Edith Wharton: Harmonic Pretense

DATELINE: America’s Great Woman Writer

edith & dogs

Wharton also Wrote about Ghostly Dogs!

Like Henry James, one of the great American writers is a person who lived too long in foreign places.

Edith Wharton is presented in a documentary called The Sense of Harmony, which presents in somewhat disjointed form, her odd life. She was from the New York self-ordained aristocracy, socializing with a world alien from the real America of the 19th century. She is certainly at the polar opposite of Calamity Jane.

Wharton crossed the Atlantic on steamship 66 times in her life. Though she never gave up her American citizenship, and her greatest fictions were set in the United States, she lived mostly abroad in France.

You likely know her from the stories made into movies over decades:  Ethan Frome, Age of Innocence, The Old Maid, House of Mirth, all presenting scandal under the veneer of well-appointed homes.

Indeed, she began writing with an architect about interior design of houses. Though her novels sold and made money, she really had no need of it—except to live the way she wanted.

There was only a hint of scandal in her own life, though she often wrote about its corrosive secrets. She divorced and had one affair with a protégé of Henry James.

She also was the first woman to go to the front at Verdun in World War I and write about it. France considered her a war hero for tireless volunteering to help refugees and children.

Wharton famously has a haunted mansion in Lenox, Massachusetts, where she spent surprisingly little time. Perhaps ghosts frightened her, though she wrote many short stories about the paranormal. Her most famous tale, “Roman Fever,” again focused on upper-crust society.

She loved a good tale, well-told, and was planning a short story on a horror anecdote about the Titanic she had learned, but never actually finished. You might be driven to check out her less well-known tales from watching this documentary.

 

 

 

 

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Unforgettable Vikings

DATELINE: Frolic in the Fjord

Viking Liking Sons of a Black Ram!

What a cast! Liking a Viking!

Forget the new-fangled cable TV series. Go back to the 1958 movie with Kirk Douglas as the Viking raider. If you have never heard the Mario Nascimbene theme, you are in for a treat—as it will stay in your head forever as the theme of Viking warriors.

If you have never seen The Vikings, prepare yourself.

This movie featured an all-star cast in bravura, over-the-top performances. Kirk Douglas and his costar Tony Curtis would return in Spartacus two years later and essentially play the same roles: Brothers under the tunic.

Here, Ernest Borgnine is the rapacious and fierce Viking king and father to Kirk (and to Tony, though no one in the movie ever learns this bit of dizzying plot complication). We are even more amused to learn that Borgnine was actually younger than the man who played his son!

Fresh off his Oscar for Marty, Ernie Borgnine is preparing to play McHale for his TV series by jumping off longboats. He calls Tony Curtis the son of a black ram, without realizing he was self-incriminating.

Throw in juicy actors like Frank Thring as an evil English king usurper (one in a line of magnificent villains—from Pontius Pilate in Ben Hur and King Herod in King of Kings). There is stalwart James Donald as the traitor to England and friend to the Vikings, and Alexander Knox as the suffering priest, with Edric Connor as Tony Curtis’s best friend.

Everyone shines. Director Richard Fleisher manages Viking chaos deftly.

Kirk Douglas plays nearly the entire film with one eye yanked out by a falcon (he wears a white contact lens).  It makes him even more frightful and plays the contrast to good Tony Curtis (whose wife Janet Leigh is the young woman every Viking wants.

This is one of those delicious fun movies you cannot believe they cannot make anymore. When the principals tried to do Spartacus, it became more message and less fun.

Every scene is exquisite in its outrageous melodrama, including amputations, eye-gouges, and a jump into a wolf pack to be chewed up. You can’t beat this stuff with special effects or computer-generated fakery.

With pure Hollywood magic, you have a truly atmospheric tale of 1000 years ago—filmed in magnificent fjords and drafty castles. The dangerous sword-fight atop the castle ramparts at the end will give you vertigo.

We lost track of how many times we heard that Nascimbene tune in various motifs. You will never forget it.

Trump’s Handiwork in Palm Beach

DATELINE: Massage is the Medium

Yang & Trump Party Another Happy Ending!

A funny thing happened on the way to the Trump Super Bowl party. Another funny thing happened at the Palm Beach massage parlor. We don’t mean funny in a humorous sense. It is distinctly odd.

