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EDGAR ALLAN POE, his works and his works on film


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I'm spooky and I like literature, but oddly enough, I have never fully embraced the writing of EDGAR ALLAN POE until earlier this summer when I ordered the ILLUSTRATED JUNIOR LIBRARY EDITION of some of his stories and poems on amazon and really fell in love with the edition upon receiving it, even though it does not have any footnotes or explanations for some of the stories, which is unfortunate as this is ostensibly a book for young readers (the tales are all unabridged) and I kindasorta doubt most kids are gonna know LATIN PHRASES and QUOTES IN FRENCH and even CYRRILIC LETTERS (note, I don't even know how to spell CYRRILIC properly)

nonetheless, take a look:

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i think the reason I have never really gotten into POE heretofore is that- in spite of loving to read and loving classic literature- I HAVE NEVER BEEN A FAN OF SHORT STORIES, they always seem a little incomplete to me, and one can never make the emotional investment in them that one can in a nice, lonky 500+ page novel.

i get though that POE was not capable of writing in long form, I can only wonder what a challenge it would be not only for him to sustain a narrative for 200-400 pages, but for the reader to digest it.

(it would probably make ULYSSES look like GOODNIGHT, MOON...)

one thing I am struck by is that even though he writes in very short from, and some of his stories seem as if there needs to be more there, HE IS ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING WRITERS I HAVE COME ACROSS.

I mean, genuinely, in reading (or trying to read) THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET and THE PURLOINED LETTER, I was unaware that I would need a TEXAS INSTRUMENTS CALCULATOR to read something from ca. 1850.

seriously, POE busts out the ALGEBRA on you in those two and I was not ready.

[to be fair, I am never ready for ALGEBRA]

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For me, the MOST FILMIC of all of POE'S works is easily THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, but insofar as I know, there has never really been a version that REALLY GETS IT- CORMAN'S is so sloppy (the intriguing bit about VINCENT PRICE'S CHARACTER HYPER SENSITIVITY/POSSIBLE AUTISM) is abandoned after the intro.)

I can never get into the 1948 version.

KEN RUSSELL did one that I don't think you can see anywhere, I have a feeling it is bad.

I know NETFLIX is working on a series THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER that is gonna incorporate a lot of POE'S other stories. You may have heard about it because they sacked FRANK LANGELLA for groping his costar.

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I will go ahead and restate my oft-restated position that I HATE ROGER CORMAN AND CONSIDER HIM TO BE ONE OF THE WORST DIRECTORS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, BUT to be fair, his 1964 version of THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH is not bad at all and it works in HOP FROG (another POE story) quite cleverly.

ALSO THE TOMB OF LYGEA (sp?) isn't too bad, but I refuse to believe CORMAN had ANYTHING to do with any of the EXTERIOR or "ARTY" SHOTS, I'll bet you ANYTHING that was a second unit director.

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  • LornaHansonForbes changed the title to EDGAR ALLAN POE, his works and his works on film
2 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

(I absolutely LOVE that VINCENT put HIS PET FALCON in a TINY PHYLLIS DILLER WIG)

I don't think this has anything to do with Roger Corman or Edgar Allan Poe... But... it does involve Vincent Price and a wig.

vincentprice.jpg

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I grew up in the Bronx, not too far from Poe Cottage, which was on the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road, about five minutes walk from where my grandmother lived. Poe lived in the cottage (built around 1797) for a few years from 1846,  in what is now called Poe Park. Poe's wife Virginia died there.  So Edgar Allan Poe was a particular part of every school boy and girl's education, in my childhood.

I went to Fordham University, a Jesuit College not far from Poe Cottage. Here's a quote from Wikipedia: Poe also became friendly with the faculty at what was then St. John's College, now Fordham University.  He found the faculty to be "highly cultivated gentleman and scholars [who] smoked, drank, and played cards like gentleman, and never said a word about religion."  

