blogathons, MOVIES, Tower of London (1939)
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Tower of London (1939)

Part of the Vincent Price Blogathon hosted by Nitrate Diva

We have a lot of Vincent Price fans as regulars here on The Baz. I’m one myself in fact, so it seems appropriate to take part in the VP blogathon and celebrate Vincent’s talent. I thought about looking at A COMEDY OF TERRORS, a movie I actually like quite a lot (though many deplore it), but I want to leave that to a more general consideration of Basil’s later movies. So, today I’m talking about that strange hybrid film, TOWER OF LONDON.

Part faithful historical exploration. Part Universal Horror. Featuring fine nuanced performances from the likes of Price, Basil Rathbone and Ian Hunter on the one hand, and Karloff with a club foot and a bald wig on the other, TOWER OF LONDON covers the life of Richard III, from the second accession to the throne of his brother Edward IV in 1471 to his own death at Bosworth in 1485.

Much as I love it, I have to concede it’s a car crash of a film that never seems to know what it’s trying to do. Director Rowland V. Lee and scriptwriter brother Robert seem to have set out at some point to create a serious movie. The events of the later part of the Wars of the Roses are fairly accurately portrayed. Universal too seems to have been on board with this as an extravaganza. The costumes are sumptuous. The sets massive. The attention to detail notewothy. Art Director Jack Otterson, an architect who had apparently worked on the Empire State Building, created very accurate facsimiles of the Tower of London, including Traitor’s Gate and the White Tower. Matte paintings by Jack Cosgrove, and Russell Lawson completed the illusion.

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Maybe unsurprisingly the finished movie came in $80,000 over budget.

There was even a plan to score the film with period music, though this was later abandoned and replaced with second hand cues from SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, which certainly helped to up the horror element, while lowering the general tone.

So what, you might wonder, is Karloff doing here, playing a bald clubfooted entirely fictional executioner called “Mord”(first time I saw this movie I thought they were calling him Maud, which caused some cognitive dissonance)?

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Was he a later addition, to try and pull the rambling historical epic back into the familiar Horror genre the Universal executives felt safe with? Or was he actually a part of Lee’s original plan? And is that scene where he kisses Rathbone’s hand and tells him he’s a god, intended to convey muffled homo-eroticism?

I can enjoy the many anomalies and weirdnesses in this hugely atypical movie, but What makes me love it as much as I do is the fact that, if you cut out “Mord” and the utterly forgettable and also entirely fictional, afterthought hero, “John Wyatt” (played by John Sutton as one step up from talking wallpaper), you would be left with a much better and curiously modern movie, devoid of moral absolutes, featuring not just one but three ambiguous anti-heroes. It’s these three and their interactions and implied deeply complex relationships that make this film something really unusual.

Ian Hunter as Edward IV, Richard’s oldest brother, is a revelation. Watch him in most of his films, and he passes you by in amiably anonymity. “Everyone’s favorite father-hero” as he is described on IMDB. He’s a vaguely smiling block of wood in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE LITTLE PRINCESS. A vaguely sanctimonious block of wood in CONFESSION. But in TOWER OF LONDON, he suddenly gets animated. He’s subtle, morally questionable, roguish, affable and ruthless. He plays his two younger brothers off each other and enjoys the mayhem it creates. He happily enables Clarence to commit treason as a means of getting rid of him, and is amiably unfazed when told of his “accidental” death. He’s not just interesting, he’s also authentic. You can easily imagine the real Edward was pretty much like this. In his scenes with both Rathbone and Price he does more than hold his own. He’s awesome.

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As Richard, Basil is fantastic. BR was fond of pointing out that there are few real heroes and villains, just people doing their own confused thing. Richard, with his ambiguous reputation would have been a great challenge for him. Sadly, he has to spend quite a lot of the plot telling Mord to murder people (I think he basically is responsible directly or indirectly for every death in the film), so we are not left in much doubt about the extent of his villainy. Yet even so, in his scenes with Price and Hunter, we get a very different, much more subtle interpretation of his character. He seems to genuinely love and respect his older brother Edward. The chemistry between them, their history is almost palpable. They know each other so well sometimes a look between them is all it needs for them both to know what each other is thinking. Richard’s relationship with his middle brother Clarence is equally shaded in gray. They dislike each other, distrust each other, but there’s not much to tell us who is the worse for it. Through much of the film, if he didn’t have Mord and his “box of dollies” (as BR termed them) to confide in we wouldn’t really be sure what Richard’s plans were or where on the relative scale of good or evil he might belong.

Vincent Price as George Duke of Clarence, the third part of the triple act, is in many ways the most interesting of all. Price was only 28 years old, and this was just his third or fourth film. He was 19 years younger than Basil, though playing his older brother, and his movie technique was still developing, but he more than holds his own. His fey, sullen childlike Clarence is unforgettable, and still lives for me as my image of the historical character. Whenever Clarence comes up for mention, I think of Vincent, clutching that little lapdog, drooping in his seat, scowling resentfully at his older brothers, cackling like a man deranged when he thinks he’s won the drinking contest. I want Clarence to have been like that. I hope he was.

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And that death scene. When I first watched it, aged about 12, it shocked me with its unexpected and authentic brutality. And it’s Price’s acting that does most of that. The fear in his face and in his voice as he realizes Richard isn’t going to be defeated. He knows what’s coming and is terrified by it. In my 12 year old mind I wondered if he woke up once he was inside that wine barrel. Imagined how his final moments would have been. Poor Clarence. However selfish and greedy he was, he didn’t deserve that.

For those who haven’t seen the film – see it! Even if Karloff seems to be in a different movie, Nan Grey’s headdress seems to be wearing her, Barbara O’Neil plays Elizabeth Woodville like a kindly headmistress from an Enid Blyton novel, Miles Mander is WAY too old for Henry VI and Donnie Dunagan WAY too Texan for…well, for being in this film at all. Watch it. For Otterson’s great sets, for the curious vein of historical fidelity that runs true all the way through, and – above all – for that Triumverate of great acting from Ian, Basil and Vincent.

Here’s that famous and amazing drinking contest, just to give you all a taste…

And here for those with the time and inclination is the full movie. Watch the opening titles and imagine what it would have been like with Charles Previn’s period music rather than that warmed over Son Of Frankenstein stuff.

Please visit NitrateDiva’s blog where you can see links to all the other posts in Vincent’s blogathon…

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67 Comments

  1. Lady Anne Nevile says

    I have been a massive Richard iii groupie since they found his bones under the car park and I have been devouring everything Richard-related. This film is as you say surprisingly historically accurate through much of its length, a cut above many of the more lush period dramas in that respect. Like you I’m at a loss to explain what Mord is doing there. But I enjoyed the film immensely. The three brothers are delightfully realized, though of course I am convinced Richard did not kill his nephews. That’s all Tudor propaganda.

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    • Queenio says

      I can’t agree with you about Richard. No one had a better motive for killing the princes than he did.

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      • Californication says

        Henry Tudor had as much motive if not more motive. But I have a feeling that discussion is OT

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  2. rosebette says

    The Robin Hood score is Korngold, who was a major classical and film composer. I’m afraid the Universal scores were pretty cheesy and probably not considered worth recording.

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          • Mikufan says

            Does anybody know what the tracks were actually called? Just out of plain random interest.

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            • You mean the original Renaissance/medieval soundtrack they never used? No, I don’t. It was choral in part. I believe Charles Previn composed it. Maybe they used it somewhere else? Really wish the had kept it in ToW.

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              • Mikufan says

                I remember thinking back that ‘The son of Frankenstein’ was my first non-Sherlock Baz movie.
                The music came on and I was like: “Wait a minute….-_-”
                It just gets stuck in your head, y’know?

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        • the countess says

          Oh and the rather poorly hidden zippers in the back of the guys tunics from TOL drive me crazy. Not a stich Nazi but realy.

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  3. I love your evaluation of this peculiar, complex film which, at times, does come close to approximating the ambiguity of Shakespeare’s War of the Roses plays. I totally agree with your analysis of the triangle of brothers and with your dissection of the remarkable depth than each actor brought to his character. It’s a shame that Universal didn’t have the guts to bite the bullet and produce a superior costume drama instead of a horror-history mashup. I also enjoyed your spot-on discussion of each central character especially Price’s “fey, sullen childlike Clarence.” You also do a hilarious job of pointing out the movie’s clunkier aspects. Ah well, at least we have those terrific major performances!

