Post by codystarbuck on Mar 10, 2020 23:02:21 GMT -5
I've seen most of your list and would concur. I left out ones based on comics or comic strips, or the pulp heroes. Without that caveat, Green Hornet is an excellent serial, where they take down a different gang each chapter, leading to the big boss at the end. Sequel is pretty good, too. Zorro's Fighting Legion is a blast and has some of the best stuntwork of the era. Love King of the Rocketmen; but, thought the sequels (Radar Men From the Moon and Zombies of the Stratosphere) ere kind of dull.
The original Dick Tracy serial, with Ralph Byrd is tremendous fun and has some real mystery in it. It also has the boat stunt that Spielberg & Lucas copied for Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, and the same flying wing (and boat stunt) used in Fighting Devil Dogs. devil Dogs got the more colorful villain.
I am going to break my rule for a certain swashbuckler, with Tyrone Power.
I've actually for a few old school silent serials to discuss, coming up. Not so big on stunts and action, but great for mystery and intrigue.
Post by Prince Hal on Mar 10, 2020 23:46:49 GMT -5
Zorro’s Fighting Legion is right up there with Nyoka.
Daredevils of the Red Circle, in keeping with your theme, reminded me of the Challengers. Fun to watch with that in mind.
Oh, and another way that Desperate Journey reminds me of the Blackhawks was the mix of nationalities. Not as varied as the Blackhawks, but their backgrounds were mentioned often to emphasize the breadth of the Allied effort against the Nazis. Hale was a Scot, Kennedy a Canadian, Flynn an Australian and Reagan not just an American, but one who hailed from my beloved hometown, Jersey City.
I’ve never seen the Green Archer serial (1940), but it’s almost certain it had to have been a reason for Weisinger to come up with Green Arrow soon after.
Last Edit: Mar 11, 2020 9:36:52 GMT -5 by Prince Hal: Added photos and some info
"The rarer action is In virtue than in vengeance." -- The Tempest, 5.1
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 11, 2020 11:15:43 GMT -5
I've tried watching the Green Archer; but, it was really slow and dated. The original story is a drawing room mystery and the character is a killer; but, the serial treats him as a hero. not exactly Green Arrow; but, you can see an influence, though I suspect more for the name than the plot. The Adv of Robin Hood was obviously the main inspiration..
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 11, 2020 16:02:39 GMT -5
So, Lemuel Gulliver hasn't exactly lent himself to great classic films, though there are a few worthy of mention. First is the Fleischer Brothers classic...
The animated feature followed on the heels of Disney's Snow White, as Paramount wanted to copy the success of things and turned to the Fleischers, who had been doing cartoon short for Paramount (Popeye, Betty Boop, etc, and would do the legendary Superman cartoons of the 40s). They made extensive use of "rotoscoping," a technique where live action is filmed and animated cells traced over the frames, to give a more lifelike movement. The Fleischer's had developed the technique and patented it; but, their patent had expired by the mid 30s and Disney was able to use the process on Snow White. ironically, the Fleischers had been pitching a feature-length animated film; but, Paramount was skittish, after going through a series of financial upheavals. Snow White convinced them to go ahead, but, the Fleischers had to produce it in 18 months. They ended up using some people from the California animation world, including Ted Pierce, who would become noted as part of Chuck Jones' animation team, at Warner Bros.
The story focus, mainly and loosely, on the Lilliput segment of Gulliver's Travels and the rotoscoping is confined to key characters. The sequences are great and the film was a hit, even with a limited Christmas release. The original idea had been for Popeye to star in the feature, as Gulliver; but the idea was scrapped. Instead, they went with Gulliver, the town crier Gabby, King Bombo, Prince David and Princess Gloria. Music was a large feature to it and there is a longsih gap without Gulliver.
The feature was part of the sale of Fleischer cartoons to television (a result of financial hardships that started with a $350,000 penalty Paramount assessed against the Fleischers, for going over budget, despite the success of the film, in typical Hollywood accounting), with the end result that it is now in the public domain, along with the other Fleischer cartoons, including the early Popeyes, the Superman cartoons, and several others.
The next notable attempt was the 1960 Columbia feature, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, starring Kerwin Matthews. it is less notable for Matthews and more notable for featuring stop-motion animation from Ray Harryhausen.
Again, the film mainly focuses on Lilliput and Brobdingnag, focusing on size dynamics. The film is fine, for what it is, which is mainly an adventure for children. Matthews also starred in the much better Harryhausen film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, where he fights a skeleton, in a memorable sequence (more on Sinbad, later). There, the story is more of an all-ages affair, with fairy tale adventure for kids, some romance and action for adults, and some amazing effects, for the period.
George melies was one of the first to adapt Gulliver, in 1902, with Gulliver's Travels Among the Lilliputians and Giants. melies, himself, played Gulliver.
Mickey Mouse played Gulliver in a 1934 black & white short, while Hanna-Barbera produced a Saturday morning series, in 1968
Not exactly Jonny Quest. H_B also produced an animated adaptation for their Famous Classics line of specials, which usually aired on holidays. It was done by their Australian subsidiary, to whom they started farming out work in the early 70s.
The Soviets produced a version in 1935, The New Gulliver .
It featured stop motion and puppet animation, from director Alexander Ptushko. The film uses Gulliver as an allegory of capitalist exploitation, with Gulliver befriending the workers, who aid him against the government and factory owners.
In 1977, Richard Harris starred in a version, which was another mix of live action and animation, that was generally considered to be poorly rendered. the film was a joint british-Belgian production, which had major funding issues, resulting the film ending on a cliffhanger.
Gulliver was finally done some justice in a lavish tv mini-series production, starring Ted Danson (of all people), first broadcast in 1996. The adaptation was done in two parts and featured all four voyages from the original novel. Development had been long and involved Jim Henson's company, while he was still alive. he died before production was ever mounted; but, hi Creature Shop produced some CGI creatures. Ted Danson seemed an odd choice, other than his popularity from Cheers. however, the mini-series embraced the satirical and often vulgar tone of Swift and Danson proved perfect for that. the mini-series is widely praised and won 5 Emmy Awards.
Actors who appeared in it include Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif, John Gielgud, Edward Fox, Geraldine Chaplin, Alfre Woodard, and Danson's wife, Mary Steenburgen. Part 1 covers the familiar Lilliput and Brobdingnag, while Par 2 picks up with Laputa and the Land of the Houyhnhnms (the horse dudes).
Ultimately, while Gulliver has plenty of adventure, it is more a political and social satire and commentary, which is why most adaptations stuck to the more adventure-oriented segments.
That takes care of Gulliver's League; but, before we tackle the main league of Extraoridnary Gentlemen, I think we will detour into a character, derived from the pulps, who inspired tons of movies, tv shows, comic book adaptations and many a comic book character. I said I was going to skip the comic-based and pulp heroes, as having been well trod ground; however, sometimes, you need to be sly, like the fox!
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 12, 2020 20:41:29 GMT -5
Now, i said I wasn't going to do films based on comic strips, comic books or pulp novels, since these are supposed to be non-comic book based films. pulps would seem fair game; but I thought I'd tackle that later. However, I am breaking that rule this one time, for a hero that had a massive influence on comics and movies and brought a lot of those people together. That character is The Fox, or as the say in Spanish, Zorro.
Zorro began life in 1919, the pages of the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly, as it serialized Johnston McCulley's "The Curse of Capistrano." The story tells of Don Diego Vega, who masquerades as the bandit Zorro, to fight the evil capitan ramon and Sgt Gonzales. Modern readers might be surprised at how bloodthirsty the story is. It was written asa single adventure, with no further plans and Don Diego is revealed as Zorro, at the end.
It didn't take long for Hollywood to come calling and a silent movie was based on the story, with Douglas fairbanks starring in the Mark of Zorro, in 1920.
The film was a massive hit for the new studio, United Artists. McCulley was soon swamped with demands for more Zorro an eventually wrote 60 adventures. Fairbanks followed with a film sequel Don Q, Son of Zorro, which was based on Don Q's Love Story, by Katie and Hesketh Hesketh Prichard (a mother and son writing team). This was in 1925.
The next Zorro entry was 1936's The Bold Caballero, with Robert Livingston.
In this film, Zorro has been arrested and imprisoned for the murder of the new governor. he escapes and reveals his identity to the governor's daughter, Isabella. She turns him in ([email protected]#$!), but he persuades her the Comandante is the real killer and proves it and they ride off into the sunset at the end.
This was the first Zorro talkie and in color. It's not bad, though lacks the excitement of Fairbanks or the next entry. I had it on VHS and it was a bit slow, but had enough elements to make a decent Zorro film. Both the two silent Zorros and Bold Caballero are in the public domain and can be viewed on Youtube.
