a Lonely Number - 1972

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