Now it seems that Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, could not attend the Trump Super Bowl party because he actually was at the game, as part of putting the sixth championship below his belt.

Cindy Yang attended Trump’s shindig where she showed him a good time. Yank, oops, Yang founded the massage parlor game in Palm Beach, a kidney stone’s throw from Mar-a-Lago.

Joining Mr. Trump at his party was the one-time creator of the self-same parlor where Mr. Kraft was handed his arrested development warrant. You guessed it! Cindy Yank has the pull for an invitation.

You have got to hand it to Trump and Kraft. They know how to grab headlines. When you have billions, you can do fairly much whatever you want. The problem is that these handsome seniors have enemies. Yes, there are patrons of the law who blanch at women doing sex work for money.

We eagerly await the visit of Kraft to the White House where he will hand-off a MAGA jersey to President like it’s a Handi-wipe who will hand-out fast-food with and without pickles.

Trump likely feels this massage perk is owed to the super-rich who are now political kingpins, making immigration policy that allows Chinese women to be held prisoner, not in a fortune cookie factory where they might send out a message, but in a massage parlor where the medium is the massage.

The party-goer who owned the massage parlor is a big donor to Trump. She gives freely and often. The little lady deserves a big hand, but we aren’t sure if Trump or Kraft can afford to pick up the tab.

Septuagenarians are worse off than sexagenarians.

If you think there is something funny going on here in Palm Beach, we think the police agree and have a hands-on policy when it comes to a handshake and a smile.

If you think Congressional committees will put their paws on this one, you will have another Jussie Smollett moment on your hands.

Sex and politics are never strange bedfellows. Just let the Stormy days pass—you will have a big hand for the little lady.

Funny like a toothache.

 

 

Oak Island Die Hard and Dye Harder

DATELINE: Approach/Avoidance

95-years Amazing Dan Blankenship!

We are at episode 15 of the sixth season with the Curse of Oak Island, and we are still going strong. Each season is longer, and our patience is growing thinner.

Shake, rattle, and rolling, the Money Pit sink hole will be stabilized, presumably, and filled in to be able to continue boring down.

However, this week’s big info is that lidar off Oak Island may have discovered some entrances or openings under the ocean. The gang, including Alex Lagina and mysteriously returned Peter Fornetti, join Marty to hear the findings. That thread was quickly dropped to begin another dye job.

Several years ago, the brainstorm was to use green dye to see if there were drains leading to the treasure vault. Green did not mix well with water, making it impossible to see.

This time the hunters will use red dye (not sure if it’s #2, or the blend often used in Rick Lagina’s hair).

Incompetence was again blamed on the island curse when hoses tangled as water was sent into bore holes with the red dye.

To everyone’s pleasant surprise, 95-year old Dan Blankenship drove up in his golf cart to take a look at the activity. When he tried this stuff, he did it on a shoestring (figuratively). Now there are drones that has to amaze him as fly-over inspections monitor the island for red dye.

However, it is old Gary Drayton who spots a rusty color water appearing out of nowhere. Marty Lagina wants to be the kibosh, but chemical testing of the colored water indicates the dye has seeped to Smith’s Cove, proving there is a drain system to booby trap the treasure vault.

Small victories set up the final few weeks of season six.

 

A Goodie UFO Doc from Timothy Good

DATELINE:  Kennedy & Nixon & UFOs

alien

Timothy Good is a retired British musician who has made a name for himself as a UFO researcher and prolific author (Above Top Secret).

The MUFON group produced a film of one of his lectures a few years ago called UFOs and Military Intelligence.

Like many of these filmed lectures before a hand-selected audience, they are not much cinematically. This one does have the advantage of many cuts to images and film clips as Good makes many of the usual points.

He did provide a bit of info we had never heard before:  In 1962, about a year before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy requested and received permission to view dead alien bodies collected from some unspecified crash site.

Good said the viewing occurred in Tyndall AFB, but that might be disinformation. Kennedy often went to Palm Beach where his family had a compound.

It would be far more likely he made one of his frequent trips to Homestead AFB. He did so shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis under the guise of viewing new weapons.

Indeed, President Richard Nixon reportedly took his pal, UFO fan and comedian actor Jackie Gleason to view alien bodies in “coke freezers,” as Gleason reported privately a decade later.

