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Tag Archives: Lionel Barrymore

Halloween Pictures on Tired Tuesday

My hair is actually a little shorter than this.

This is my new profile picture on Facebook.  I open today’s Tired Tuesday post with it, because, what a surprise:  I got nuthin’ else.  Of course I like having the Bride of Frankenstein as my profile pic, I’ve had it before, but I really liked this one for the saying.  I like to embrace my own imperfections.  They are what make me, me.

I don’t suppose it is October yet.

This picture has nothing to do with the preceding paragraph, but it is Halloween-ish and I have not used it before.  Also, it is Bela Lugosi.  There could be no possible objection.

My hair is more grey than this kid’s.

This must be a picture Steven downloaded at some point.  He finds the coolest stuff.  This is an appropriate picture to include here, because as soon as I hit “Publish,” I am going upstairs to read in bed before going to sleep.  I am actually not reading a ghost story.  I am quite absorbed in a biography of John Barrymore.  I am a huge fan of his brother, Lionel, and I also admire their sister, Ethel.   However, John was pretty cool too.  The next time I run in place on the mini-tramp, I may watch the silent movie, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” starring John.

At last I am over 200 words.  I’ll call that respectable for a Tired Tuesday.  I hope to see you all on Wuss-out Wednesday.

 

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Vampires and a Big Reveal

BIG Spoiler Alert! Seriously, if you’re going to watch Mark of the Vampire (1935), PLEASE do it before reading my silly write-up.

I will, in fact, try to write about this movie without giving away the big reveal, but I don’t know how successful I will be. In fact, already I’ve said too much.

In pre-movie commentary, Robert Osborne says Mark of the Vampire is a murder mystery as well as a vampire movie. I think that gives away a lot right there, and he didn’t even give a spoiler alert. Anyways, I think it is mostly a vampire movie.

The movie begins, as these things often do, with travelers being warned to go nowhere after dark. This is all we see of the travelers, so I guess those actors did not have very good agents. The vampire(s) (I don’t think people know at this point how many there are), it seems, is (are) after folks that have lived in the area for some time.

I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s very good scripting. Of course we don’t want characters reiterating to each other stuff they darn well already know. That would be like me saying to Steven, “As you know, we’re married and have a cute little dog.” However, I think there are better ways to set up background than sticking in extraneous characters we are never going to see again, just so they can get warned.

Perhaps I am too demanding. Anyways, that was an easy way to fill up a paragraph without giving away any major plot points (except to let you know you aren’t going to see those travelers again).

Bela Lugosi is the main vampire, and I wished he would have gotten more screen time. He is very mysterious and scary when he shows up, though, so that’s good. There is another, younger, girl vampire. She is spooky, but the actress does not have Lugosi’s gifts. She doesn’t act so much as walk around slowly with a completely blank look on her face. I suppose that is what the part called for and what the director told her to do, but I didn’t think she had the presence to carry if off properly. Oh well, she was young. I daresay she improved if she went on (didn’t make a note of the actress’ name).

Lionel Barrymore is a vampire expert. I just adore Lionel Barrymore. I don’t care if he puts the beautiful girl in danger to catch the vampires. That’s what a movie vampire expert is supposed to do.

Osborne warns us that nothing is as it seems, and that is pretty much the case. It is one of those movies where, after you find out the big secret, you kind of want to watch it again, to see if they were really playing fair. I’m actually pretty sure they did not play fair (I know some of you are saying, “Whatever that means”), because in post-movie commentary, Osborne tells us the actors did not know the big reveal till they actually filmed those scenes.

Since this is a personal blog, I feel free to interject here that I would be majorly ticked off at a director that played that kind of a game with me. If it is something my character knows, I certainly want to know it. If it is something my character doesn’t know, I would still prefer to know it and ACT. But that’s just me; I’m not all method like some people.

I enjoyed Mark of the Vampire. I may watch it again (perhaps when TCM shows it next October) and write another blog post from the point of view of somebody who already knows the big reveal. If I remember it.

I Hit the Road

Temperatures rose in the Mohawk Valley today, and I took advantage of it.

I was debating between running outside and trying the mini-tramp again but decided first to take my dog, Tabby for a walk. She was amenable. By amenable, of course I mean that as soon as she saw me putting my sneakers on she jumped and barked and ran towards the door. You know dogs.

We hadn’t gone half a block when I realized temperatures were delightful (relatively speaking, of course) for a run. Tabby only seemed interested in going around the block anyways. My concern was the sidewalks, which were by no means bare in all spots. As we turned up our street, though, I saw two runners coming down the street. Of course! I could run in the road! I generally prefer to run on the sidewalk, but I figured I could stick to less busy streets.

I kept on the long pants I was wearing. They are not running pants but are loose-fitting and had the advantage of being already partly dirty. I also kept on my toque and gloves. I found my long-sleeved ARMY t-shirt and switched to sports bras and a pair of winter running socks. I was set.

To run very slowly. I didn’t set out for a slow run, but it seemed that is what my body was up for. No matter, just keep going. I looked at the sidewalk and saw that for a long stretch it was completely bare. So I went on the sidewalk. Then I saw a patch where it didn’t look so good. I went back into the road. Damned if there wasn’t snow in the road too. No cars coming, run around it.

It was clear that this was going to be one of those “At least I did it” runs. Frankly, this was all right with me, since I have not been running at all lately, except for that stint on the mini-tramp the other day. I had been watching an old horror movie during that. I began to wonder how Lionel Barrymore was making out with that mad scientist’s formula.