In 1940, we got probably the greatest Zorro of them all: 20th Century Fox's (and Darryl F Zanuck's) The Mark of Zorro, starring Tyrone Power.
The film finds young Don Diego de la Vega as a cadet, in Spain, at a military school, where he is the champion rider and fencer (and lover, as judged by the number of duels he fights). he is summoned home by his father and finds that people react in fear when he says he is the son of the Alcalde (mayor) of Los Angeles. It turns out his father was forced out, in favor of the corrupt Luis Quintero, who is aided by the ambitious Capitan Esteban Pasquale. Upon meeting the Alcalde, Diego adopts the disguise of a fop to sooth the Alcalde's suspicions. He charms Quintero's wife, Inez, which allays the suspicion's of esteban, though it does make him jealous. Diego returns home to find his parents, at their hacienda and hears of events. He continues to play the fop, which angers his father. He joins the Quinteros for dinner and meets their daughter, Lolita, who thinks little of him. they seek to marry her to Diego, to gain the support of the caballeros, by uniting with the family of the previous alcalde.
Meanwhile, Diego takes up the identity of Zorro, to prey upon Quintero's tax collectors and soldiers, stealing the money and passing it on to Friar Felipe (his old fencing and chess teacher) to return to the poor. he then romances Lolita. Esteban and Quintero set out to catch Zorro, who continues to elude them. Diego hatches a scheme to rid the pueblo of the Alcalde. He sneaks in on him as Zorro and holds a sword to his throat. Has him sign a confession and leaves him, blindfolded, with a swordpoint propped against his throat. Esteban comes in and finds him and thinks he is trying to kill himself. They eventually trace footsteps to a wine cellar, then discover a passage to the Alcalde's office. Quintero finds Diego waiting for him, who stirs his terror with tales of mad kilelrs in madrid. The Alcalde signs a letter to abdicate, until esteban shows up and threatens him. This leads to a threat to Diego, who accepts the offer of a fight...
This is probably the single greatest screen duel in cinematic history, with the two finest swordsmen in Hollywood. Basil Rathbone was by far the best and had demonstrated it in Captain Blood and The Adv of Robin Hood. power was pretty good himself and the pair tear up the Alcalde's office.
Power plays the fop with gusto, while Rathbone sneers as only he could. Linda Darnell is the love interest, Lolita, while pontagu Love is Don Alejandro vega, Diego's father. Character actor Eugene Pallette (who had been Friar Tuck, in Robin hood) was friar felipe, with Gail Sondergaard as Inez Quintero and J Edward Bromberg as Luis Quintero, the Alcalde.
The film is filled with great action, as Zorro steals from tax collectors, then rides up on two soldiers hanging a nted notice and forces them, at swordpoint, to replace it with his own, demanding the head of Quintero, before he chases off the soldiers. He robs Quintero's own coach, leaving a Z carved in the cushions. When things escalate, he sends a dead soldier, with a Z carved in his chest, as a warning to the Alcalde.
Only Friar Felipe (eventually) knows that Diego is Zorro, until he kills Esteban and Quintero figures it out. By that point, Don Alejandro has raised the caballeros in open revolt and Luis is forced to abdicate and go into exile, while Diego is set to marry Lolita.
The original Mark of Zorro was a big influence on bob Kane and one f many things he ripped off for Batman, including the foppish playboy, a hidden lair, and a masked identity. The fop alter-ego was, itself, taken from The Scarlet Pimpernel; but, more widely popularized through Zorro.
This is by far Power's best swashbuckler, though he is quite good in the film The Black Swan, with George Sanders and Maureen O'Hara, loosely based on the novel by Raphael Sabatini.
Zorro was the hero of several republic serials, though most in the title only. Zorro Rides Again features a descendent of the hero, while Zorro's Black Whip provides a female heir. Only Zorro's Fighting Legion has the original Zorro, as he leads a band of masked men against the villain Don Del Oro, who is stirring up the indians. Zorro is voiced by Reed Hadley; but physically played by legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. The serial recreates Canutt's wagon stunt from Stagecoach (later copied in Raiders of the Lost Ark)...
The stunt was also copied for The Legend of the Lone Ranger and nearly killed stuntman Terry Leonard, who suffered a broken leg. he took another stab at it in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The next Zorro was the 1957 Disney tv series, starring Guy Williams as Zorro and Henry Calvin as Sgt Garcia and Gene Sheldon as Diego's mute servant, Bernardo. Britt Lomond was Capitan Montesario, in the first season and the most memorable villain in the series.
This was the version of Zorro for Baby Boomers and is became a pop culture icon, setting off Zorro-Mania. Disney merchandised the heck out of it, including comic books from Western, drawn by Alex Toth, in , arguably, his greatest work.
8 episodes of Season 1 were edited together into the feature film, The Sign of Zorro.
It was pretty hard to follow this Zorro and it stood for many years. A second Disney compilation, Zorro the Avenger, was also released.
While this was going on in the US, Europe and mexico were busy producing their own Zorros, with numerous entries, some in name only, some with the hero. Hollywood even produced the Zorro knock-off, Mask of the Avenger, with John Derrick as the descendent of the Count of Monte Cristo, who takes up his sword as the masked Avenger to fight tyranny, as seen in the corrupt Anthony Quinn. I saw this version as a kid, on a family trip, and for years had the Count of Monte cristo and Zorro confused.
My first Zorro was the 1974 tv movie remake of the Power film, The Mark of Zorro, with Frank Langella.
This version used the original script and is (mostly) a shot-for-shot remake of the 1940 film, in color, with a tv budget. Ricardo Montalban co-stars as Esteban, Ann Archer as Lolita, Yvonne decarlo as Diego's mother, and Gilbert Roland as Don Alejandro.
A year later, a European production would feature Alain Delon and Stanley Baker in an excellent updating of Zorro.
This version is filled with adventure and humor and a thrilling duel at the climax, which rages across a cathedral. Delon did the film for his son, who was a huge Zorro fan. Both it and the Langella movie can be seen on Youtube.
1981 proved a big year for Zorro, as he got a new film in theaters and a cartoon, on Saturday morning. the film was Zorro, the Gay Blade, starring George Hamilton.
Hamilton had a big success with the Dracula spoof, Love at First Bite. Now, he and 20th century Fox tried Zorro. The premise was that Diego had a twin brother, Ramon, who had left the family. Ron Leibman is the new, evil alcalde. diego returns home to find the people oppressed. At home, his late father's effects are delivered to him, including a fencing dummy, that contains his sword and Zorro costume. He was the original Zorro. Diego takes up the blade and fights the alcalde's men; but, breaks his leg. Coincidentally, Ramon returns home, having heard of their father's death, to pay his respects. he has remade himself as Bunny Wigglesworth, an English sea captain and person who enjoys the company of men. He takes up the Zorro disguise, with a bit more flair and style (and color).
Basically, you could call this a "swishbuckler." Hamilton camps it up as Bunny/Ramon, while Diego is played straight (literally and metaphorically). Lauren Hutton is an American revolutionary love interest, while Ron Leibman is the alcalde and Brenda vacaro is his wife. many jokes are made of Diego's accent, the stupidity of the caballeros and the soldiers, the love triangle of Diego, Lauren Hutton and Brenda Vacaro. Ramon proves a better Zorro than Diego and helps him with his love life, before they team up to defeat the alcade.
The film was meant as a satire; but, falls flat at most turns and is rather insulting to homosexuals, as it plays up camp stereotypes for cheap laughs. sadly, those are the funniest parts. I had the novelization and it was hilarious. However, the actors step on punchlines, badly time the jokes and the whole production just makes a mess of things. It did okay at the box office, but is hardly a classic.
At the same time was the Filmation New Adventures of Zorro.
Henry Darrow voiced Diego/Zorro and the cartoon followed the basic style of the Disney series. It made use of Filmation's dabbling in rotoscoping, primarily for the dueling sequences. since it was Saturday morning, there could be no blood and villains were disarmed and never stabbed, while each episode ended in a Spanish lesson, to fulfill the educational mandate. The series was pretty good and has the servant, Miguel, rides with him as a masked sidekick. Only one season of 13 episodes was produced, though they got good mileage out of it. It was released on a bargain-priced DVD. This was the first Filmation cartoon to be farmed out overseas, as Tokyo Movie Shinsa did the animation work.
Darrow would figure into the next Zorro, in 1983, the short lived ABC tv series Zorro and Son. darrow was the elder Zorro, while Paul Regina was his son, carlos, who takes up the mantle. Only 5 episodes were broadcast. It also starred Bill Dana as Bernardo
That would be it, for several years, as the failures of Zorro the Gay Blade and Zorro and Son had poisoned the well for better productions. Finally, in 1990, New World Television teamed up with the Family Channel, to bring back Zorro, with Duncan Reger in the title role.