So many films have been based on Poe's work, from the earliest silent (a biopic made by D.W. Griffith) on through the talkies. More about my favorites in another post. But here's something unusual:

 

 

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3 hours ago, Swithin said:

I grew up in the Bronx, not too far from Poe Cottage, which was on the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road, about five minutes walk from where my grandmother lived. Poe lived in the cottage (built around 1797) for a few years from 1846,  in what is now called Poe Park. Poe's wife Virginia died there.  So Edgar Allan Poe was a particular part of every school boy and girl's education, in my childhood.

I went to Fordham University, a Jesuit College not far from Poe Cottage. Here's a quote from Wikipedia: Poe also became friendly with the faculty at what was then St. John's College, now Fordham University.  He found the faculty to be "highly cultivated gentleman and scholars [who] smoked, drank, and played cards like gentleman, and never said a word about religion."  

So many films have been based on Poe's work, from the earliest silent (a biopic made by D.W. Griffith) on through the talkies. More about my favorites in another post. But here's something unusual:

 

 

One of the most originally unique poets who ever lived was Baudelaire.

He had the unfortunate situation of having his money controlled by a Napoleonic General, his stepfather-- A man who didn't approve of his hedonistic lifestyle. As a result, Baudelaire had to make a living in part by translating Poe for the French literati audience.

I saw some similarities in their lives--they lived out the stereotype of the ill-fated poet.

Alfred de Vigny immortalized the stereotype in his play, "Chatterton"--a fictional work, somewhat based on the real poet's life.

Swith--You must have come across Chatterton in your study of English literature.

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32 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

Swith--You must have come across Chatterton in your study of English literature.

Well, I don't want to get off topic, but since a Princess has asked, I must comply...

Another local boy (NJ/NY/Manhattan) whom we studied -- and whose work I loved -- was James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851). My favorite of his novels is The Deerslayer. As was the custom in those days, at the head of each chapter is a quote from another author, often Shakespeare, Milton, etc. At the head of Chapter XV of The Deerslayer, these words appear:

"As long as Edwarde rules thys lande,

Ne quiet you wylle know;

Your sonnes and husbandes shall be slayne;

And brookes with bloode shall flowe.

You leave youre goode and lawfulle kynge,

Whenne ynne adversitye;

Like me, untoe the true cause stycke,

And for the true cause dye.

-- Chatterton

The quote fascinated me. There was no Internet then, so I did a bit of research and discovered it was from a poem called "The Bristowe Tragedy," written in 1768 in an earlier style by Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770). I became intrigued with Chatterton and read the whole (very long) poem. The quote also made me a sympathizer of the Lancastrian cause in the Wars of the Roses, which is probably why Shakespeare's Henry VI plays are among my favorites of his works.

I've also seen the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting by Henry Wallis, "The Death of Chatterton," in the Tate Gallery.

N01685_10.jpg

 

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12 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

. . . For me, the MOST FILMIC of all of POE'S works is easily THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, but insofar as I know, there has never really been a version that REALLY GETS IT- CORMAN'S is so sloppy (the intriguing bit about VINCENT PRICE'S CHARACTER HYPER SENSITIVITY/POSSIBLE AUTISM) is abandoned after the intro.)

I can never get into the 1948 version.

KEN RUSSELL did one that I don't think you can see anywhere, I have a feeling it is bad . . .

 

FIrst, thanks for the introduction to "Cyrillic."

I was an Edgar Allan Poe enthusiast when I was a youngun, despite probably not fully understanding Poe's 19th century prose. My interest in reading Poe's works was ignited by Roger Corman's adaptations, most of which I highly regard. The Poe Pic that made a deep impression on me was Premature Burial, which my father took six-year-old/seven-year-old me to see. It was the first (and, to date, only) movie that I saw in a theatre during which the entire audience screamed (when the exhumed corpse of Guy Carrell's father is shockingly revealed). The audience's screams frightened me more than did the macabre scene itself. Later, while lying deathly still in bed, impressionable I would try to imagine the claustrophobic sensation of being buried alive.  Good times.