Gleason also said Nixon escaped his Secret Service protectors and drove them in a private car to the site. Nixon did often elude his secret service agents, and Homestead was about an hour drive from Key Biscayne and Lauderhill, Florida, where Gleason lived.

The drive to Tyndall was 8 hours and 600 miles. It is likely they went to Homestead, if the report is accurate, and it is likely the Air Force would have kept the frozen alien bodies in the same place between 1962 and February of 1973, when Nixon and Gleason visited.

In fact, nowadays, a fleet of presidential jets is kept at Homestead in case of nuclear attack, at the discretion of the President.

Homestead AFB is about an hour’s drive from Mar-a-Lago, the winter home of you-know-who. Whether Trump has been there is not known.

Timothy Good is now unable or unwilling to respond to email or letters (age being a factor), to see what more he can tell about the Kennedy visit in 1962.

Some theorists insist Kennedy’s assassination, one year later, was due to his attempts to reveal secret UFO files.

 

 

Nothing Like Four Dames

DATELINE:  Great Actresses Reminisce.

Grand DamesGrandstanding with the Grand Dames

If you like good conversation with witty old ladies over tea and champagne, you may find Tea with the Dames quite your cuppa hot stuff if you enjoy BBC America.

The film is all too short but packed with anecdotes, and you are left with a sense you know these complex, often difficult actresses.

Dame Joan is now legally blind and unable to work, but the women go back sixty years in friendship. The other three are still quite active on screen.

They are literally four Dames:  English titles for accomplishments of women, an equivalent of knighthood. Dame Joan Plowright, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, and Dame Eileen Atkins, are familiar to anyone who likes good acting. Now you can enjoy their bawdy and chippy chitchat.

The group is gathered at the home of Joan Plowright, which she shared with her husband Laurence Olivier. This is not some static sit-down interview: the women wander around the house, couple off on occasion, and the entire matter is interspersed with rare clips of their early performances.

They do tend to pile on Laurence Olivier, the god their generation of actors with funny stories. At one point when they are winding down, Dame Maggie notes to the director, “Did they tell you how old we are?”

What a thing of beauty and joy to behold for those who have a sense of history and grandeur. For these old ladies represent an age gone by. They were classically trained and paid their dues.

Toward the end we see clips of them receiving so many accolades and awards, including the honor of being made a Dame by Prince Charles or Queen Elizabeth.

Unusual and delightful.

Demise of TV Satire?

DATELINE:  Trump’s Attack on Humor

trumpet the New Archie Bunker?

President Trump wants to shut down Saturday Night Live because it is an “Enemy of the People.”

In his view, no views should be expressed on TV unless they are kind, balanced, and fair to him.

Of course, television has a long history of unpopular, brutal satire. The shows include That Was the Week That Was. TWTWTW, as it was known, or TW3 in some circles, was half-an hour of unremitting political jokes that skewed Republican Barry Goldwater during 1964. It was on in prime-time and was pre-empted every week, almost, by paid TV commercials from the GOP. They eventually saw it canceled.

The other shocker was The Smothers Brothers Hour, on Sunday nights that was sixty minutes of unremitting anti-Nixon, anti-Watergate cronies in the Roger Stone archetype.

It was so virulently anti-Nixon and his dirty-tricks-team that Nixon put it on the Enemies List and had his influential friends at the network cancel the show.

All in the Family started out as a brutal satire of crypto-Nazi bigotry in the Queens suburbs of New York. It was enormously popular during the 1970s, but its satiric bite was lessened sharply when Archie Bunker, the bigot, became a lovable American hero. Embraced as a delightful example of American parochialism, he flourished, a fan favorite of conservative America.

During the same years came SNL.  It was out of prime time, even reveling in the idea with the Not Ready for Prime Time players, a group of future movie stars who did satiric barbs.

SNL still lives, over forty years later, and has become nastier in its attacks on Trump, which incenses the President. He wants it investigated and stopped.

If there had been a radio show in Germany in the 1930s, Hitler would have had it raided and had its comedians sent to a concentration camp. Indeed, Jack Benny made a comedy movie about such an idea in his greatest film called To Be or Not To Be. ICE may yet raid SNL.

So Trump is in fine company as he awaits impeachment and prison for his dubious unconstitutional, uneducated, and anti-satire demands to close down freedom of speech.

Old Dark House Mates & Inmates

DATELINE: Over-rated Classic

empty house Ate for Dinner .

