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Enjoy Bela alternating comedy and menace in SCARED TO DEATH


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Dewey, my friend, I just LOVE it! I had recently seen this unbelievable Lugosi sanitarium interview last week as I was perusing YouTube, and I was knocked out by it -- I couldn't believe Lugosi was so articulate, but, apparently he'd been speaking English (or, the equivalent of it) since about 1929; he used to bemoan the fact in interviews: "I cannot speak this horrible language" (well, he got THAT right) and actually learned his lines phonetically for his first stage version of DRACULA.. He apparently could understand and speak it more fluently than he ever let on, although everything he says, even the simplest words, sound like a mouthful.

 

Ah, Bela, Bela.

 

(I actually met his son in Los Angeles in the late seventies, in his law office! And there's even an interview with Junior on YouTube! Looks just like the old man, but without the charisma)

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Hi, nightwalker!

 

LOL, I think I saw VOODOO MAN only once, about 30 years or so ago, and I vaguely recall Zucco and Lugosi wearing funny looking voodoo headgear and chanting. Yes, "Ramboona" in Lugosi's voice would be truly an unforgettable experience, like his "Baloney" in the '34 THE BLACK CAT.

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Wow, Bronxie, where do you find these things?

 

What's next, Woody Allen in the Herbert Marshall part in a remake of TROUBLE IN PARADISE, or as Cary Grant in BRINGING UP BABY (actually, he might could do that) or possibly, CHARADE or THE AWFUL TRUTH?

 

The mind boggles.

 

And yes, that clip was right up there with Joe and Half-Pint.

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  • 2 months later...

For all of you who saw SCARED TO DEATH for the first time today, might you agree with me that Nat Pendleton here is THE DUMBEST COP IN THE HISTORY OF THE MOVIES?

 

He shoots a mannikin thinking it's a human being. He hopes and prays that someone will be a murder victim so that he can claim the glory of an arrest and be promoted.

He moons over the housemaid and promises her infinite wealth, despite the traditional low pay of a public servant. He makes insensitive remarks to "Indigo" the dwarf, calling him a monkey. He never knows what the hell is going on at any given moment and makes unfunny jokes throughout.

When his ladylove, whom he previously has declared his devotion, is apparently killed, he casually totes her stiff body around like the laundry. We are told he previously shot a mannikin thinking it was a human being, and was kicked off the force; now he is hoping and praying that someone -- anyone -- will be a murder victim so he can arrest the perp, claim the glory, and be not only back in the good graces of the men in blue, but actually given a promotion. (Yeah, right, like that's gonna happen)

 

If the totally annoying Mr. Nat doesn't drive you up the wall, the clumsy back-and-forth corpse-narration (actually always consisting of a single sentence) and it's headache-inducing repetitive "eerie" musical chord certainly will.

 

This is filmed in "natural color" but the spectrum keeps switching every five seconds -- George Zucco's office is royal blue in one scene, then a sort of acquamarine the next. Lily-Beth the maid's uniform also undergoes a similiar transformation from room to room. Even the disembodied mask gets mood-ring changes. In the rest of the house, the color (and the furniture) seems faded and drab, like Cabanne's plodding, lackluster direction. You just wait for it to be over.

 

This could have been a nifty and intriguing little mystery-horror in black and white, without the comedy relief and without this cast. The story, with floating masks, betrayal, hypnotism, and revenge, could have been made as a satisfactory Charlie Chan entry (and at least with Mantan Moreland, there'd be GOOD comedy relief) or even perhaps as a Peter Lorre vehicle.

 

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BG, "dumbest cop"... yes. "Not that there's anything wrong with that!" ha ha

 

This is one of those films whose appearance on DVD - as limited in quality as it is - still gives me hopes that thousands more of these little gems will be issued to us collectors.

 

Thanks for bringing up this film.

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Lastly, for me, the most annoying non-comedic dumb cop in the movies has to be Bob Murphy.

 

According to IMDB, he plays the cop who arrests Nora Charles & David Graham (Myrna Loy & James Stewart) right after the murder of Alan Marshall on New Year's Eve in AFTER THE THIN MAN (1936).

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nightwalker, you've opened up a good thread topic, Dumb Cops; I love it.

 

Dumber than Costello; that's REALLY DUMB! (haven't seen WHO DONE IT? in a long time)

 

Dennis Hoey of course played second fiddle to Sherlock Holmes, but didn't he as the Inspector also fade into the background as Dr. Mannering (Patric Knowles) takes an unexplained interest in Chaney and follows him around the country iin FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN? Mannering practically plays detective tracking him down. I wonder what his patients back at the hospital thought. Did a nurse tell them, "The doctor can't see you for a month or so. He's on the trail of the Wolfman".

 

I actually had hoped there really were stupider policemen than Nat in SCARED TO DEATH, and you've given me a nice list. (haven't seen the others).

 

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btw, for another kind of horror, I caught some of THE RIVER'S EDGE with Ray Milland for the first time.

 

If you can imagine suave Ray saying corny hard-boiled lines (in 1957 yet) like "Well, sweetheart, that's how it goes. You gotta play the cards as they fall" and, (coming upon intense man-of-the-people Anthony Quinn getting cozy with beautiful Debra Paget in a cave) "Well, excuse me, I didn't know this was a hotel room".

 

Ray gets a little loose with his gun.

 

Why didn't he take aim at the script? (good premise though)

 

Is this it -- Ray's worst performance, and is he at his most miscast??

 

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