Once again, Henry Darrow is here, playing Don Alejandro. Things were updated to make Diego studious, rather than foppish, and he uses his wits and science to solve problems as much as sword and fists. Again, the basic episode structure was similar to the Disney series. It looked a bit cheap and "Hollywood bacKlot;" but, it was pleasantly entertaining and had a good cast. Efrem Zimbalist Jr was Don Alejandro for the first season, with Darrow coming on in the second. The Alcalde also changed as Michael Tylo played him for the first two seasons and JG Hertzler in the last 2. The premise was pretty well played out long before it ended, resulting in repetitive plots. However, it was good family fun, without excessive blood or violence and actually gave kids a hero who used his brain. Marvel Comics produced a comic book tie-in that was quite good, if not quite in league with Toth.
Zorro would languish a bit as several attempts for a new film fell by the wayside, including one intended for Steven Spielberg. In the end, martin Campbell would direct and Antonio banderas would live out a childhood dream and play a new Zorro.
This was tremendous! the film had style and charm and updated things for new audiences, without losing what made Zorro a perennial favorite. Banderas is Alejandro Murrieta, whose brother Joaquin and he witness Zorro aiding the people in the revolt that led to Mexico's independence. The boys help Zorro and he gives them a reward, then returns to his family. Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) figures out Don Diego de la Vega is Zorro and captures himin his home, after his wife is killed. montero takes Diego's daughter as his own and flees with the Spanish. 20 years later, he returns, with daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) and Diego escapes jail and meets up with thief Alejandro Murrieta, whose brother was murdered by an American soldier, aiding Montero. Diego realizes he was one of the boys that aided him and trains him to be the new Zorro, while masquerading as his servant. They infiltrate Montero's society and uncover his plans to buy California from Santa Anna, using gold mined with slave labor. meanwhile, Alejandro is enamored of Elena and she with Zorro. Togther, Diego, Elena and Alejandro defeat Montero and his scheme. Diego is killed but Elena learns the truth.
Banderas was electric as the next generation Zorro, while Hopkins was excellent as the aged Zorro, who now mixes elements of the Count of Monte Cristo into things. catherine Zeta Jones became a star with her performance here and the chemistry is fantastic, while Stuart Wilson oozes evil.
The film was a smash and a sequel, the Legend of Zorro followed. This one sees Alejandro and Elena married, with children. it ends up being a family business. the movie is less satisfying; but, is decent entertainment.
There are other Zorros, animated and film; but, these are the best or most important. Youtube can satisfy you tastes for most, apart from the 1940 film and the Banderas films (and Disney), which are available via commercial platforms. See why young Bruce Wayne thrilled to the exploits of Zorro, just before his life was shattered.
Now, we return to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as we take a look at the cinematic adaptations of Allen Quatermain and King Solomon's Mines and other H Rider Haggard adaptations). Come see the inspiration for not just a member of the league but also portions of Mike Grell's Jon Sable, Freelance.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 16, 2020 22:45:33 GMT -5
So, one of the granddaddies of adventure fiction was H Rider Haggard. Haggard was the creator of both She, the tale of Ayesha, queen of a hidden civilization, in Africa; and, Allan Quatermain, hunter, adventurer and relatively immortal hero. He's our main focus; but, we will discuss She, as Ayesha had a crossover with Alan.
First off, it's Quatermain, not Quartermain! Allan first met the light of day in 1885, in the novel King Solomon's Mines. Allan is 55, short, wiry and unattractive. he has a beard and short hair, that sticks up. However, he is a deadly marksman, an experienced big game hunter, and an experienced tracker and explorer, who lives in Durban, South Africa. He is hired by Sir Henry Curtis and his friend captain Good to find Sir henry's missing brother, who went off into the wild, seeking the fabled mines of King Solomon. Quatermain has a map, purported to mark the mine, though he has never believed it. he agrees to lead the expedition, for a share of the treasure of a stipend for his son, if he should be killed. The set out with bearers, including Umbopa, who has a very regal bearing. They cross the veldt and a desert, before coming to an oasis, as they are enar death. They eventually find the maintain range marked on the map and find the Portuguese explorer who created the map, dead, in a cave. They eventually encounter the Kukuana people and are saved from death when captain Good plays with his false teeth and scare the natives, who believe them to be gods. They bluff their way to meeting King Tawala, who usurped the throne of the previous king, driving out the queen and her infant son. it is soon revealed that Umbopa is that son and rightful king. the party does find the treasure mine and is nearly buried alive within, until the find a way out.
The novel was first filmed in 1937, with Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Allan.
This was a British production and is considered to be the most faithful to the original novel. I've not seen this version; but, it is available on Youtube.
The next version is the most famous, shot in 1950, with Stewart Granger in the role and deborah Kerr as the love interest (the 1937 version first added a daughter of the missing explorer). In this version, Elizabeth Curtis hires Quartermain to help her find her missing husband, and they are accompanied by her brother, John Goode. Again, they find the treasure cave and the remains of Elizabeth's husband. they are trapped inside and escape, then witness Umbopa win his throne bac and then provide them an escort back to Durban.
This version was done by MGM, in Technicolor, and shot on locations in Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the Congo) and makes great use of the locales and shots of the wildlife and scenery. However, it does depict the natives as suspicious and superstitious, and inferior to White Society (as did the '37 film and Haggard's novel). It ups the ante with a romance between Elizabeth Curtis and Allan, plus it increases the hazards. The producers wanted Errol Flynn to star; but, he chose to do Kim, instead, trading Haggard for Kipling. Granger had the looks, but is a bit of a stiff actor, compared to the people he often replaced, but did a fine job in Technicolor adaptations of swashbucklers (Prisoner of Zenda and Scaramouche) and adventurers (King Solomon's Mines). He looks the part of the classic big game hunter, based on the men of the period. Granger's look in the film, including his leopard-skin hatband, was copied by Mike Grell for the safari wear of Jon Sable, in his eponymous series. i asked Grell about that and it was deliberate, though he noted that it was fairly standard safari and hunting wear. Funny thing is, that is what you used to be able to buy from Abercrombe & Fitch, before they becae noted for homoerotic photos of male models; and, at Banana republic (when I was in high school), before they became high end leisure wear. I used to get their catalog, which was filled with safari gear, leather bomber jackets, and Indiana Jones fedoras. My how times change!
King Solomon's mines is one of the big influences for the African lost world adventures, though Haggard didn't invent the genre (which includes Conan Doyle's Prof Challenger books, starting with The Lost World) and ER Burroughs' Tarzan and Land That Time Forgot). It is a major influence on Indiana Jones and helped inspire the film, Secret of the Incas, in 1954, with Charlton heston, which has scenes stolen note for note by Raiders of the Lost Ark. there is much Allan Quatermain in Prof Henry Jones Jr.
In the novels, Allan ages from 18 to 68 and has multiple adventures, including Allan Quatermain, the sequel to King Solomon's Mines. it finds Allan, after the death of his son, longing to return to the wild. he persuades Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good to accompany him into Masai territory, with kidnappings and gruesome battles. This factored into the next adaptation of Allan, for the 1979 Canadian film King Solomon's Treasure, which mixes story elements from both novels. John Colicos (Baltar, on Battlestar Galactica) stars as Allan, with David McCallum and Britt Ekland. it was done on the cheap and mcCallum only did it for the trip to Swaziland. It is considered to be an embarrassment for all involved.
When raiders of the Lost Ark became a big hit, imitators followed and Allan Quatermain was dusted off for a pair of films, starring Richard Chamberlain: King Solomon's Mines and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
Someone really needs to teach that narrator how to pronounce the name ...Qua-ter-main.
The film uses the basic Haggard premise (and Chamberlain has a copy of Granger's safari hat), then chucks everything out the window to do an Indian Jones rip-off. It was from the Cannon Group, aka Golan & Globus, which means done on the cheap with C-list stars and lots of guns and explosions and swipes form anything that made big box office. It stars Richard Chamberlain, with Sharon Stone in one of her early notable roles, as well as Herbert Lom slumming it, and John Rhys-Davies picking up a check in between Lucas & Spielberg gigs. Davies knew Chamberlain from Shogun and the cast is about the only thing worth noting in this mess, aside from a much lighter tone. Racism abounds and the Arab League panned the depiction of Arabs as slavers (though history has a lot to support that portrayal, though just as much for Europeans and Africans). It was shot in Zimbabwe, which wasn't the long into its independence, with Robert Mugabe stealing the country blind (and probably the filmmakers, though Golan & Globus were possibly shadier than Mugabe). It was shot with an Israeli and South African crew, which didn't help its international reputation. In the end, it is stupid fun, without anything original and made money, though it was nominated for two Razzie awards (for Lom and Jerry Goldsmith's score). The film was directed by J Lee Thompson, who had done The Guns of Navarone, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and the Charles Bronson films St Ives and 10 to Midnight. As such, he knew how to handle the action. The sequel, from tv director Gary Nelson tanked at the box office and was savaged by critics (despite James Earl Jones shaming himself in the film). Cannon intended a third film, with a potential adaptation of Allan & She dropped, as well as Allan Quatermain and the Jewel of the East.