Your first reaction to this chestnut of horror comedy is shock at the jaw-dropping cast.

Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, and Ernest Thesiger!  You have a round-robin of possible villains and victims. The problem is that they are given nothing significant to perform. Even Karloff uses makeup to look menacing, but his dumb waiter is left hanging.

Yeah, it was a dark and stormy night, but that ain’t enough.

James Whale gathered quite a retinue of talent and gave them an empty script in a drafty house.

Billed as an atmospheric thriller comedy, that’s about all this J.B. Priestly story is. With a marvelous cast, and Whale’s shadows and tricks, like a fun house mirror, the plot is ridiculous, throwing a bunch of ingrates caught in a bad torrential rain into a private household as if it’s a flea-bag hotel. T’aint funny.

Here they find their hosts eccentric (well, Horace Femm is Ernest Thesiger, which says it all) and his odd-ball bully sister.

Charles Laughter as Sir William shows up too with a show biz girlfriend, and he is given little to do. Melvyn Douglas is his trademark self, complete with pipe, and Boris Karloff still is given no dialogue yet again in one of his movies. He just looks menacing as Morgan, the scar-faced butler.

We wanted so much for this film to give us a thrill and become a marvel, but we found it disappointing to the ultimate degree—and in no way does it hold up to the other horror tales of the Universal series. This alleged classic is a let-down from the get-go.

 

Invisible Wells Classic

DATELINE: Whale of a Film

Rains

When James Whale chose to do his next amusing gothic horror, it turned out to be H.G. Wells’ story about a mad scientist who becomes invisible. It has now become a trite metaphor, but this is the original—and therein hangs some fascination. The Invisible Man came out in 1933.

To play a man who won’t be seen for most of the film, Whale chose Claude Rains whose voice manages to carry his performance. And Jack Pierce’s makeup is the notion of a wig, fake nose, dark glasses, and a bandaged mummy wrap to hide the lack of face.

Rains would go on to become one of the most familiar of second-banana stars—stealing movies like Casablanca in every scene they gave him.

For a film made in the early 1930s, the delightful special effects of invisibility set a standard that today still cannot be achieved. There is something in the primitive, expressionistic style that gives the unwrapping of Rains to scare the locals with such hilarious and horrific power.

As Dr. Jack Griffin, Rains gives a couple of classic homicidal maniac speeches about murdering people for the good of science, while his lovely girlfriend Gloria Stuart (of Titanic fame about 60 years later) frets about. Whale nixed Rains as Dr. Praetorius in the Bride of Frankenstein because of on-set difficulties between them.

Henry Travers is the dutiful sober-sided scientist. Best known as Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, he is less befuddled here. As the loud, half-crazed tavern owner, there is Una O’Connor, shrieking whenever there is a chance.

We also saw Oscar-winner Walter Brennan in one of his earliest roles as the man with the bicycle. He does a wonderful low-brow Brit accent. Also there is John Carradine, father of Keith and David, as a minor character on the telephone.

Alas, Whale was saddled with many American actors whose regionalisms are completely out of place in a small English town. The village boys are decidedly American in tone.

Whales frequently films shorty Rains from the knees looking upward, giving him a frightful height, and the sets are spectacular and sumptuous, a sign that the budgets had improved for the director of Frankenstein.

 

Whatever its shortcomings, this remains an impressive achievement in cinema history.

 

 

Swan Dive on Trump

DATELINE: Wile E. Coyote with Orange Hair?

Pelosi Bronx cheer.jpeg Pelosi’s Bronx Cheer?

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi applauded President Trump on finishing his epic State of the Union with 82 minutes of cram-packed disinformation, she added something to the lexicon of American culture.

We used to have the Bronx Cheer, a rather crude and effective means of making its recipient know how low he has fallen.

You cannot smell a Bronx Cheer, only hear it. You cannot smell a Pelosi clapback, but its visual image will resonate on Twitter and social media forever.

Now, when you want to skewer a blowhard, you point the middle fingers in your pointed hands and make little slaps like a jaw opening and closing on a fool on the hill’s neck.

Among hundreds of political observers—and Trump himself—and countless viewers and re-watching viewers, Mrs. Pelosi stuck it to Trump who had to stand there and take it. His mendacious speechifying was over. Now he had to look like the man with egg on his face or yellow feathers in his mouth. However, the canary just ate him.

Speaker Pelosi looked like Tweety Pie, sitting in the gilded cage, and about to tell us that, indeed, she saw “a Putty Tat.” Yes, indeed, like Sylvester, Mr. Trump just was given his quota of suffering succotash.

If she had been the Road Runner, she would have stuck out her tongue and beeped at him before dashing off and leaving the man and his moment conjoined forever as the biggest damned fool in history.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the priceless expression of the Speaker is visible, and only the back of a head of fake hair comes from the Trump vantage.

If you believe in emblematic moments, you know that Marshall McLuhan is laughing somewhere in the universe.

Andy Warhol at the Super Bowl, 2019

 DATELINE: Great Art Restoration!

Warhol & Whopper

Warhol Takes on Whopper.

We know that iconic artist Andy Warhol enjoyed pop culture, and perhaps he’d be intrigued with the Super Bowl antics every year.

He might be as surprised as we were to find him in a commercial, a highly expensive proposition, endorsing Burger King.

You might think the little scene was filmed by Andy himself at his Factory, but it was merely an appearance he made in 1984 for another director. Here is Andy in 2019, thirty years after he died, now on the big stage of Super Bowl party night.

At first we thought it was a body double—something Warhol was fond of using. He looked thin, but in good shape, making it a little difficult to discern when this was made. He had done all kinds of things—like a Love Boat episode and a cameo in an Elizabeth Taylor movie back in the 1970s.

This filmed scene was after the Studio 54 craze, and he sits quietly, well-dressed as always, his messy wig appropriately placed, and crinkling, opens a bag for Burger King.

We heard he was disappointed to find it was not going to be a Big Mac, but he was always game for product accessibility.

Perhaps the most curious part of his eating the burger, as that is the total action, is that he lifts the top of the bun off the sandwich as if he will pour some of the Heinz ketchup on it. Instead, he has difficulty pouring it onto the wrapper.

Like a cookie in coffee, he dunks the burger in the tomato paste which he even painted in one of his inspired moments.

Though the commercial was only a few seconds, the actual film was a tad longer. It showed him discarding the top of the burger and folding it over for another swipe at the Heinz. All his actions are fastidious. It’s on Youtube for those interested.

We hope his estate and museum was well-paid for this appearance. We doubt he would have been a Patriot fan. In all likelihood, only a fraction of viewers even understood the identity of the slight man in the burger commercial.

Hello, Carol Channing! Goodbye, Dolly!

DATELINE: Showy Biz

Cleopatra, Dolly, Becket  Cleopatra, Dolly, Becket.

Larger than Life is the subtitle of a look at the life of the grand star, Carol Channing.  Having recently died, we were drawn to this streaming video of her life; she was active at 90 and participated in sharing memories and activities when this documentary was made.

Channing seems to have been born big. Like a generation of vaudeville to TV stars, she had a personality that overwhelmed everything—and she was so kind and generous that she became a titan of beloved show biz.

From her days at Bennington College in the 1930s, she was no dumb blonde, but played one on stage constantly. Judy Holliday owed her persona to Carol who was a hit on stage and TV, but never in movies.

It seems the big screen could not contain her. It is reminiscent of Jimmy Durante, who also was too big for the film roles.

She knew everyone—and literally everyone who was someone came backstage to meet her in Hello Dolly—from Al Pacino to Elizabeth Taylor (pictured with Richard Burton).

She was a mimic, a raconteur, and comedian. She could sing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” with originality because she made the song famous on stage in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes—but the movie was always with someone else (Streisand, Monroe, etc.).

As a walking hyperbole, she was subject to female impersonation by drag queens. Once, with Rich Little, she was approached by a man who marveled at the best impersonation of Channing he had ever seen. He asked what he did in real life: never one to miss a beat, Carol said: “I’m a truck driver from Toledo, Ohio.”

Her first movie costar was Clint Eastwood! It was his first movie too, and they had a love scene which they rehearsed endlessly but was so bad that it ended up on the editing room floor.

This amazing documentary is filled with show biz nuggets and stunning old TV and stage clips. She missed one half of one stage performance in her entire life. Astounding lady.

Whose Favorite Wife?

 DATELINE: Cary Grant & Reel History

twototango Cary & Randy.

Let’s dig into the vault of RKO movies from 1940 and pull out a plum. Yep, it’s Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in My Favorite Wife, directed by Garson Kanin.