My father had also taken my siblings and me to see House of Usher at a drive-in (creature feature co-feature: Attack of the Giant Leeches). When Madeline Usher's bloody hand emerged from her coffin, my terrified siblings and I impulsively hopped into the front seat of my father's 1955 Plymouth Belvedere to join our parents.

House of Usher is generally regarded as Corman's masterpiece among his Poe Pix. Premature Burial, OTOH, gets short shrift primarily because Ray Milland is (wrongly, IMO) considered a poor substitute for Vincent Price. I emphatically disagree with both attitudes. For me, The Pit and the Pendulum is the apex of the Price-Corman-Matheson collaborations -- despite Richard Matheson's liberties with Poe's story -- largely because of art director Daniel Haller's superb production design. I guess if I were forced to choose a Poe story that is "the most filmic," I'd choose The Pit and the Pendulum.

Regarding Ken Russell's The Fall of the Louse of Usher, I've never seen it. As a keen admirer of Russell's flamboyant and eccentric cinema, I am interested in seeing it. As a senior citizen acutely aware that I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me, I'm not so sure that I should waste my precious time on Russell's bargain-basement turkey.

House+of+Usher+28.jpg&ehk=jhPzjMOxDlbEuAyPjO6L7JHS052cMJ2mtoSCBncBasI=&risl=&pid=ImgRaw&r=0

pitpendulum3.jpg

premature4.jpg

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2 hours ago, Swithin said:

Well, I don't want to get off topic, but since a Princess has asked, I must comply...

Another local boy (NJ/NY/Manhattan) whom we studied -- and whose work I loved -- was James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851). My favorite of his novels is The Deerslayer. As was the custom in those days, at the head of each chapter is a quote from another author, often Shakespeare, Milton, etc. At the head of Chapter XV of The Deerslayer, these words appear:

"As long as Edwarde rules thys lande,

Ne quiet you wylle know;

Your sonnes and husbandes shall be slayne;

And brookes with bloode shall flowe.

You leave youre goode and lawfulle kynge,

Whenne ynne adversitye;

Like me, untoe the true cause stycke,

And for the true cause dye.

-- Chatterton

The quote fascinated me. There was no Internet then, so I did a bit of research and discovered it was from a poem called "The Bristowe Tragedy," written in 1768 in an earlier style by Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770). I became intrigued with Chatterton and read the whole (very long) poem. The quote also made me a sympathizer of the Lancastrian cause in the Wars of the Roses, which is probably why Shakespeare's Henry VI plays are among my favorites of his works.

I've also seen the famous Pre-Raphaelite painting by Henry Wallis, "The Death of Chatterton," in the Tate Gallery.

N01685_10.jpg

 

You're a very sweet boy--it was my thesis. Someday you'll have to show me your thesis/dissertation.

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i never got into poe

he was a topic in high school. maybe i was thinking of high schoolish things. anyway, all i remember is a cask of amontillado. and price, cushing, lorre et al seemed cheesy to me at the time

but this topic seems coincidental as i was talking with a buddy and he said netflix is coming out with a series  "fall of the house of usher"

https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/news/mike-flanagans-the-fall-of-the-house-of-usher-everything-we-know-so-far-07-2022/

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One of Starz cable-TV Masters of Horror series is Stuart "Re-Animator" Gordon's version of "The Black Cat" (imagine that...an accurate version!  😛), only with the protagonist seized with evil thoughts now fictionally changed to Jeffrey Combs as a drunken Edgar Allan Poe on the decline.  (Even though the reports of Poe as a drunken sot near the end are now largely considered to be deliberate smears by a biographer who had been a longtime rival of Poe while he was alive.)

Combs made a career out of one-man Poe shows near his own end, and does a pretty amazing replication.

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I don't know enough Poe to form an opinion worth writing but two things come to mind.