Allan was dusted off again for a 2004 miniseries, with Patrick Swayze, as the least likely Allan yet.
Now, getting back to Haggard, there is She (who must be obeyed). It tells the story of a lost civilization, hidden in Africa, descended from the Greeks. It is led by a white queen, Ayesha, who is She-who-must-be-obeyed. She bathes in a pillar of fire to renew her immortality. The character would reappear in Ayesha, The return of She and Wisdom's Daughter, as well as the Allan Quatermain novels She and Allan and Nada the Lily.
There have been several Ayesha films, including one by film pioneer George Melies; however, the best remembered is the 1965 Hammer adaptation, with ursula Andress in the title role.
The story gets messed with; but, it is from Hammer's better period and is great fun, with Hammer stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher lee and comedic actor Bernard Cribbins (Dr Wo-Dalek's Invasion Earth 2150 AD ). Andress is fine to look at but was never a great actress; but, the rest of the cast do the heavy lifting. It did well enough for a sequel, Vengeance of She....
Only John Richardson returned, with Ursula Andress replaced by Olinka Berova, who made Andress look like Meryl Streep. The film did not do well and no further films followed. A sequel had riginally been planed to start soon after the 1965 film; but, Andress' contract had expired and she refused to reappear.
Allan Quatermain would be used as written by Haggard, in Allan moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though he first has to deal with an opium addiction. the film version skipped that and made him old and gave him Tom Sawyer (for an American character) to be his protege. Sean Connery portrayed the aging hero and does what he can with it, but he fought with the director , who also bristled under thestudio system, after helming the lower expectation Blade (making it a hit). Stories abound of Conery taking over directing scenes and grousing endlessly, despite his massive salary. his motivation to do it was having passed up The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings and the hunger for a massive payoff. It didn't come, though his up front salary was pretty big. Connery pretty much retired from films. Sad thing was that the script, from comic writer James Robinson, was better than what got made, as Fu manchu had to be dumped, Hawley Griffin had to be renamed and Tom Sawyer was forced on them by the studio.
Next, a look at Allan's colleague Dr Henry Jekyll and his notorious other self, Edward Hyde, as we look at two classic versions, with Frederic March and Spencer Tracy. We will not speak of the horror that is Mary Reilly.
I know you're focusing on the League characters, but Zorro just begs to be compared & contrasted with the Cisco Kid.
I'll get to Cisco (and Pancho) eventually, though that was mostly remembered as the tv series, with Duncan Renaldo, and I am concentrating more on movies that either influenced comics and comic characters, or feature characters, stories or stylings which share the same traits as comic book characters and stories. I will look at the film series, though, and the tv show, as well as the tv movie, with Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin (which was pretty good).
And don't forget the Masked Cowboy Westerns of the 30/40's who were there alongside Zorro. 1 1940 Deadwood Dick, 1941 The Masked Rider, 944 The Durango Ki and their likes. Not to mention Tim MCCoy who in several of his movies duriong the 30's and 40's would portray a government agent adopting a undercover disguise as a Mexican/Spanish bandit working his way into gangs to capture them. The Westerns was full of heroic ideals, some original, some borrowed, some outright stolen at times, but all following in the steps of comic books with a hero/heroine, a love interest, a side kick/partner and the villains they stood against and conquered.
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 19, 2020 18:02:24 GMT -5
Now, we turn to horror, as we explore The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The novella was written in 1886, by Robert Louis Stevenson. It features a lawyer, Gabriel John Utterson, who investigates a man named Edward Hyde, who trampled a young girl, then produced a check from a Henry Jekyll to avoid a scandal. Hyde kills a client of Utterson's and police search Hyde's apartment and find the head of a cane, belonging to Jekyll. Eventually, Utterson learns that Jekyll, a man who has fought his base desires, has developed a potion to eliminate his evil side; but, which brings it out into the physical transformation into Edward Hyde. Hyde is smaller and cruel, yet grows in power as he is released, until he no longer needs the potionto emerge, but Jekyll needs it to regain consciousness. Eventually, jekyll runs low on chemicals and subsequent batches don't work and he finds he will be trapped as Hyde.
The book was published as what is known as a "penny dreadful," one of the early forms of the pulp novel. A favorable review in The Times elevated its stature and led to a stage production, where the transformation scenes were said to cause audience members to faint (though corets and poor ventilation are more likely causes). During the Jack the Ripper killings, suspicion was even thrown on Richard mansfield, who produced the stage production in London for 10 weeks.
Film adaptations began in 1908; but it is the 1931 version that is our first subject.
Frederick March plays the dual role and the production was carried out before the imposition of the Hayes Code, which allowed for more sexual content, centering around a music hall singer, Ivy Pierson. Jekyll saves Ivy from the attack of a man, outside her boarding house. She then attempts to seduce him, but he leaves. he then develops the potion that unleashes his evil side, Edward Hyde and then turns his attention on Ivy, approaching her at the music hall, where she works. hyde takes up residence with her and sexually and mentally abuses her. Hyde reverts to Jekyll, who, out of guilt, sends money to Ivy. She recognizes him as the man who saved her before and pleads for him to help her stop Hyde. He says he will never bother her again. Jekyll vows not to take the potion; but, spontaneously changes into Hyde and murders Ivy.
March won the Academy Award for his performance and he is great, though it s somewhat stylized in presentation, as many films of the era were. The transformation scenes were achieved with makeup of contrasting colors. The makeup was then shot with color filters which matched the make-up, allowing it to disappear or appear, depending on the filter. The ape-like image and large canine teeth became synonymous with the character and became embedded in the public mind. The film is a great mystery and character piece, though it does sem primitive,to today's standards. The acting is very stage-influenced, as film acting was still a developing art.
As Jekyll, March is repressed and mild, a paragon of virtue, but with repressed desires. His aim is to rid himself of such desires; but, in the end, he creates a new personality, which is given form, by the potion, which is the summation of his base desires and id. He is the monster within all mankind. When he is released, he longs to stay free and each time he is becomes more terrible than the last.
Further adaptations would follow, with the most noted being the 1941 MGM version, with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman. Lana Turner is Bea Emery, Jekyll's fiance, while Bergman is Ivy, who sings and dances in a provocative costume. Originally, the roles were reversed; but, Bergman pleaded with director Victor Fleming to switch them, as she was tired of playing virtuous characters. After a screen test, it was agreed.
Because of the Hayes Code restrictions, the 1941 version became the version seen by most, in theaters and, later, on television. Tracy is excellent, though the make-up informs character more than actor, as in the March version. Tracy's transformation is probably better known..
The film is a great technical marvel, as Fleming uses much symbolism for the sexual elements, as well as more stylistic staging to scenes. The film is notorious among BDSM fetishists for its hallucination scene, where Jekyll has a vision of himself swinging a whip, as he drives a speeding coach, pulled by Turner and Bergman, in implied nudity.
Such images had great influence on fetish artists, like John Willie, creator of the Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline fetish melodrama strips, published by himself and Irving Klaw (publisher of many of the Bettie Page photos), which influenced the later film The Perils of Gwendoline (or just Gwendoline) from French filmmaker Just Jaeckin, starring Tawny Kitaen. That film includes a scene in a gladiatorial arena, where Gwendoline drive a chariot pulled by "pony girls.," in the hidden city. That film (and costume) , in turn, influenced Dave Stevens' cover for Dark Horse Comics first issue of the European comics anthology Cheval Noir. Even Alan Moore, who is not a fan of movies, noted that scene, in discussion of his Hyde, in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Tracy's version would influence countless comic and film adaptations and spoofs, such as the Looney Tunes cartoon "Hyde and Go Tweet," (where Tweety drinks Jekyll's formula and beats the snot out of Sylvester) and a Gilligan's Island episode dream sequence (where Gilligan dreams he is Jekyll & Hyde, after the others have disappeared). The biggest comic book influence, aside from LOEG, would be The Incredible Hulk, where Lee and Kirby took the premise and added a nuclear angle. In early stories, the Hulk was very Hydish, who is also articulate in the work, then became more brutish as he was dumbed down. Further influences include Johnny Bates and Kid Miracleman, in Alan Moore's Miracleman comic (originally Marvelman), where Bates grew up in his superhuman form and became a twisted monster (psychologically) of immense power, devoid of any morality, who nearly kils Miracleman the first time and devastates London the second. The first time, Miracleman accidentally leads Bates into saying "Kimota!", the transformation trigger word and he reverts from the adult Kid Miracleman form to the still-a-child Johnny Bates. bates is traumatized and catatonic afterward and housed in a hospital, until he comes out of it and is moved to a state orphanage, where he is subjected to repeated abuse and finally gives in and triggers the change, as he is about to be raped by a psychotic teenager at the school. Kid Miracleman is unleashed and he goes on a rampage, flaying skins off of bodies and hanging them from washing lines, piling corpses in central London and destroy all in his path, until Miracleman and his allies force KM to change back to Bates. Kid Miracleman becomes a Nietzschean version of Hyde, as Bates grows up in his superpowered form, with not adult restrictions or moral codes. He commits rape in his early teens and acquires a lust for power and grows in his body until his knowledge of its full potential is well beyond the adult Miraclemen, who has only just re-emerged.
Next, we look at The Invisible Man, with Claude Ranes, in the Universal adaptation of the HG Wells novella.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 19, 2020 18:20:00 GMT -5
Just a note; I intend to look at all kinds of films, though mostly adventure, action and horror films that have strong crossovers or influences with comic books. i intend to look at Blaxploitation heroes like Shaft and Black Samson, the films of Jim Kelly and Fred Williamson, the Fu Manchu films, the Dr Mabuse films, the adaptations of Fantomas, the French silent serials of Louis Feuillade (Judex and Les Vampyres), The Adv. of Buckaroo Banzai, the Indiana Jones films, Romancing the Stone & Jewel of the Nile, Gun Busters (aka Sky Bandits), Disney's Condorman, various Hong Kong and Taiwan action and kung fu films, a few spoofs, some politically oriented films, some sci-fi features,, a comedy or two, some low-budget actioners and exploitation films, and some lucha libre movies. You'll find all kinds of films that were swiped by comics or vice versa, or which explored similar characters in different styles. I also want to look at a few war films which compare well to the best of the war comics genre, as well as some westerns that have similar crossover. Then, there are the great swashbucklers, caper films and gun-toting vigilante films, with more testosterone and Freudian images than you can shake a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 at. We'll see a group of female agents who beat Charlie's Angels to the punch (and kick) and a pack of Ten Gladiators, who are kind of like an oiled Justice League (with better pecs). We'll see bad dubbing, goofy fight scenes, cheap sets, big budget films, Academy Award-winners, and ex-football players.
Then, maybe I'll do a side one for films and tv shows based on actual comics and pulp novels.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 21, 2020 22:06:27 GMT -5
Next up is definitely not a hero; but, he isn't without sympathy. When you see a man with his head wrapped in bandages, covering his entire face, you can only wonder if he is invisible, underneath. This is the legacy of HG Wells' Invisible Man. The original novel was serialized in 1897, before being published as a complete novel. It tells the story of a mysterious man, named Griffin, who turns up in a winter snowstorm, in Iping (in West Sussex), taking lodging there. His head is swathed in bandages, covering his gace, with dark glasses over his eyes, and wearing heavy clothing, covering the rest of his body. he is easy to anger, demanding and private and inspires curiosity in the village. He runs out of money and resorts to theft to pay his bills, before his landlady demands full payment and he partially reveals his invisibility to her. he ends up on the run, after a murder and commits more, before encountering on old friend, to whom he relates the story of discovering invisibility. His mental state deteriorates and he ends up on the run, while also targeting his former friend.
The book is a mixture of science fiction, mystery and horror, inspired by the poem "The Perils of Invisibility, from Boys Ballads, by WS Gilbert, as well as Plato's Republic. The novel, itself, was part of a trend of fiction for adults that drew on the kinds of stories that featured in youth literature, including the Boys Own papers, which inspired the comedy series Ripping Yarns, with Michael Palin. Such writers of these Boys Tales for Adults included Wells, Kipling, Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.
The novel was a sensation, though the science is ludicrous. It is both a tale of an evil madman and a tragic figure, whose invisibility gives him great power; but also curses his life. As such, it was ripe for adaptation.
The first notable version, and the one everyone remembers, is the 1933 James Whale classic, from Universal, starring Claude Rains...
Rains is terrific as the demanding and nasty Griffin, capturing the mania and melancholy, the power and the curse. Rains wasn't the original choice of star. the film started out to be another Boris Karloff picture; but, he departed over attempts to cut his contractual salary. The director was replaced by James Whale, who wanted Rains in the role and no one else. it's hard to imagine the film without Rains, as he became synonymous with the film and the subject of much pop culture (right down to Bugs Bunny references). Also appearing are William Harrigan, Una O'Connor (Adv of Robin Hood) and Henry Travers (the angel Clarence, in It's a Wonderful Life). O'Connor is especially memorable as the landlady of the inn, in Iping.
Griffin is given the first name Jack, which is not in the novel (his first name is never given by Wells). The screenplay was by RC Shariff, novelist Phillip Wylie (Gladiator, When World's Collide, both of which factor into the birth of Superman) and writer/director Preston Sturges. The film makes Griffin far more sympathetic, giving him a love interest and a desire to make a scientific breakthrough to be proven worthy of the girl, Flora. The story includes elements from Wylie's novel, The Murderer Invisible, published in 1931.
The film is noted for its innovative special effects. clothes are moved around with wires, as are other objects; but, there are scenes with a clothed Rains where he is partially invisible. This was achieved through an earlier version of bluescreen/green screen filming). Rains was covered in black velvet and shot against a black velvet background, which caused those parts to mostly drop out (sometimes you can see the outline) and used for invisible effects for years after (as well as things like chroma key and the aforementioned blue screen).
Rains is just fantastic and this, along with Whale's Frankenstein, is one of the best of the Universal horror films.
So successful was the 1933 film that pretty much every film done after appears as a cheap knockoff. Universal followed with The Invisible Man Returns, with Vincent Price, in 1940. Price plays a completely different character and that is pretty much the formula, ever since. Universal followed with The Invisible Woman, the Invisible Agent (who got 10% of the Invisible Actor's earnings, I assume), The Invisible Man's Revenge, and Abbot and Costello Meet The Invisible Man (and he turns up in A&C Meet Frankenstein). Some of these were played for laughs and others were serious; but, none were as memorable (though A&C add their own elements that make it work better).
Chevy Chases memoirs of the Invisible Man was a modern attempt, though marred by star ego, a different studio vision (they wanted a comedy, Chase wanted something that would help him do more serious stuff), multiple writers (including William Goldman, who walked away, saying, "I'm too old and rich for this [email protected]#$!") John Carpenter was brought in to direct and the result was a bomb $14 million on a budget of 30-40 million) and savaged by critics.
Somewhat better received was Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man, with Kevin Bacon, that was closer in tone, with Verhoeven's usual touches, though he deliberately toned down the sex and violence, compared to his previous films. He often used the character's POV to take viewers along with the character as he goes from playful, to naughty, to evil. Verhoeven remarked that people went a lot further in sympathy for the character than he expected, even after he commits a rape.
The trailer plays up the horror element, though the film takes time to get to that point. ironically, the horror elements were what critics hated most, equating them with cliched slasher film stuff, with the earlier elements being the stronger parts.
An even worse sequel followed, as is par for the course.
When Universal tried to do a reboot of their horror franchises, Johnny depp was supposed to play the Invisible Man; but, the series was scrapped, after The Mummy underperformed and received mostly negative reviews. The idea was dropped and a new modern version, which is more a domestic violence horror film, was released this past February.
The character was used in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the name was still under copyright; so, Alan Moore called him Hawley Griffin, using the first name of the infamous medical murderer, Dr Hawley Crippen. Moore's Griffin was central to the plot of the first two volumes and is a decidedly evil character from the word go. For my money, Griffin and Edward Hyde are the most interesting characters of the League, with Griffin fostering his own alliances, shifting back and forth, and Hyde proving to have a nobel side, with his devotion to Mina Murray. Griffin gets his just deserts in a rather violent, yet earned fashion, given how he enters the story. Very Old testament.
The film version of the League, due to the legalities, gives us a different Invisible Man, in the part of Rodney Skinner, who is just an Invisible Man, rather then the Invisible Man. As with most elements of the movie, it wasn't an improvement.
