CineSavant Column

Saturday April 22, 2023



It’s Share and Tell Day. We just tripped over our photos of  Mike Hyatt’s  poster display for  a certain Sci-Fi attraction  at his 2012 midnight show at the TCM Film Festival — it filled one of the larger theaters.

This is less than half of the ‘Hyatt Collection’ on this title, so I just chose a few interesting, unusual variations. The graphic does zoom larger, to read some of the smaller print. The titles translate thusly: #’s 1 and 3 Italian:  ‘Invasion of the Green Monsters’;  #2 German:  ‘Flowers of Terror’,  #4 Spanish:  ‘The Green Menace.’ The big text in #2 is  ‘Fear! Horror! Panic!’

I mean honestly, what online outlet can match CineSavant for important public service?



This second image above enlarges as well. Correspondent Malcolm Alcala forwarded; it’s a Universal-International publicity photo from (presumably) 1957, the release year of The Land Unknown, the movie featuring the goofy T-Rex on the left. That costume must have weighed a ton.

The cutesy posed photo is from Universal’s makeup department. Department head Bud Westmore (right) was notorious for usurping sole credit for the work done by the ‘department staff’ — impressive creations like Ann Blyth’s mermaid outfit, the Mole Men and of course the best man-in-suit monster of them all, The Gill Man. Westmore pretends to be working on a Mole Man mask. Detractors said that Westmore showed up on the floor mainly when the publicity cameramen came around. In many photos Bud pretends to be working on creations made by others. What now sounds like an artistic crime was then studio business as ususal.

We at first thought that the woman on the left, teasing Bud with a Mole Man claw, was Millicent Patrick, the actress and talented artist-designer now credited with designing the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Friend and noted makeup veteran Craig Reardon assures me that the woman above is not Ms. Patrick. Can anybody identify her?

In his deep-dive research book The Creature Chronicles Tom Weaver quotes expert Bob Burns as reporting that sculptor Chris Mueller named Millicent as the Creature’s main designer. Mueller’s main point was to emphasize that department head Westmore had nothing to do with The Gill Man. Through independent hand-me-down testimony, Craig Reardon was also told that Mueller ‘did credit her with breaking through with a design that nailed the look of the beast.’

 Millicent Patrick (the woman not in the top photo) also sat for a great deal of publicity art, sketching at her drafting table and posing with the department’s creations, also pretending to be ‘touching up’ various masks, etc. That was normally Bud Westmore’s exclusive domain, and he didn’t like sharing the spotlight. The department’s guild employees — the artists and sculptors who actually made the monsters — deeply resented Westmore’s relentless credit hogging.

According to Tom Weaver’s documentation and research, Bud Westmore wouldn’t have been playing around with Millicent Patrick when this photo was taken, sometime in 1957. Back in 1954 the Universal front office proposed a publicity tour that would send the photogenic Millicent Patrick from city to city making media appearances as The Creature’s creator. Westmore blew a fuse over that idea. He wrote a memo claiming that he alone had come up with the Creature’s design, and that Ms. Patrick had merely sketched the ideas he dictated. This proprietary tyranny is what made the makeup department head so unpopular.

It’s quite likely that the Creature promotion tour was just a passing proposal in the publicity department.  At any rate, it looks like the #MeToo movement had to come along before Millicent Patrick was properly recognized.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson