CineSavant Column

Saturday January 26, 2019


A quick discussion of the poster for The Giant Behemoth led me to websites about graphic poster artist Reynold Brown, and finally to this fun documentary on his life: The Man Who Drew Bug Eyed Monsters. I may have linked to it in the past. I admit that I skipped the ‘early years’ section, as well as the ‘anxious 1950s’ section, but the discussions of Brown’s work are very good. Great still photos show Brown and his wife taking action poses to be copied for his artwork. Plus, the director found great shots of American main streets with movie marquees. It’s fun looking at a shot like that and thinking, ‘that had to be 1955.’ They say that the reproduction of the posters wasn’t as good as it might be, but the two or three Reynold one-sheets I have look awfully good considering that the original artwork was so small. BTW, despite similarities, we think that the posters for Behemoth and The Day of the Triffids were painted by other artists. And it’s true, the coloration is similar but the samples of Reynold Brown’s work in the docu have more dynamism, and more of a 3-D effect.

Flicker Alley has something special coming up on February 5, a Blu-ray with a rare Sherlock Holmes adaptation, the 1929 German Der Hund von Baskerville. Directed by Richard Oswald (The father of Gerd Oswald), the show is one of the last silent German movies. The 1985 Horror Film Encyclopedia described the show as action- oriented, yet also visually moody. We never thought we’d get the chance to see it.

Carlyle Blackwell, the film’s Sherlock Holmes, was an American known for playing the two-fisted adventurer Bulldog Drummond. The villain Stapleton is played by a Fritz Lang favorite, Fritz Rasp. Flicker Alley’s disc comes with an ensemble music score and inter-titles in both German and English. Among other extras is (on the Blu-ray only) an earlier (1914) version directed by Rudolph Meinert and written by Richard Oswald. Oswald’s screenplay for this earlier version appears to have gone serial-sci-fi crazy, with the evil Stapleton using “a ‘submersible house’ to imprison Sir Henry Baskerville at the bottom of a lake.”

Well, Whattaya Know Department: snooping around for vintage trade mentions about various favorite genre pictures, intrepid advisor Gary Teetzel discovered a news blurb relating to the 1959 Fox classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. It’s self-explanatory, but in case the scan graphic doesn’t come through, the clipping (from perhaps 1956) announces pre-production on the film at RKO, to be produced by Stanley Rubin and directed by Eugène Lourié.

By 1956 RKO was already all but shuttered, so the pre-prod news was either a wishful-thinking Hail Mary gesture in case the studio’s fortunes turned around, or poor producer Rubin spun his wheels for nothing. Had I an inkling about the once-proposed Center of the Earth picture, I would have raced to ask him about it when I interviewed him in 2007. Rubin had produced at Fox and Universal but indeed was with RKO at this time — his film The Girl Most Likely (1958) was RKO’s final production, and actually released by Universal-International.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson