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Donnie Dunagan In Son Of Frankenstein


Det Jim McLeod
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I thought Donnie Dunagan was amusing in Son Of Frankenstein, I kind of liked that he made friends with the Monster (Boris Karloff),calling him a "nice giant" 

I have an October 2004 magazine called Video Watchdog,where Dunagan gives an extensive interview about the film. He said Karloff would buy him ice cream and play checkers with him,the kid actually won some quarters. He would go to Karloff and ask him if he would pay him his money,but he (in full Monster make up) would just do the famous Monster growl "Rrrr! Rrrr!" 

He also liked Rathbone, who read him stories and poems. 

The only one he did not seem to care for was Lionel Atwill,saying "For some reason I didn't like him,I avoided him" 

He also received some autographed pictures from Karloff and Rathbone: 

For Donnie,with love from the giant!-Boris Karloff 

To Donnie,a grand actor, with love from Basil Rathbone 

 

What do you think of the film and Donnie in it?

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I find little Donnie unbearably cute and cloying in the film. Any time he's on screen I cringe.

As for his not liking Lionel Atwill there was more to the tale than that. There was a perceived ominous reason for it.

If I remember correctly the boy also had a perception that other cast members like Rathbone froze Atwill out on the set after Donnie complained about him.

To be fair to Atwill, though, while I know he was known for having o r g i e s in his home, I've never heard any any other story that he was attracted to children. This is merely the recount of one little boy. At the same time, though, you don't want to entirely dismiss it.

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6 minutes ago, TomJH said:

As for his not liking Lionel Atwill there was more to the tale than that. There was a perceived ominous reason for it.

perhaps it was just that Atwill did not like children and maybe seemed gruff and aloof. Karloff and Rathbone went out of their way to be kind and welcoming.

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7 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

perhaps it was just that Atwill did not like children and maybe seemed gruff and aloof. Karloff and Rathbone went out of their way to be kind and welcoming.

Quite the opposite. Donnie got a bad gut feeling by the way that Atwill said he wanted to be alone with him and referred to playing "little games." The little boy picked up on a perception about something "bad" about this man. We'll never know for sure.

By the way I think Atwill is wonderful in the film, Mel Brooks giving his performance further immortality with the one armed dart playing spoof scene in Young Frankenstein.

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i was searching for it the other day but could not find it, someone interviewed DUNNAGAN when he was in his 60's or 70's (and he seemed like an awesome guy btw) and he stated flat-out that ATWILL touched him inappropriately on-set and RATHBONE found out and intervened FAST. ATWILL's career slide continued (although he APPEARED in several more Universal horrors in smaller roles until he died in 1945.

As for the film SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, it's too long, the monster doesn't have much presence, RATHBONE seems enraged to even be in the movie and I don't care for the odd minimalist/expressionist sets...

BUT LUGOSI is MARVELOUS and I like the score and, awful human as he may well have been, I think ATWILL is terrific in this one.

 

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21 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

As for the film SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, it's too long, the monster doesn't have much presence, RATHBONE seems enraged to even be in the movie and I don't care for the odd minimalist/expressionist sets...

BUT LUGOSI is MARVELOUS and I like the score and, awful human as he may well have been, I think ATWILL is terrific in this one.

The film takes little long to get going, but when Ygor appears it gets better, Karloff may not have a lot to, but makes the most of the few scenes he has and it builds to a stunning climax at the sulfur pit. I have seen it countless times over the years and that helps me to overlook any draggy scenes at the beginning.

It's true Rathbone thought this was a "penny dreadful" and doesn't even mention it in his autobiography. However I thought he brought his heroic "swagger" to this part and was excellent as always. 

Lugosi and Atwill are both great as you say, two of the best parts they ever had. 

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2 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

 

It's true Rathbone thought this was a "penny dreadful" and doesn't even mention it in his autobiography. However I thought his brought his heroic "swagger" to this part and was excellent as always.

THE WORST thing you can do as an actor is be boring, and Rathbone most certainly is not boring in this.

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Everyone is great in this movie and the little boy has a good rapport on screen with all of them.

His performance is a little over the top, but there are children in real life who are similar.

 

As far as Lionel Atwill is concerned, I'm sure he didn't invite little Donnie or imply that little Donnie should attend one of his famous sexorgy parties, which more or less ended Atwill's career in the 40s after it was alleged that minor girls were in attendance.

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Dunagan had kind words for Boris Karloff. In a 2011 interview, he said "Boris Karloff was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet and he was always laughing and smiling." Karloff gave him a metal German water gun as a Christmas present in 1939. When Dunagan was tapped for the voice of the young Bambi, he got in trouble on the Disney lot for squirting people with the gun. "The studio security took it away from me one day, and 70 years later, I'm still waiting to get it back."

Dunagan also explained why he sounded so loud reciting his lines in Son of Frankenstein: "I'm born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and I had this southern accent. We were on these huge wide-open castle sets and they kept telling me how the microphones were 'way up there' and how I had to talk extra loud. ... I was not a great match to be the little boy of the very British Basil Rathbone's character."

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1 hour ago, scsu1975 said:

Dunagan had kind words for Boris Karloff. In a 2011 interview, he said "Boris Karloff was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet and he was always laughing and smiling." Karloff gave him a metal German water gun as a Christmas present in 1939. When Dunagan was tapped for the voice of the young Bambi, he got in trouble on the Disney lot for squirting people with the gun. "The studio security took it away from me one day, and 70 years later, I'm still waiting to get it back."

Dunagan also explained why he sounded so loud reciting his lines in Son of Frankenstein: "I'm born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and I had this southern accent. We were on these huge wide-open castle sets and they kept telling me how the microphones were 'way up there' and how I had to talk extra loud. ... I was not a great match to be the little boy of the very British Basil Rathbone's character."

And thus perhaps where that old saying stems from that adults will often say to a mischievous child...

"Hey, quit that, you little squirt!"

(...sorry...much too easy to pass up here) 

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Was that kid from the Deep South or what? I need to look him up on imdb. His accent sounded really out of place among all the more Brit or continental European-sounding accents. He sounded like a lot of the South Park voices. I noticed he got a lot of closeups when speaking, probably because he had fairly complex dialogue, and I'm guessing they often had to isolate him to make sure he got his lines right.

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On 10/23/2018 at 1:48 PM, scsu1975 said:

Dunagan had kind words for Boris Karloff. In a 2011 interview, he said "Boris Karloff was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet and he was always laughing and smiling." Karloff gave him a metal German water gun as a Christmas present in 1939. When Dunagan was tapped for the voice of the young Bambi, he got in trouble on the Disney lot for squirting people with the gun. "The studio security took it away from me one day, and 70 years later, I'm still waiting to get it back."

Dunagan also explained why he sounded so loud reciting his lines in Son of Frankenstein: "I'm born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and I had this southern accent. We were on these huge wide-open castle sets and they kept telling me how the microphones were 'way up there' and how I had to talk extra loud. ... I was not a great match to be the little boy of the very British Basil Rathbone's character."

Thanks for all those details!

Everyone seems to have had kind words for KARLOFF: THE UNCANNY. In all the docs and Bios I have seen everyone from CAROL BURNETT (he appeared on her show) to GLORIA STUART to ZITA JOHANN (sp?) to BELA LUGOSI JR. and numerous others have said he was a very kind and gentle guy.

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On 10/23/2018 at 10:18 AM, LornaHansonForbes said:

THE WORST thing you can do as an actor is be boring, and Rathbone most certainly is not boring in this.

I realize Rathone goes over the top in this thing, but it works. He's good. My favorite Franky flick. 

And I love the kid. "Oooo! He was a great big man with a hairy coat on."

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4 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Thanks for all those details!

Everyone seems to have had kind words for KARLOFF: THE UNCANNY. In all the docs and Bios I have seen everyone from CAROL BURNETT (he appeared on her show) to GLORIA STUART to ZITA JOHANN (sp?) to BELA LUGOSI JR. and numerous others have said he was a very kind and gentle guy.

Have you seen him on This Is Your Life? He comes across as a very humble guy. 

 

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2 hours ago, scsu1975 said:

Have you seen him on This Is Your Life? He comes across as a very humble guy. 

 

"BUT before we leave here Boris, we have one MORE person from your past to greet you. So, can you tell us who THIS person's voice belongs to?"

---"Karloff?! KARLOFF?! You don't deserve to smell my ****, you limey *********!"---

"Yes, THAT'S right Boris. That's your old friend Bela, and who's come all the way from Van Nuys on the Red Car rail line to share memories with you from those old days at the Universal lot."

 

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