Born Sept. 14, 1900 – Died May 16th, 1979
Director Florey is almost as famous famous for the movie he DIDN’T direct as much as the ones he did. He was the one that brought the idea of doing Frankenstein as a follow up to Dracula (1931), as well as H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man and Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue. He was attached at one time to do Shelley’s novel but after a failed screen test with Bela Lugosi, he was dropped from the project, giving him Poe’s Murders to do instead. Florey apparently didn’t read his contract close enough because when he thought he was going to do Frankenstein, his contract said that he would direct “a picture”, not a specific one in particular. But many of the elements from his script would later be found in the final Whale picture.
He started working in Hollywood as a journalist, even working in the foreign publicity department for names like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. He started directing in 1927, with the film One Hour of Love. In 1929, he directed The Cocoanuts, the very first Marx Brothers film.
Nonetheless, Florey would go on to give us a few great genre films, as well as working in just about every other genre out there. While not as much of a classic as Frankenstein, his adaptation of Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), starring Bela Lugosi, is a perfect example of how they were really pushing the limited in the Pre-Code era. Florey would also direct Peter Lorre in two other well made titles, The Face Behind the Mask (1941) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946).
Eventually, he would later move to working in television, where he stayed for several years.
He may be knowns as the guy who almost directed Frankenstein, but I think he could be very proud of his output, in the horror genre, as well as in genre. It is just up to us fans to make sure he is remembered.
Born Jan. 16th, 1890 – Died May 3rd, 1969
Karl Freund was a German cinematographer that worked with some other top names in the business: Robert Wiene, F.W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang. When he finally made his way over to the states, Universal quickly put him under contract, where he would photograph several of their films, including a few horror films like Dracula (1931) and Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932). He would eventually direct a few films, two of them being horror, and both of which have become classics. The first one was The Mummy (1932) starring Boris Karloff, the second one was Mad Love (1935), starring Peter Lorre. This would be his last film as a director.
Freund went back to being a cameraman, because that is what he knew best. He won an Oscar for Best Cinematography for The Good Earth (1937), nominated again for Blossoms in the Dust (1941), and was given an Oscar in 1955 in the Technical Achievement department for the design and development of a direct reading brightness meter. He eventually went to work in television, specifically on the I Love Lucy show, and helped developed the 3-camera system for filming TV shows, which is still being used today. He also developed a new way of lighting the sitcoms, making them look a lot better than what they had been.
So while he was obviously a very talented cameraman, and gave the industry some amazing technical advances, he also gave us horror fans some great movies to watch, which we still continue to do today!
Because our September and October wasn’t filling up already, the Music Box has decided to screen some of the Universal classics in their Universal Horror: A Matinee Series, starting at 11:30am on each weekend listed below. Plus the fact that these are all being screened from 35mm prints! Now is your chance to see some of these essential titles from our horror history but on the big screen like they were meant to be seen! Here’s the schedule for this series:
The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931 to 1936
By Jon Towlson
Published by McFarland, 2015. 240 pages
One of the wonderful things about reading up on the history of horror films is that there is always something new and interesting that can be learned once a subject is really put under the magnifying glass. Now this isn’t to say that if you look for something you’ll find it, even if it isn’t there, but Towlson has done a great deal of research to back up his thoughts and ideas in this recent book. It also shows that no matter how long you’ve been a fan, there is always more to learn.