Tv attempted the property a few times. In 1958 there was an espionage series by that name. In 1975, we got a new film, with a government/espionage/betrayal theme, starring David McCallum. McCallum is a researcher on a corporate project, who is obsessed with the possibilities of invisibility. His bosses are obsessed with the idea of such for military purposes. The two sides clash and McCallum is permanently (it seems) made invisible. A fairly decent pilot movie led to a series, which was lighter in tone and rather repetitive in plots, followed, but lasted 12 episodes, before being shut down and retooled. A new pilot, with a new character, titled Gemini Man, was broadcast, starring Ben Murphy, has an experiment that turns Murphy's character invisible, with the side effect of killing him, the longer he remains invisible. A watch is devised that restores him and saves his life. From there, he can turn it on and off, using the watch; but, he must revert back before too much time passes. The pilot was serious and did well; but, the same problem of tone plagued the series and only 5 episodes were shown, though 11 were filmed. Two were edited together for the film Riding with Death, that was featured on the Mike Nelson MST3K.
In 2000, the Sci-Fi Channel launched a new version, with a thief who is coerced into working with a government experiment, and then becomes an agent. The effects work were done with CGI, with silver-related invisibility effects, related to the brain chemical Quicksilver, that allows the hero to be invisible. The series was fine, for what it was; but the writing wasn't especially challenging and the tone tended to be lighter.
Next up, a look at Captain Nemo and his various film adventures; not just the Disney classic, but several other film appearances, as both star and supporting character. See such actors as james Mason, Herbert Lom, Robert Ryan, Omar Shariff and Jose Ferrer play the infamous science pirate.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 25, 2020 16:43:52 GMT -5
Next, the cinematic adventures of my favorite Extraordinary Gentleman; the science pirate Captain Nemo.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (the title refers to the distance traveled by the Nautilus, not the depth, smartypants) was published in 1870, written by Jules Verne. The novel is told through the point of view of Pierre Aronnax, a noted French marine biologist. He and his servant, Conseil, sail on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, an American Naval frigate, along with Canadian whale harpooner Ned Land. They are searching for a creature, allegedly sighted in the proximity of several ships, from various countries, that sank mysteriously.. Their ship is also attacked by the monster, believed to be a species of whale or a narwal, and the three protagonists are thrown overboard. They climb aboard the monster and discover that it is a metal submersible. They then meet its captain, known only as Nemo. He recognizes Aronnax, by reputation and invites (read compels) him to join him in exploration of the ocean, while he continues to attack vessels of war. Late in the book, Nemo reveals he is an exile from a land conquered by imperialists and uses his advanced technology on those who wage war and gain through conquest. Within the novel he aids rebels against the Ottoman Turks, showing that he is a friend to the oppressed.
Verne's original draft portrayed Nemo as Polish, his family killed in the Polish Uprising of 1863, against Imperial Russia. His publisher worried about book sales, as Russia was a strong market for French literature. There is still an allusion to Tadeusz Kosciuszko's (one of several foreign Patriots in the American Revolution) rebellion against Russian, in 1794. With the alterations, Nemo's nationality is more nebulous, until it is cleared up in the sequel, Mysterious Island. That novel features a group of Union soldiers who escape a Confederate prison, in a balloon, ending up on an uncharted island. Eventually, they meet up with Nemo, who has been on the island since he disappeared at the end of 20, 000 Leagues. In the novel, it is explained, that he is Prince Dakkar of India, descendent of the Tipu Sultan, who took part in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. This is the background that Alan Moore used, presenting an actual Indian Nemo, with Kevin O'Neill's character designs, plus hindu art additions to their version of the Nautilus.
Nemo and his adventures captured the imaginations of generations, as the novel presented a world beneath the sea and fantastic technology used to explore it. Verne didn't think up the technology. The submarine had already appeared in a few forms: The Turtle, from the American Revolution, Robert Fulton's Nautilus (built in 1800) the Hunley, built by the Confederates in 1863, and the Sub Marine Explorer, built in 1864. Diving equipment had existed, both in the form of the hardshell suits, with air pumped into the diver's helmet, and a self-contained rig developed in 1865. Verne wrote that the Nautilus was electrically powered, with no allusions to nuclear power, which was barely theorized in that period. Most of those ideas would come from film versions, which framed the way many interpret things in the novel (if they ever actual read it).
Such a fantastic story was ripe for other media and the Nautilus would appear on movie screens as early as 1907, in a short film by Georges Melies. A silent feature film was produced in 1916. A radio adaptation was broadcast in 1947, on the program Favorite Story, hosted by Ronald Coleman. The story was presented as the favorite story of Orson Welles. In 1952 it was adapted into a two-part television presentation, on the science fiction anthology Tales of Tomorrow. However, 1954 would bring the world the most famous adaptation: the Walt Disney production of 20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea, starring James Mason and Kirk Douglas.
This is the version of the story that most people "know." The story follows the basics of Verne, while adding a battle against cannibals and the secret base of Vulcania, which is attacked by warships, after Ned Land sends out messages in bottle, with its location and identifies it as the base from which Nemo has attacked their ships. Mason is fantastic as Nemo, stern and harsh, yet still sympathetic, as someone who explores the world beneath the sea and rejects the militarism of the world. Peter Lorre is the man caught between Prof Aronnax's scientific curiosity and Ned Land's greed, with his own desire to return home. Paul Lukas is the scientist who is seduced by Nemo's wonders, but ultimately rejects his ideology and use of terror. Kirk Douglas has a ball as the square jawed (and square-headed) Ned Land, who wants treasure and freedom, and cares little for Nemo's idealism.
The film gives us the marvelous scene of Nemo playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the Nautilus' pipe organ, a scene copied and parodied in many films (including with Herbert Lom, a future Nemo, as Chief Inspector Dreyfus, in The Pink Panther Strikes Again).
The design of the Nautilus became the definitive and has been copied for cover illustrations, altered just enough to avoid lawsuits from Disney, who trademarked the desing.
Disney built a Nautilus ride for his parks; though the vessel never actually submerges
The film is noted for the epic battle with a giant squid (adapted from the novel) and then the climax at Vulcania, as Nemo blows up the island, rather than let the Western powers take it and its secrets.
Other Nemo adaptations and original adventures would appear. Direct adaptations would follow in 1991, with Ben cross as Nemo in one, and Michael Caine in another.
In 1969, the British production Captain Nemo and the Underwater City premiered, distributed by MGM and starring Robert Ryan, as Nemo.
The film stars Ryan, Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) and Luciana Paluzzi (Thunderball). The plot has The Nautilus ram a ship and pick up survivors, with Nemo taking them to his underwater city, Templemer (pronounced Temple Meer), where they are to remain, as prisoners, so as not to reveal his secrets. The underwater city is an amazing, vast metropolis, with gold, a by-product of the process to create oxygen (though that is ridiculous, as simple electrolysis can separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of water). Connors is an American Senator who learns to pilot the Nautilus II and plots an escape in it. There is a sequence involving a battle with a giant manta ray, before they make their escape attempt.
The film is nowhere near the classic of the Disney version, though it apes it in several areas. Robert Ryan is too subdued to be interesting as Nemo and Chuck Connors always delivered his lines through gritted teeth. The basic plot is a copy of Disney, with the city replacing the wonders of the Nautilus. However, it has an excellent production design, which fills the screen with an advanced world, with Victorian stylings, making for a marvelous steampunk look (though Nemo is futurist speculation, not nostalgic fantasy, which defines "steampunk"). In that, it finds its own way. It's a decent, if unspectacular film and can be had via the Warner Archives. The film was originally an idea from Roger Corman that never came to fruition, that was dusted off and reworked into this version
In 1978, a tv pilot movie, The Return of Captain Nemo (aka The Amazing Captain Nemo)was broadcast, starring Jose Ferrer as a more heroic Nemo...
The film also stars Mel Ferrer (no relation), Burgess Meredith, Linda Day George, Horst Buchholz, and Burr DeBenning. The Nautilus is discovered in the Pacific, during Naval exercises and Nemo is discovered in a cryogenic chamber. He is revived and aids the US government in battling a mad scientist, played by Meredith (minus his Penguin tuxedo) The film was a pilot for a proposed tv series, from Irwin Allen, who hoped to duplicate Voyage Beneath the Sea, which was heavily inspired (ripped-off) from the Verne novel. It was broadcast as a 3-part miniseries, then re-edited as a theatrical motion picture. It succeeded in neither version and pretty much ended Allen's work in television. Allen had another underwater pilot, ity Beneath the Sea, which featured an underwater habitat that is sabotaged.
The film is very "television" and very Allen. Robert Bloch contributed to part of it; but, as was usual with Allen, meddling with scripts dumbed down the work. Effects are rather cheap looking and sets are relatively minimal, though the cast does what they can with it. It's entertaining enough for rainy day viewing. It's also available from Warner Archives.
Verne's sequel, The Mysterious Island, has also been frequently adapted. The 1916 20,000 Leagues is a mixture of the stories from both novels. An original adaptation was mounted in 1929, which was a partial talkie, done in Technicolor, with Lionel Barrymore as Prince Dakkar (before he was sparring with George Bailey). It departs completely from the novel, as Dakkar rules the island of Hetvia and develops a submarine.
