25 GUESSES

[He] was the opposite of what appeared on the screen. He was very urbane, very well read, very well educated, soft-spoken, a real English gentleman. –Robert Wise, Academy Award-winning movie director

Do you think you have a good idea who the gentleman is who is the subject of that quote? Although you may find it hard to believe, it ain’t yurs truly. The fact is that mistermuse (despite qualifying in every other respect, including gentleman) does not happen to be English. Also, although a handsome devil, mistermuse is not a movie star. But that was a very logical (if mistaken) assumption on your part, so I will give you 24 more guesses.

Here’s a hint. Since 20 November, when last we met (“NOVEMBER 20 POEMS ARE CHILD’S PLAY”), someone’s birthday has come and gone who not only meets the above criteria, but whose film persona might have made an interesting subject for one of those English nursery rhymes, such as “Who Killed Cock Robin?” or “Jack the Ripper and Jill.”

Time’s up. The gentleman in question is none other than that horror-able actor famous for his roles in such pictures as FRANKENSTEIN (1931), BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935),  and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939): Boris Karloff (born London, Nov. 23, 1887). Karloff also starred in another of my favorite films of that genre, THE BODY SNATCHER (1945), which was directed by the above-quoted Robert Wise.

What made those films a cut above the average horror movie? Among other things, atmosphere — black and white and gray atmosphere — not necessarily the stuff that screams are made of, but with setting, mood, memorable characters, imagination of story….all the things that, if lacking, no amount of gore and technology can bring to life.

Here are some interesting facts about Karloff you may not have known:
His real name was William Henry Pratt.
He was the youngest of nine children.
As a young boy, he stuttered and had a lisp.
He married five times and had one child, Sara (born as SON OF FRANKENSTEIN was being filmed). You’ll find a message from her on the official Boris Karloff web site:
http://www.karloff.com/

Let us end with an interview of the man himself:

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14 comments on “25 GUESSES

  1. scifihammy says:

    What a treat! Thank you.
    I love these old horror movies. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mistermuse says:

    I love them too – all the more so because they were filmed in black and white. After seeing them in b & w, it would be a sacrilege to colorize them!

    Like

  3. arekhill1 says:

    For my money, the apex of b&w horror is Night of the Living Dead, which was filmed long after the color era began. Scared the waste right out of me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      I haven’t seen Night of the Living Dead (1968), but film critic Leonard Maltin rates it highly and calls it “the touchstone modern horror film” (not to be confused with the 1990 Technicolor remake of the same name but lower rating).

      Like

  4. linnetmoss says:

    Indeed Mr. Karloff was a very talented actor! I enjoyed “Frankenstein” even though horror is not my cup of tea…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mistermuse says:

    I’m not a big horror movie fan in general, but I do like certain ones, including Karloff’s three Frankenstein films, The Body Snatcher (1945), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). I also like certain parody and campy horror films, such as Young Frankenstein and Swamp Thing. I don’t like horror just for the sake of horror.

    Like

  6. Don Frankel says:

    I actually knew the answer to this right away. Just stuff filled away in my muddled brain. The more fascinating story to me, is the story of how Mary Shelly wrote the novel Frankenstein.

    Like

  7. mistermuse says:

    Don, I’m not surprised that you knew this – I thought that if anybody would, it would be you. As for Mary Shelley, I recall coming across that story some time ago. I’d need to refresh my creaky memory as to the details, but I remember it made fascinating reading.

    Like

  8. Jane says:

    I spent many late nights on my own as a young child watching old black and white movies. They were terrifying but oh so addictive! I loved the movie Frankenstein and also Shelley’s novel. Thanks for sharing this video. What a gem. The story certainly does have a universal appeal, as the actor says.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mistermuse says:

    Jane, thank you for your incisive comment; if evidence were demanded of the truth of Robert Wise’s description of the actor in the opening quote, that video is all that is needed. Such thoughtful responses – especially the “universal appeal” one you cite.

    Like

  10. mistermuse says:

    You are most welcome!

    Like

  11. inesephoto says:

    Wonderful post, and I enjoyed the interview. Old horror movies had class.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mistermuse says:

    Thank you. “Old horror movies had class” — I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Like

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