    I’m also reading a biography on Price, the one written by his daughter, Victoria, and have a fun Basil, Boris, and Vincent practical joke anecdote I thought I’d share, about that marvelous drinking scene.

    You may have already heard it, but here goes, in Price’s words: “We had the scene where Basil and I had to drink to the kingdom of England. Rowland Lee didn’t like the dialogue, and neither did we, because the more we drank, the less we could remember. It was only Coca-Cola, but Coke is stimulating, too. Well, over in one corner was a huge vat of malmsey wine in which I was to be drowned. Boris and Basil, knowing I was new to the business, thought it was great fun to throw everything they could into the vat of wine, which was actually just water. You know, old Coca-Cola bottles, cigarette butts, anything they could find to dirty it up, because they knew at the end of the scene I had to get into it. There was a handrail at the bottom of the vat, so I could dive down and hand onto it. I had to stay under for a full ten counts, and then I was yanked out by my heels. Well, when I came out I got a round of applause from the crew, but was disappointed not to see Boris and Basil. Then a few minutes late they reappeared and were very nice to me. They congratulated me on playing the scene so well for a newcomer, and then presented me with a case of Coca-Cola!” (Price, 101)

    And so Vincent became one of the boys…

    Thank you so much for contributing to the blogathon!

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    • Thanks ND! I have wondered if the original period score for TOWER OF LONDON survives any place. It would be cool if someone was at least able to restore that aspect in the future. Love VP’s story I wish he’d left more record of his friendship with Basil, which was apparently pretty close.

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      • the countess says

        I colud be wrong but isnt the score for almost ALL of the horror pics of that time the same score..perhaps a bit of a change in places but for the most part the same.I know theres a album of Robin Hood score.Our Lib used to have it.There copy had a pic of Basil from the movie on the back..think it was the back or liner notes.But he wasnt on the record.

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  4. the countess says

    Yes.Gretchen, thank you so much.I had read it ages ago..could have been in “I like What I Know”.The Local Lib had a copy of it ages ago..which dissapired..but to quote Mr. Gilly “NOT ME!”.Somebody beat me to it. It took me 4ever to realize that the same woman who played Liz so baddly in TOL was Scarlet O’Hara’s mom in “Gone With the Wind” I kept wondering when did she learn to act? Ellen whoudnt have SNS have been a much better flick if Vinny had been kept in Doug Jr. part! Sorry to say not 1 of my fave Basil flicks..except for the shorts.Love the shorts! The rest seems to be endless sceens of a raido tower and Basil slogging back and forth in the mud in the pouring rain.The power went out at some point during it and I missed a middle section.No it wasnt monsoon season here I think somebody hit a pole.

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    • the countess says

      Omm..she married someone ELSE?????? You got Vinney on his knees begging you to marrie him….and you say no? Call the guys with the white coats and the straight jackets.

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      • GRETCHEN says

        I know……TOTALLY! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
        I’d have died of JOY if he’d just said “hi” to me!! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Vincent didn’t exactly “beg” Barbara to marry him though, and maybe THAT’S the problem. Never the “assertive-type”, he had been rather complacent when it came to finally “asking her”, after being accustomed to years of her “using” him. If he’d pushed the idea of marriage a little HARDER, and really stood his ground and let her KNOW how he felt about her, she would’ve taken him a bit more seriously. He may have been too SHY to tell her his feelings, or he wanted to give her “space” to make the decision on her OWN—that might be why he said he was “ready when she was”.

        In any case, Barbara strung-him-along for about 20 years in one of those “friends with benefits” kind-of relationships, and perhaps didn’t view him in the same way as those who HADN’T known him as a little kid. To her, he was still that awkward 11 year-old boy with a “crush” on her…NOT a sexy, handsome man of grace and stature, as well as maturity. She probably enjoyed the “casual” sex, and the friendship, but never truly “fell in LOVE” with Vincent. When she wasn’t busy married-to or dating someone ELSE, she’d go back to her old, comfy (and reliable) lover, Vinnie—and, he LET her.