The Russkies would produce the next one, in 1941, which follows the novel relatively closely.
In 1951, Columbia produced a movie serial version, directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett, with Richard Crane as the Union captain and Leonard Penn as Nemo. For a movie serial, it was surprisingly faithful to the novel.
The version that most people have seen is the 1961 film, from producer Charles H Schneer, featuring the effects of Ray Harryhausen...
The film starts out following Verne, then departs heavily as the castaways discover giant animals on the island. After a series of encounters with everything from giant crabs to bees, they meet the mysterious Captain Nemo, who is living on the wrecked Nautilus. His genetic experiments are the source of the giant animals (swiped from HG Wells' Food of the Gods). He aids them in sinking a pirate ship, then tells them of an impending eruption of the island's volcano. Nemo develops a way to raise the ship and teaches the castaways to use his technology. Eventually, they escape, with Nemo sacrificing himself and the Nautilus.
Nemo is played by herbert Lom and is the best part of the film, though it is a fine adventure story and the Superdynamation effects look pretty good, for the time. It was a favorite of Boomers and one of Harryhausen's classic films. Modern audiences might find the effects primitive and some of the acting is a bit over-the-top; but, it holds up pretty well. For me, the story doesn't really pick up until Nemo enters, which is at the latter stages of the film.
In 1973, a miniseries was produced in Europe and shown on various television networks, and re-edited as a 90+ minute feature, starring Omar Sharif.
Sharif stars as Nemo and the mini-series/film is very faithful to Verne, though suffers a bit in budget. The design of the Nautilus is much closer to the original descriptions and illustrations.
In 2005, Patrick Stewart starred in a version, VERY loosely based on Verne, while a canadian tv series lasted one season, in 1995. In 2010, another version appeared on Syfy, with Mark Shepard and his father, Morgan Shepard (father as elder Nemo, son as younger Nemo). In 2012, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, used the title and little else, much like the previous Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Verne wrote of other science pirates, such as Ker Karraje, in Facing the Flag (Nemo without scruples) and Robur the Conqueror (from Clipper of the Clouds aka Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World). We will visit Robur later, when I look at the Vincent Price Master of the World.
Finally, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen featured Naseeruddin Shah as a decidedly Indian Nemo..
The Nautilus failed to captures O'Neill's terrific design or even Verne's original...
Nemo also got a roadster, with some nice detailing...
Nemo was one of the better elements of the film and Shah was one of the few actors to acquit himself well. Sadly, the film ended up such a disjointed mess that can only disappoint.
Next, we finish off the League, with a look at Mina Murray (formerly Harker) and the Dracula films. As mina has a relatively small role in most adaptations, we will mostly focus on the more interesting renditions of Stoker, from Bela Lugosi, to Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, and Gary Oldman. We will also explore vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, as seen in Peter Cushing and later, Hugh Jackman.
If you're not already familiar with it, I'd highly recommend checking out the 1931 Mexican parallel production of Dracula while you're doing Lugosi's. It's been a standard extra on the DVDs for a while, and it's a very good movie itself.
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 27, 2020 23:37:50 GMT -5
Good evening. Enter freely and of your own will. Join us as we delve into the cinematic adventures of Count Dracula and a few other bloodsuckers (vampires, not lawyers). Let's start at the beginning.
Bram Stoker was an Irishman, who was business manager of the Lyceum Theater. He mad e money on the side writing sensational novels, with Dracula becoming his most noted. It wasn't the first literary work about a vampire, though.Goethe published The Bride of Corinth, in 1797, John Polidori wrote The Vampyre in 1819, Sheridan Le Fanu wrote Carmilla in 1871, and there was the penny dreadful, Varney the Vampire. Stoker, however, captured the public imagination with his tale of the Transylvanian count who relocates to England.
Young solicitor Jonathan Harker travels to the carpathian mountains to meet with the count, to help with a real estate transaction. he ends up a prisoner in the count's castle, the boy-toy of three vampire sisters. Drac heads west, via ship, kills all of the crew and escapes the wreck of the ship, off the coast of Whitby. He then takes up residence nearby. Lucy Westenra, a rather flighty woman who has been stringing along 3 suitors finally picks one, shutting out Dr Jon Seward and Quincy Morris, in favor of Arthur Holmwood, who is the son of Lord Godalming. Lucy starts acting weird, has blood drained from her, and starts sleepwalking. Seward contacts an old teacher, Abraham Van Helsing, to consult. he gives her transfusions, puts up garlic and other preventatives; but, something always gums up the works. Seward has a patient at an insane asylum, Renfield, who eats bugs and serves the count. Lucy dies and is buried, though a servant steals a crucifix, left on the body, by Van Helsing. The boys and Van Helsing try to hunt down Drac, who is always one step ahead. Drac gets control of Mina Murray, Lucy's friend and fiance of Jonathan Harker. Johnny escaped the three Morticia wannabes and marries Mina, but she is fooling around with the count, who shares his blood with her (metaphor!)..Lucy rises from the dead and gets staked and beheaded and Drac fights the gang until he is killed and Mina is freed. Through the battles, Mina gather intel for the boys, finding clues that lead to Drac's defeat, while fighting his control.
Stoker almost immediately wrote a stage version to secure copyright on all adaptations of the novel for the stage. Later versions would be created, including a 1924 version, by Hamilton Deane. this version would be updated in 1927, for the American stage. A New York performance would star Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan (as Van Helsing), who would reprise the role in 1931, for Universal Studios, which we will get to, in a minute.
The first film version was done in 1921, in Hungary; but, the most noted early version was a knock off, directed by FW Murnau, the great German film expressionist, under the name Nosferatu.
The production came from Prana films, a new company, which hoped to produce films with occult and horror themes. The partners set out to adapt Stoker's novel, but didn't have the rights to do so. They tried to cover themselves by changing the names of the characters. Dracula becomes Count Orlok, while Harker becomes Thomas Hutter, Mina is Elizabeth Hutter, and Van Helsing becomes Prof Bulwer. The story mostly plays out as in Dracula, with few changes, other than condensing characters.
The film is noted for the performance and ghastly appearance of actor Max Schreck, as Count Orlok. He has a pointed head, long tapered ears, pointed teeth, long fingernails and a gaunt appearance. It is likened to a rat or bat, but also matches caricatures of Jews, of the period and has been cited as an anti-semitic metaphor. Orlok does not turn other into vampires, but just kills them. The townspeople fear him and consider him a plague and the local innkeeper tries to stop Hutter from going to the castle. He is ultimately defeated who the sun shines the morning rays on him and he burns up.
Frances Stoker, Bram's widow launched a suit against the company; but it went bankrupt and she only got legal fees back and blocked a few prints of it. Others still got out and she eventually gave up trying to stop them. The film is considered a silent masterpiece and one of the important works of the German Expressionist movement, which included Murnau and Fritz Lang (more on him in a future entry). This version would eventually inspire the modern film, Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe as Schreck, and John Malkovich as Murnau, in a sort of making of, that adds the conceit that Schreck is an actual vampire, who has been promised the lead actress to devour, at the end of filmmaking. It's a wonderful twist on a historical drama, which plays at being a black comedy, as well as a horror film and a film history. Dafoe has great fun as Schreck.
Getting back to Drac, we come to the big one, the 1931 Universal horror film, Dracula, directed by Tod Browning.
This is the version that became definitive and forever linked to the character, in most minds. It is the first sound Dracula, though it is also early enough that it has a very "stagey" feel. As in the American stage version, Harker is replaced by Renfield and Lucy's suitors are pared down to Seward. Mina is still a major part of the story.
Lugosi wasn't being considered for the part, by Universal, despite good reviews of his New York performance. However, he was appearing in Los Angeles in the play and lobbied hard for the part, and took a low salary to play it, which probably swayed the studio more than his acting talent.
The film was noted for special effects, which enhanced the horrific images, though there are long periods of silence, as this is a transitional eriod between silent film and the talkies. Also, limited staging adds to the theatrical feel, vs what would become the standard for cinema.
The film was a smash and Lugosi would eventually find himself trapped as the Count, forever typecast. Also, hsi willingness to work cheap left him often working for lower budget films, such as Republic serials, Bowery Boys films; and, ultimately, Ed Wood. He did get a bit of an elevation when he took over as the Frankenstein Monster, after Karloff had enough; but always the cheaper option. He at least got to have a bit of fun with Abbott & Costello..
Dracula's popularity led to sequels and Drac got a son and a daughter (Son of Dracula, Daughter of Dracula), a couple of houses (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula), the aforementioned crossover with Bud and Lou and a lot of rip-offs and spoofs. We got neighbors of Dracula, his accountant, the kid who mows his lawn, and everything but his ex-wife (or so it felt.
At the same time Browning was filming his Dracula, a Spanish language productions was shot on the same sets, with a different cast. This was common practice in the film world and was even done in Europe, where Fritz Lang;s testament of Dr Mabuse was shot in both German and French. The Spanish version had the advantage of watching Browning's dailies and learning from them, taking it upon themselves to improve things, like camera angles and lighting. It is generally considered superior to the English version and was thought lost, until a copy turned up in 1970 and was restored.
You can find some clips and comparisons on Youtube and the version appears in some Universal collections, including the 2004 Legacy Collection, the 2006 75th Anniversary collection and the Universal Monsters Essential Collection on blu-ray.
We next switch to the other side of the Pond and Hammer, who created their own masterpiece, in 1958, Dracula (released as The Horror of Dracula, in the US, to avoid confusion and trademark problems), with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee forever installed as the vampire)
This version has Van Helsing follow after Jonathan Harker, eventually finding him in Dracula's coffin and staking him. he then aids Arthur Holmwood deal with Dracula's attention on wife Mina and sister-in-law Lucy. This version would cement Hammer as the kings of horror, rivaling Universal for cinema bragging rights. Cushing had already essayed Dr Frankenstein, in the Curse f Frankenstein, whee Lee was the monster. Frankenstein showed the doctors descent into madness, with his obsession to create life. Dracula has Cushing as the noble crusader, trying to destroy the vampire monster. The film is noted for its ending, where Lee appears to dissolve into dust, as well as it's rather more violent tone. Hammer wasn't as wild as it would become; but, it was wilder than the more staid Universal, though it appeared a generation later.
Hammer would revive Dracula multiple times. The first sequel, The Brides of Dracula, does not even feature the Count (or Lee) and, instead, has a disciple, Baron Meinster. Cushing returns as Van Helsing. Lee would return in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, but Cushing did not (he is seen in reused footage of Dracula's death). Lee has no dialogue, apart from hisses. he claimed he refused to say the lines; the writer claimed he didn't give him any. This is followed by Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, and Scars of Dracula (with Dr Who, Patrick Troughton and Dennis Waterman, of The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks). All of these have moments; but the formula was wearing kind of thin. Hammer finally infused some new blood, so to speak, with Dracula AD 1972.
The film starts out in 1872, as Van Helsing and Dracula battle on a runaway coach, which crashes. Dracula is partially impaled on a wheel spoke and Van Helsing finishes the job. A disciple of the count (Christopher Neame) collects the remains of Dracula and buries it next to Van Helsing's grave. In 1972, we meet Johnny Alucard, a descendant of the disciple, who falls in with a group of hippies and seduces them into taking part in Satanic rituals, to raise Dracula from the dead. When one of the women is killed (Caroline Munro), the police investigate and Inspector Murray consults with a Van Helsing, descendant of Abraham. He notes the similarities to Dracula and goes hunting for Alucard and his master.
Stephanie Beacham is Jennifer, the female lead, who will be the ultimate sacrifice for the Count. Neame is great as Alucard, the charismatic and flamboyant Svengali who lures the hippies into his conspiracy. The film makes great use of the counter-culture and the modern hedonism to give a seamy quality to this Dracula, making it a bit of a moral tale, as well as a horror update. The time juxtaposition breathes fresh life into this, as does the return of Cushing. Sadly, it didn't return the series to quality, for long. Hammer followed with The Satanic Rites of Dracula, with Cushing and Lee, as well as Joanna Lumley. Inspector Murray also reappears, which is how Van Helsing is brought into things. It also tries to mix in some sci-fy and spy thriller stuff; but it was the end of Lee's run as Dracula.
Hammer did other vampire films, including a trilogy based on Carmilla: The Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire, and Twins of Evil. These were more explicit than the Lee films, with some lesbian exploitation scenes for which they became noted. The other notable Hammer vampire film is Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter, which I will cover later, as it deserves its own discussion.
We jump ahead a few years to 1979, when Universal decided to revisit Dracula, in a new version, starring Frank Langella...
This production traded on the increased interest in horror films, following such movies as The Exorcist and The Omen. As such, it has a similar pacing, though it still draws on it roots in the source material, while adding a heavy dose of the Hammer flavor for the sexual metaphors. In fact, the film was somewhat notorious for its more overtly sexual take on the tale. Langellas had already played the dashing Zorro, on tv and he is similarly romantic as the Count, though just as chilling in his evil. Laurence Olivier plays Van Helsing The film performed modestly, though it has gained a reputation since, particularly for the erotic undercurrents and the special effects, including the eerie sight of Dracula climbing down walls and his transformations into a wolf.
At the same time, Werner Herzog had released his remake of the Murnau classic, with Klaus Kinski as the vampire Dracula. It was started the day Dracula entered the public domain, allowing the use of the original character names, though the plot of Murnau's version. The film is noted for its depiction of Dracula's loneliness, adding sympathetic layers to the vampire, also present in the Langella versions.
One notable twist to things also came out in 1979: Love at First Bite.
George Hamilton stars as a rather tanned vampire, Susan St James is Cindy Sondheim, the love interest, Arte Johnson as Renfield, and Richard Benjamin as Jeffrey Rosenberg, a Jewish descendent of Abraham Van Helsing (and Cindy's psychologist), with Dick Shawn and Sherman Hemsley and Isabella Sanford (George & Weezie). The film is pretty dumb, but it is a hoot and a lot of fun. the best line is still...
The film spoofs disco, psychotherapy, modern angst, the Dracula formula, and 70s pop culture. It was a big hit, helping kin of revive Hamilton's somewhat flagging career and leading to his Zorro spoof. It was a favorite on cable, for years.
Meanwhile, on tv, Kenneth Johnston, of Bionic and Hulk fame, launched a tv series, called Cliffhanger. the premise was to recreate the thrills of the old serials and it was an anthology of three segments: The Secret Empire (a remake of the Gene Autry sci-fi serial The Phantom Empire, about an underground civilization), Stop Susan Williams (Susan Anton as a journalist investigating a conspiracy to cause some massive upheaval in society) and The Curse of Dracula, about Dracula in modern San Francisco. That was the true centerpiece and the only segment to tell its complete story, as the final episode of the series, which featured the climaxes of the other two portions, never aired. Dracula masquerades as a professor of European history and seduces the partner of the modern Van Helsing, who tries to go undercover. It had a nice romantic element to go along with the horror portion. The chapters were later edited into a film version, which made the rounds of cable.
Finally, we come to Francis Ford Coppola and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Winona Ryder brought the script to Coppola and he had Jim Steranko create conceptual drawings, while Mike Mignola also worked on production art. Gary Oldman stars as Dracula, with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder as the Harkers and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. The film features a prologue that makes Dracula Vlad Tepes, despite that not being the case in Stoker's novel. The title Dracul denoted a knight of the Order of the Dragon ,and Vlad was one. The prologue has Vlad dressed in a stylized dragon armor, with supernatural powers, as he battles the Turk invaders. His wife commits suicide and her soul is damned to Hell. Dracula renounces God and the Church, and turns to the forces of Darkness to try to revive her, leading to his vampirism.
Quite frankly, I don't care much for this film, though it did quite well and has many fans. Apart from Oldman and Hopkins, the performances range from okay to awful (Reeves, with the worst English accent since Dick Van Dyke). The story drags through large parts and mostly gets by on the effects work and the strength of Oldman's stylized performance. It also departs from Stoker's lore by having Dracula appear in daylight, wearing sunglasses. Mina Harker is the reincarnation (it appears) of Dracula's wife, which sends him after her.
As far as I am concerned, you can keep this version. I'll take Hammer and Langella over this, any day.
I would be remiss to leave out Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, though I have never seen it. It adapts one of her various erotic vampire stories, doing better job than Queen of the Damned and a damned sight better than Exit to Eden, which proved neither funny nor edgy. Surprised they haven't rushed her sleeping Beauty kinky novels to screen, after the 50 Shades atrocities (much like the books got new covers that more closely mirrored the 50 Shades toilet paper dispensers....books.
Alan Moore put Mina Murray (who is divorced from Jonathan Harker) in the League, with some vampiric qualities and heavy scarring around her neck, from Dracula. They resemble the marks of rat teeth, with a more saw-like edge. She is the leader of the group and develops a sexual relationship with Allan Quatermain. For the film version, she is played as far more vampiric, by Peta Wilson, in a rather dull performance (not that she had much to work with).
So, that ends our look at films related to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Now, we shift gears to look at the closest thing, so far, to a Sgt Rock film, as we delve into Sam Fuller's dramatization of his experiences in World War 2, in The Big Red One.