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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carradine's Got Another Science Project


Raising The Dead in Monogram's Basement: The Face Of Marble (1946)

John Carradine is as reasonable a mad scientist as you could hope to assist at reviving the dead, a worthy effort as he presents it even if results come a cropper. I was always one who wanted such experimentation to succeed, if only to let a little joy into lives of Carradine, Karloff, others who made up in sincerity what they lacked in sanity. The Face Of Marble uneases from an opener where a dead sailor is dragged off a beach for buzz back to life in JC's lab; this shook up Dan Mercer enough at age 10 to put him in flight for bed. I might have been similarly undone had we access to Monograms in NC markets (they'd come later after nerve for late horrors had calmed). Fans of Universal diss Mono mostly because prints are notoriously sub-par and they weren't shown as often once TV got hold of admittedly better Universal chillers, but back in 40's first-run, these cheaper creepers were all over marquees, particularly in small bergs where money (in terms of low rent of prints) mattered most. What's nutty (delightfully so) about Face Of Marble is its menace in the form of a ghost dog ambling through closed doors. His name is Brutus, a Great Dane playing himself, though unfairly not billed. Was Carradine abashed at doing these things? I'm told he worked in whatever so as to finance a Shakespeare group. How could JC know it would be lowly shockers he'd be recalled for rather than bartering the Bard? Netflix streams an old transfer of Marble from neg owner MGM --- are there no better elements around than this?

2 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer comes forward with truth of his frightful 50's encounter with "Face Of Marble":


In fairness to Dan Mercer, he was eight years old and this was his second attempt to watch a "Shock Theater" attraction. The first was "Frankenstein," where he found himself utterly unnerved by the eerie atmosphere of that classic. He spent the first half of the picture trotting back and forth between the living room where the Magnavox was and the bath room. It didn't help that horror host Zacherley would perform macabre little skits between segments, doing obscure things to a cauliflower floating in a glass bowl of water, apparently in simulation of a brain. When the hunchback began abusing the Monster with a torch, this was just too much. He fled to his bed, though not immediately to sleep, not in that darkness with those images still so fresh. He was still somewhat spooked, shall we say, when he ventured forth for "Face of Marble." As noted, he was destroyed by the opening scene. It may seem incredible that even a child could not get through the first five minutes of a Monogram feature, but this was an especially sensitive one. Look, his mother didn't even let him have comic books! She'd read Dr. Fredric Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent," and believed that they would be emotionally injurious to him. Consequently, the psychological anti-bodies he should have been developing were just not there, leaving him vulnerable even to the poverty row flicks of late night television. Yes, even to "Plan 9 from Outer Space," of all things. When Tor Johnson rose from the grave, he was just barely able to hold on. However, thanks to the beneficial ineptitude of Edward D. Wood, he got through it. It was like a vaccination, where you get just a little of what would make you sick, if you got a lot. In the case of this film, it was a very little. After that, however, he was on his way.

2:59 PM  
Blogger VP81955 said...

If I need a ghost dog, give me "Mr. Atlas" (Asta/Skippy on one of his other assignments) from the underrated "Topper Takes A Trip." OK, so it has no Cary Grant, aside from flashbacks, but Connie Bennett continues as one sexy ghost, and has delightful rapport with Roland Young. Plus, of course, there are Roy Seawright's delightful special effects.

10:07 PM  

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