        The poor SUCKER! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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        • the countess says

          Gretchen I know we disagred on Vinnys dau. but if I could find a way to share the hugs I got from him with you I would.So I’ll share my fave one with you. close your eyes and pretend It’s Vinny and your only as tall as his armpit so your face is aginst his chest.He’s wearing a wool suit,It’s scratchy aginst your face but thats ok It’s Vinny.Your shaking and he thinks it’s cute,and laughes and says your cute .Hugs from me for Vinny.And yes I KNOW i’m VERY privlaged to have met him and doubly privlaged to have met him more then once.Such a wonderfull kind sweet man.

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          • GRETCHEN says

            THANK YOU for that sweet story, Countess! I feel all warm and fuzzy, now. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Awww……what a CUTIE he was, huh?

            Don’t worry—his soul’s been visiting me in my dreams since about 2 weeks after his death—hugging, holding, and comforting me when I’m sad, or being a playful, silly friend to me. We’ve had a LOT of fun together over these past 20 years! Whenever I’m down, or going through a bad time, he’ll show-up. (You’re right—he’s a GREAT hugger!) What a PAL Vincent is…I guess all those years I’d prayed for and thought about him (before he died) became known to him after death, and he wanted to be MY buddy, too!

            When he was alive, every X-Mas I’d imagine Vincent happily opening gifts under the tree with his loved-ones, just like I was; and, I asked God to give he and his family a wonderful day, too…little did I know, Coral wasn’t allowing him to enjoy his favorite holiday for MOST of those years—hopefully, somehow, God sent my love to him each Christmas!

            Up until he died, I included him in my prayers before bed, EVERY night—and since his death, I’ve “talked” to his soul each day.

            (Gee, I hope I’m not BUGGIN’ him, or anything! Nah…he’s COOL.) ๐Ÿ™‚

            P.S.—An acquaintance of mine used to live a few houses away from Vincent’s ex-wife Mary and his daughter Victoria (after they’d divorced, back in the ’70s), and knew them a bit when she was a teen—she never met Vinnie, however…too BAD.

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            • the countess says

              I think Vinny be the 1st one under the tree opening presents.Paper flying in every diriction.You might think this is a silly question but have you ever seen ‘The Bluebird”? it’s a Shirly Temple movie also has Gale Sonderguard,as her cat Metill and Willy Bruce in it as Mr. Rich[i think.] and Freddy Bartholemew as one of the kids in Heaven. Anyhow the first sceen when Shirley and her lil bro go looking for the bluebird the go to there Grandparents house [there dead] There grandparents only truly “alive” when someone who loves them is thinking about them. Mabey truer then we think.

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              • the countess says

                Cut off.. No I dont think your “bothering” Vinny at all. Sometimes we forget famous people are only people.Many are way more aprochable and frindley than there ‘fans’ think. Not saying go stalk a movie star today,just saying, say hi..without ripping someones clothes off and chaseing them screaming down a hall.You might start a frindship.

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                • GRETCHEN says

                  I’ve never thought of “famous” people as being “famous”…they’ve just got better-paying (and MUCH funner) jobs than most other people—that’s about IT. Even if Vincent or Basil had only been janitors or something, I’d have STILL been attracted to (and fallen in LOVE with) them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

                  What we know as “fame” is the invention of general society. They can’t be happy just existing and having fun on their OWN…there’s always got to be some person or “gimmick” to hold-onto, or they’d simply fall-apart. Humans are natural “followers” (Twitter, anyone?), and they tend to enjoy dressing in the latest fashions as everyone ELSE so they “fit-in”, or mimicking those they admire, such as athletes and performers. I don’t happen to follow trends, or care about actors’ or musicians’ newest hairstyles, the “latest gossip”, or what’s being worn on the “runway” this season. I also don’t need to WORSHIP my fellow human beings, since I AM one, myself…makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Yet, people do it ALL the time, for some reason. I never wanted to be “famous”, ’cause I felt sorry for those stars who lost their anonymity, and couldn’t just go to the store and buy stuff like I can, without being mobbed by autograph-seekers or stalked by nuts.