Another good stretch of sidewalk. Must take advantage of that. Another patch of snow but it was right near somebody’s driveway. Good. I would run to that and go back into the road. A car was coming just as I got to the driveway. I stayed on the sidewalk, so as not to run right out in front of the car. Some would say I just should have stayed in the road to begin with.

Then I discovered it was not so bad running over the snow. I had to exercise caution, because you never know when there might be a patch of ice, but it was really not so bad. The warmer temperature made things a more melty than frozen. That was to the good; it takes more effort to run through stuff.

So I felt pretty good about myself that I ran. I hope the warmer temperatures last the week, so I can run outdoors again. If not, there’s always the mini-tramp and that Lionel Barrymore movie.

And I’m Still Mad About the Dog

Spoiler Alert: I am pretty much going to recount most of the plot of today’s movie. I feel no qualms of conscience in doing so, because the only reason to watch this movie is Lionel Barrymore’s performance and you can enjoy that in any case.

Calling Dr. Gillespie also stars Donna Reed as a young and beautiful girl about to graduate from some girls boarding school somewhere. At the beginning of the movie she is meeting her young man. Donna’s father has at last consented to their engagement (cue romantic sigh from Donna’s young, impressionable roommate).

The fiance wants to elope right away, but Donna’s father has stipulated that she must finish school first (Yay, Dad, insisting on education! I’m a little sorry we never meet that character).

“I always get my way,” says Fiance with that demure, psycho look you often see in these movies.

“Not this time,” Donna tells him gently. He immediately kills a perfectly nice dog with a rock.

What the hell! I saw the dog and had fears for its well-being, but I hoped the poor thing would make it to the second reel at least. Donna is also upset, but not as upset as me, because she does not immediately terminate the engagement. She asks advice of the understanding headmistress, who recommends a psychiatric evaluation. She calls Dr. Gillespie (Barrymore), in hopes that it can be done so discreetly that even the fiance doesn’t know about it.

Dr. Gillespie calls in a brilliant young surgeon on staff at the same hospital. This young man wants to branch out into psychiatry but has so far been denied by the head of the hospital. The two of them go to the girls school. While Dr. Gillespie holds court with a number of fascinated young girls, Brilliant Surgeon takes Donna and the Fiance for a walk and asks some questions so subtle even I didn’t know what he was getting at.

Dr. Gillespie, Donna and Brilliant Surgeon meet with Fiance’s parents and family doctor. Fiance might be a mental case, our heroes say. Nonsense, says Family Doctor. Who do you think the parents believe?

Luckily, another demonstration of Fiance’s mental imbalance soon follows. No animals are harmed, but he smashes the window of a toy store and wrecks a plane, muttering threats against Dr. Gillespie.

So Family Doctor prescribes a long rest and a trip somewhere. Fiance smiles charmingly from the bed and says he feels fine. He doesn’t remember anything about the dog or the toy plane. As soon as he’s left alone he smashes Donna Reed’s picture and escapes out the window.

In talking with Donna, Brilliant Surgeons realizes that what triggers Fiance’s episodes of madness is the sound of a train whistle. You know, I don’t think the Hollywood screenwriters involved ever took a psychiatry course in their lives. For one thing, I never herd another train whistle for the rest of the picture, but Fiance kills two random guys to get a hot car to impress a dime-a-dance girl he’s trying to make time with.

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that a little inconsistent? Smashing a poor dog or a shop window because you’re frustrated and hear a train whistle strikes me as a slightly different psychosis from killing people to obtain a material object. Of course, his little murder for gain in a clumsy, short-sighted act, and the police are soon after him.

Donna Reed looks out her window and screams, because the first place he heads in the school garden. Headmistress, immediately consulting via telephone with Dr. Gillespie, sends Donna to the hospital with the school chauffeur, where she will supposedly be safe. Guess where Fiance is headed.

It is a big hospital. Fiance is able to kill a doctor and steal his glasses and his identity fairly easily (we don’t find out till later the poor other doctor is dead) (and we never meet him either, which saved the producers paying another actor). My first reaction was, “Oh, great disguise. They’ll NEVER recognize you with those glasses one!” But he only runs into people who don’t know him or the dead doctor as he continues to stalk Dr. Gillespie, intent on revenge.

Donna Reed, meantime, is hiding out in Brilliant Surgeon’s office suite, which includes sleeping accommodations (she does not avail herself of the invitation to put on a hospital gown, so don’t get your hopes up) (you know who you are). How fiance figures out she’s there so he can call her is never explained, but she ends up on hand for the final confrontation.

The thing that really annoyed me was Donna’s wailing at the end, “But it wasn’t really his fault!” Three men and a dog are dead! Why are you feeling more sorry for the killer? I’m thinking she doesn’t know about the dime-a-dance girl, for one thing.

On the whole, I thought it was a pretty dumb movie. It was saved for me by Lionel Barrymore and a few of the minor characters. There are a couple of nurses he spars with, as fictional doctors and nurses tend to do. A large, kind of doofy orderly is recruited to act as his bodyguard, unbeknownst to the prickly Dr. Gillespie. I also got a few chuckles from Donna’s roommate, a budding photographer and paramour.

In closing credits they advertised another Dr. Gillespie movie. I’ll have to watch for it. I do love that Lionel Barrymore.