We presume this was quite the sophisticated, if not racy, comedy of its era. And, it does have a few eyebrow lifting moments!

Grant is a Harvard lawyer whose wife was presumed drowned on a voyage to a South Sea island. He is about to remarry when she shows up with more wackiness than you’d usually find in an I Love Lucy episode.

It’s all rather slow for the first half of the movie. Actually it only comes to life when Grant discovers that his wife (known as Eve) spent seven years alone on an island with her Adam. It turns out that Adam is acrobatic hunk Randolph Scott.

Rumors about the two stars were in high fettle even back in those days—and the interplay between them is priceless. If you like in-jokes, this one lets everyone in on it. A passerby finds Grant ogling Randy and mopping his brow in distress when a middle-aged woman asks him if that is Johnny Tarzan Weissmuller.

Grant notes he wishes he were.

Once again Cary is caught modeling women’s clothing by a psychiatrist with a knowing smile. It’s all a great misunderstanding, of course. It’s Enoch Arden by ways of Shakespeare and writer Leo McCarey.

As sophisticated comedy, this has more subtext than anyone ever suspected. It may not be a great Grant film, but it belongs in the canon, but the powder puff is never quite dry as screwball comedy or comedy of manners.

Oak Island, 11th Episode & 11th Hour

DATELINE: Something’s Happening (we think).

alex front & center Alex, Poised for a Hostile Take Over!

Racing to the end of another and sixth season, The Curse of Oak Island takes time to call in a woman excavator who worked with the ROC equipment last year. Indeed, the Lagina brothers note that it has been a year since they actually dug in the shaft where the Money Pit is likely to be.

It’s a year since they found those two pieces of human bone! If that isn’t slow, we will put our money on the Hare racing against the Tortoise. They admit their hunt has been for “information” this season.

College professors may rejoice over this revelation. Others may not be so thrilled.

The show features Gary Drayton only for a few minutes this week, but he finds part of a lead bracelet that seems a companion piece to the lead Templar Cross he found last season.

Alex Lagina, looking more buff than usual, is once again driving miles to interview middle-aged women at museums in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. He does learn that the latest inscription may be a rune from the Vikings. However, even he as the brightest light in the Oak Island sky, throws cold water on the paralells. He is almost ready to steal the show from his father and uncle.

Still, he actually and half-heartedly digs in Smith’s Cove with Uncle Rick. More bizarre wood structures are under the mud: made for no discernible purpose, they are new discoveries and quite fascinating.

There are growing hints that this year’s big money throwaway will not show returns till next season. But, now we seem to have found evidence of Vikings and Ancient Romans on Oak Island, pre-dating the Knights Templar. It was apparently quite a tourist attraction in its ancient days.

 

 

Son of Frankenstein, Reel History

DATELINE:  Consenting Monsters?

consenting monsters Love after Death.

In the days before cable TV, let alone streaming movies, we last saw the Monster in Son of Frankenstein from 1939. So, we jumped at the chance to look at the star-studded horror classic.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes fits in well as Colin Clive’s son 25 years later, indignant that the small-town minds refer to the monster by his distinguished family name. He is bemused when Igor notes the Monster is his half-brother.

Bela Lugosi, as a Dracula clone, returns as the undead Igor. Yes, he was hanged, declared dead, and came back to life. It gives him a special aura, not to mention the hideous makeup that Jack Pierce laid on him.

Boris Karloff returned to play the Monster one last time. His wardrobe has changed enough that he now wears a sleeveless sheepskin pullover. Not to point out the obvious: he is a wolf monster in lambskin clothing.

One of the bigger surprises is Lionel Atwill as the inspector of the small town with his creaky fake arm that he postures in salute or to hold a cigarette. Our favorite scene is when he puts his darts on the forearm before throwing them. Mel Brooks, where are you? The best scenes in the picture are when master scene stealers Rathbone and Atwill lock wits.

The story has an insipid subplot featuring the good doctor’s toddler son, an American like his mother, and both are point killers.

We loved the moment when the son (Rathbone as Sherlock) deduces that Lugosi has a hypnotic effect on the monster. “Elemental, my dear Benson,” he notes.

If there is any shockeroo, it is that Igor and the Monster seem to be gayly consenting adults. Igor can’t keep his hands off the Karloff creature, and they are clearly soulmates.