                  I casually know (or have met) some “celebrities”—to ME, they’re just my friends/nice people……

                  My older brother Carl (who died in 2005) was a custom car designer/builder, and he used to take me to classic-car-shows…I also volunteered each year to sell T-shirts and raffle tickets at his boss’ Cadillac car-show, called: “Cool Caddy Nights” (which took place in Sparks, Nevada at the “Nugget” hotel/casino every summer from the late ’90s-mid-2000s). At these various venues, I met and conversed-with people such as: the singer Glen Campbell and his daughter, George Barris (the guy who designed/built “Herbie”, the Munsters’ car, the Batmobile, etc.) and his wife, as well as the actor Paul Le Mat (who was in the film “American Graffiti”). My brother was friends with Art Himsl and Gene Winfield for several years—they’ve been well-known for decades for their AMAZING custom paint-jobs on show-cars. He also knew George Barris and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth (the “Rat Fink” guy), a little. Carl designed and built the show-car “The Cadster” for his boss, which went on to win the “World’s Best Custom” award, and was later purchased at auction by the musician (and classic-car-collector) Eric Clapton…it’s also been featured in some auto magazines/books.

                  I’ve been pen-pals with Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara, Emil Sitka’s son Saxon, Shemp Howard’s granddaughter Sandie, the actor Edward Hardwicke (Sir Cedric Hardwicke’s son, now deceased), and Vincent Price’s friend Lucy Chase Williams, over the past SEVERAL years (since the ’90s/2000s). I send gifts and/or cards to Sara, Saxon, and Sandie for X-Mas each year, and they usually send me a card or letter, too. I’ve sent them some of my artwork, and portraits of their celebrity family-members in the past, as well. Yup…they’re my BUDS. ๐Ÿ™‚

                  MORE USELESS BUT (SOMEWHAT) INTERESTING FAMILY FUN-FACTS:

                  2 of my cousins (my dad’s brother’s sons) went to high-school with (and knew) the actor Tom Hanks, back in the ’70s. (Their dad went to high school with (and knew) the actor/singer Tony Martin, and a whole BUNCH of guys who later became major-league baseball players.) They also lived across the street from Bruce Lee’s relatives’ house (in Oakland), and saw him practicing martial-arts on the lawn with his cousins, or something—they didn’t know WHAT the heck he was doing, jumping-around kicking, and stuff—I guess back in the ’60s-’70s that kind of thing was NEW to Americans…or at least, to my cousins!

                  A relative of my mom’s was in the Navy during WWII, and was onboard the same ship as the actor Eddie Albert, whom he said used to “clown-around” a lot for the guys (Eddie was one of Vincent Price’s BESTEST buddies!).

                  When I was a senior in high school, they filmed the hilarious “restaurant scene” for the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” at Bridges Restaurant, a few blocks from my school, in Danville. There were movie-trailers parked all over, and crowds of people hanging-around for several WEEKS, trying to “catch a glimpse” of Robin Williams and Sally Field—which to me and my family was kind-of annoying—especially the traffic!

                  Tom Hanks was born in Concord (where my parents and brothers lived from 1955 until the mid-’60s)…he later lived in Oakland (where my parents and their siblings grew-up and lived, until they got married). He was also born the SAME year as my oldest brother, Richard (1956). Carl was born a year later. I wonder if they all attended the SAME kindergarten/elementary school together!

                  Ahhh—such a SMALL (and cozy!) World we live in. ๐Ÿ™‚

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                  • MikuFan says

                    I totally get what you mean about people following the crowd, my parents and I refer to them as sheep.
                    I get what you mean about famous people aswell. A couple of my (Reasonably distant) family members are reasonably famous and they’re both regular people! I really don’t get why people get so worked up about how amazing famous people are, Johnny Depp drove past me and my Dad once on our way to the supermarket ( Or Grocery stores I think you guys call em’?) and we didn’t really get worked up or tell anybody.

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                    • MikuFan says

                      Although saying that I’m obsessed with Basil Rathbone. ๐Ÿ˜€

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              • GRETCHEN says

                “The Bluebird” is one of my FAVE Shirley Temple flicks—that, and “The Little Princess”. I like the part when she visits “heaven”, and the two teenage lovers are forcibly-separated, to be “born” at different times—destined NEVER to meet again, until death…it’s such a tear-jerker! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ *sniff*

                Did you know that Shirley Temple was originally chosen to play “Dorothy” in “The Wizard of Oz”? I’m sure GLAD Judy Garland got the part, instead…and, that they scrapped that AWFUL, dated “Jitterbug” song/dance sequence! ๐Ÿ™‚

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                • MikuFan says

                  I actually don’t mind the Jitterbug that much, it was my favourite song not so long ago, people were a little confused when I started humming it at school but atleast I wasn’t humming Justin Bieber songs.

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                • the countess says

                  The boy is Freddy.He’s also in “Gone With The Wind” Hes the little boy playing the fife When the band strikes up Dixie.Where Scarlet and Meloney go to see if theres any word of Ashly in the lastes causelty lists.Shirley isnt a bad actress.I think she was better actress then the parts she was given to act in.Like The Little Princes. I read it long before i ever saw her version.But She got to act in it. Not just look cute and sing whatever silly song they had penned just for that movie. .but I think Wizard would never have been as good with her.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Atwill’s scenes in SNS were totally awful,dragged down movie.But loved Babs & Baz.Doug was ok,agree it wasn’t great movie,but hunky Baz made me watch,agree loved those shorts.Maybe his breakdown in movie over the top,but I love him in it.Def Vinnie should have been kept in movie opp Baz as his brother.

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      • Ellen Foley says

        Can totally believe Vinnie as gentlemanly as he seemed on screen,even at his most dastardly villain.Such class,not like most acting personnel today,I’m talking the major divas,male and female,not those struggling for their walkons or bit parts,uncredited,struggling to pay bills with legit talent.Something I’m sure Vinnie and Baz supported in anyone trying toget a break.Dont know why Baz didn’t do some proper directing,even Marian is stated as having done directing stagework..Baz should’ve continued stage and screen appearances when he regained his composure,if he ever did what with the Banshee he married in 1926.She had anything on him,threatened to reveal all,with her lies and deceit to land Baz as her prize.Too bad Rodion didn’t reveal about her,too much of a gent,I’m sure.

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  5. the countess says

    Ok somebody help me out. Where did I get the notion Vinny was maried to Barbra O’Niel?]Minie Mouse Liz Woodvyle. I read it SOMEPLACE or mabey it was only an engament as I keep reading his st wife was Mary Barrett.

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    • GRETCHEN says

      Countess—I wrote somewhere about this subject in a previous post, on this blog:

      Vincent went to elementary school with Barbara O’Neil, and he had a HUGE crush on her. They dated on and off and were lovers for several years (as adults), but she chose to marry someone ELSE—in spite of Vincent having been “ready when she was”, to get married. This broke his heart. His first wife, Edith Barrett, “coincidentally” looks a LOT like Barbara……hmmm. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      His second wife was Mary Grant, and his third was (GAG!) Coral Browne. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Ellen Foley says

        Wow,thanks Gretchen for setting record straight-always wondered why Barb & Vinnie were on and off before marriages and after divorces.Thought he’d broken her heart,surprised it was otherwise.With chem Baz & Barb seemed to have in The Sun Never Sets movie,wondered if they got together.Thought they looked great as couple in The Sun movie,maybe they had chem cuz Vinnie started out as the younger brother,Joh,which then went to Doug,Jr.

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      • the countess says

        Gretchen I’m sorry,I ment Edith Barrett it was late[realy not 4am though] I was tired.

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  6. I’m a Price fan as well, and I’m becoming a Rathbone fan day by day (Basil died on my birthday! Oh!). I have to watch this film, since it has everything I like in a motion picture!
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Greetings!

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  7. Judy D. says

    “Mouseketeer hat”!! A great image and I will now giggle every time I see it! As to Henry Daniell and the orgy, I thought it was Lionel Atwill who was the orgy king (or hopefully not queen). Mebbe Henry was at Lionel’s party…. Not much else to do nights in Hollyweird….!
    Had a lovely middle-of-night thought: could “Sunset Boulevard” possibly be based just an iddy bit on rumors of the idyllic relationship between OB (former actress/screenwriter, for whom the screen had become too small) and BR (needed a steadying influence and some spending money), with Miltern as OB’s faithful servant? Next time it’s on I’m going to try to superimpose our people. That photo the other day of OB vamping on the staircase with Bazz looking up at her like “OK, if you must play a part, I’ll go along with it” made me think of this. Since we have no idea of how OB sounded when she spoke (did she use long ciggie holders?), it’s fun to at least think about. Did the producer know/dislike BR, or OB?

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Think Atwill was showing porn flicks,not sure if he’d lured young boys to his party.There was something said how the Daniells went to peep shows and something about them attending orgy (?).,but they may have only watched,not participated,such is Wiki misinfo,IMHO.Whatever,it didn’t and shouldn’t have made a diff in his life,i was mutual consent by marriage partners and I’m sure he wasn’t used and abused by his wife.Really wondering what OR supp had on BR,to threaten to reveal all-my granny used to come up with that whenever the mood swung and LOOK OUT,too.The way she talked,I thought my sibs and I were illegit or something-she had nothing,but enjoyed to threaten to get her way.

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    • the countess says

      Gloria Swanson is Sunset B thought orgy king was Claud Rains vieing for the crown with Fatty Arbuckel.

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      • The thing about the Daniells going to places to watch people having sex (or something) was mentioned by PG Wodehouse in a letter to his daughter. I have a hard time with that. And now you are telling me Claude Rains had orgies?

        Claude Rains?

        Were there any British character actors in Hollywood in the thirties who weren’t secretly perving in their free time?

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        • Ellen Foley says

          Claude was married too many times to need orgies.But pix of him in a spot on TCM showed he was VERY ATTRACTIVE in younger days,like our Baz.And he fought off advances by Bette Davis for YEARS!

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        • the countess says

          BASIL! and C.Aubry Smith..still thinking..never heard bad on David Niven or Herbert Marshal[sp?] or Donald Crisp.

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          • the countess says

            Let me make clear the above are the ones i NEVER heard or read bad about..adding Ronald Colman too list.And Willy Bruce.Whos tecnicly not English nor Basil nor Donald.

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  8. Ellen Foley says

    Still trying to decide which actress’s part is most like Mrs R,oh,maybe Mord if he was a she,but not picking victims according to Richard’s whims.Glad Vinnie said Baz’s was more historically accurate.I follow Rodion’s every word with complete attention.Love his telling Mr Wallpaper to look out for Richard and the coin he tosses to Boris.Don’t know if anyone else loves Boris in The Body Snatcher,loved how he comes across with the little girl,esp for such a cold-blooded killer,but one of few really sensitive parts for Henry Daniell.I think he acts like his doesn’t stink opposite Baz in Sherlock Holmes and loved seeing his supposed fall at the end.Hank wasn’t one of handsomest faces in H’weird.Really wonder what scandal occured when he and his wife attended either a peep show or an orgy (The Daniells).Something about it on Wiki,that source of misinfo,as Baz’s knighthood,which I think he deserved more than some in Rock & Roll today.

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  9. Hey all. I was just sent a header image by a regular reader which incorporates our usual font and is quite awesome, so I thought I’d give it a try. Much thanks to Danny. I’d link to his website but he didn’t give me the URL ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. the countess says

    Was Clarnce like Vinny? Well I like to think so,But George Duke of Clarnce was pretty much of a rotter. He didnt need his elder bro to play him off of Richard, George tried more then 1 time to commet treason. Edward forgave him. and forgave him.I think George was a bit mad he seams to have gone a bit off the deep end when his wife Isabel neville died running around haveing people executed for posining her[she died in or as a consquince of childbirth]That seam to have been the straw that broke the cames back. with Edward.You have to rember he was in it with The Earl of Warick[anna and Isabels dad] when he tried to overthrow Edward and put Henry back on the thr one.Ann Richards wife was 1st married to Henry’s[ ? some say not] son the Prince of Wales.George was tall, blond, and discribed as handsom. Good choice of Vinny there!Georges drinking was totaly legendary and I read that it’s thought IF they did drown him a vat of Malmsy he chose the death. How he dided has never been proven just that he was excuted.Quietly,at least and not on the block.Probly way more then any of you wanted to know about the wars of the roses. John Sutton talking walpaper I luv it. he couldnt act his way out of a wet paper bag.Watching Jr. I’m amazed that his crarrer went no place and Suttons did, totaly unfair.Jr. does more with his small part in the film then Sutton does with his big part.Ian makes a perfect Edward if not tall and blond and handsom he has charm.Poor Boris they seam to have writen him in just to have him in it.Did they glue cattypillers to his eybrows or what?Elizabeth Woodville in the film cant act she just makes faces under her mousekteer hat.Mic…key..mouse.

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  11. Ellen Foley says

    So much better movie than BR’s Oscar nominated Louis in If I Were King,some consolation seeing him in Tower when he wasn’t given consideration by studio moguls to star as Frollo in The Hunchback w/Chuck Laughton.Still love this TOL whenever TCM shows it.Agree with age differences and strange castings for this film-Vinnie older than Baz?Maybe in spirit,and John whats-his-name so forgettable as the hero-that should have been Rodion instead in that part,but love him as Lord Devere (?).Vinnie orig cast in Rodion’s role.Lovely photo from set of both Rathbones and Karloff.

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    • Ellen Foley says

      Wondering if Baz having his chair turned away from Rodion’s scene of execution was from memories of his war experiences or the brink of WWII and knowing Rodion would go into service when war declared.Robt Osborne said on one showing of TOL that Baz had his chair turned sideways as he couldn’t look,didn’t notice 1st time watched it,but did after mentioned notice how it looked kind of awkward the positioning of his chair at execution.

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  12. Judy D. says

    Thanks, I needed this–have the sciatic yelps today. Loved BR’s hair and makeup in this one, and the drinking scene with VP was–oh, say it, Priceless! Thought Boris was an afterthought suggested by BR(?), and I think he’s good fun. Sexton was cute but sure couldn’t act, as you said. And wow, we get a pretty good bonus minute or two of Rodion. Had they done this movie under today’s standards, it would have been a classic on all levels. It’s one of my favorites of BR’s, nevertheless, and ought to be shown more often. Thanks for all the new photos from it.

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    • I was wondering if anyone was going to mention Rodion’s bit part! I remember first seeing this movie when I was 15 years old – it may have been that long ago since I last watched it! Wow. Sounds like I have a great movie to re-watch.

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  13. You give a great take on this flawed film, the way it seems to balance uneasily between Universal Horror and History. I think Ian Hunter was an actor who was typecast by his features (not unusual in Hollywood), but when given the chance, could show what he had. I wonder what Price, Rathbone, and Hunter would have been like in the Shakespeare version — they all had the acting chops to take on the Bard, and no doubt Rathbone would have been a compelling Richard on stage (I guess Karloff would have been First Murderer…). Thanks for a great post!

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    • Thanks GOM! I was slightly stunned to realise Ian Hunter could really act when I re-watched this movie a a grown up. Love your take on THE TINGLER. It was another film that scared me rigid when I saw it at a tender age. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Nanette B. says

        I have been an Ian Hunter fan for years. He had a wonderful speaking voice, the kind you don’t hear anymore from actors, but should. Watch for the film, “Strange Cargo” (1940) – not a run-of-the-mill production – which showed what Mr. Hunter was capable of in the role of “Verne” – a Christ-like figure in his philosophy of life. TCM shows it from time-to-time and it’s well worth seeing – also stars Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Peter Lorre. Much better than the novel upon which it’s based.

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        • I have always liked Ian Hunter as well, Nanette! Too bad he wasn’t fully appreciated in his time (the studio system didn’t help). My sister found some pictures of him at home with cats, which makes him even better to me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Nanette B. says

        Just realized I made a mistake as far as the movie “Strange Cargo” goes – Ian Hunter played “Cambreau” and not Verne (that part was played by Clark Gable).

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