In junior high, the literate girls I knew loved him. In the film version of Lolita (Kubrick's, and the scene might be in the novel, too, I can't remember) Humbert gives Lo a lesson in "the divine Edgar," which makes me wonder if Nabakov, who makes numerous references to Poe in his novel (which he'd planned to call Kingdom the Sea) noticed a similar affinity in his female classmates. 

Harold Bloom in, I think, How to Read and Why calls him "the abominable Poe" which is harsh, but Aldous Huxley wrote of Poe's "palpable vulgarity," so Bloom wasn't alone.

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12 hours ago, Swithin said:

I grew up in the Bronx, not too far from Poe Cottage,

It's one of my "things" visiting all the Poe homes in the US:  NYC, Baltimore, Richmond all have nice tours. We once drove way out of our way to Fayetteville NC to see one that turned out was a different Edgar Allan Poe!

Last time visiting family, I could not convince ANYONE to go into Boston to see the new Poe sculpture (in lieu of a house) which I think is gorgeous-

edgar-allan-poe-statue-boston-ma-TRX8JN.

8 hours ago, Swithin said:

Another local boy (NJ/NY/Manhattan) whom we studied -- and whose work I loved -- was James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)

As you may know, central NY is called the Leatherstocking Region and Cooperstown (where the baseball Hall of Fame is located) is named for J.F. Cooper.

But back to Poe- if anyone doubts the brilliant writing of Poe, I suggest reading the very first line from The Fall Of The House of Usher. It's an amazingly constructed sentence. 

It's too bad that all Poe is known for today is morbid, gory stories for the Goth crowd. He really was a gifted, if quirky writer. No movie has ever captured the true feeling of his stories, especially not Roger Corman!

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3 hours ago, Tikisoo said:

It's one of my "things" visiting all the Poe homes in the US:  NYC, Baltimore, Richmond all have nice tours. We once drove way out of our way to Fayetteville NC to see one that turned out was a different Edgar Allan Poe!

Last time visiting family, I could not convince ANYONE to go into Boston to see the new Poe sculpture (in lieu of a house) which I think is gorgeous-

, central NY is called the Leatherstocking Region and Cooperstown (where the baseball Hall of Fame is located) is named for J.F. Cooper.

But back to Poe- if anyone doubts the brilliant writing of Poe, I suggest reading the very first line from The Fall Of The House of Usher. It's an amazingly constructed sentence. 

It's too bad that all Poe is known for today is morbid, gory stories for the Goth crowd. He really was a gifted, if quirky writer. No movie has ever captured the true feeling of his stories, especially not Roger Corman!

I've mentioned that my favorite film of The Fall of the House of Usher is Ivan Barnett's 1948 (1950) British film. Although an odd treatment, I think it evokes the spirit of the story best, including the first lines: "During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit." 

When I was a kid, there was no PBS. What became our PBS station -- Channel 13 -- was a local station which had a show called "Shock-O-Rama," on which they would often show that version of Usher. It terrified me. It has a brooding quality and gave me nightmares as a child, particularly that Hag. (Remember there's a dragon in Poe's story; the Hag sort of serves that purpose, in this film).

(Btw, Tiki, I went to a cousin's wedding in Cooperstown, on a beautiful day a few years ago. It was an outdoor wedding on the grounds of the Otesaga. On the day after the wedding, my whole family took a trip on "Lake Glimmerglass." )

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MV5BYmIxZmFlNWEtNjllZS00ZTA2LThkNWItYWUz

Fall+OT+House+O+Usher+%252750+%252843%25

Fall+OT+House+O+Usher+%252750+%252875%25

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1 hour ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

My favorite Poe story -The Tell Tale Heart

My favorite Poe poem-The Raven

My favorite movie based on Poe-The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)

THE TELL-TALE HEART is EXCELLENT but the writer in me feels that it NEEDS MORE (all told, it's really no more than 5 pages in length, depending on the format). I understand that its abridgement, its abbreviation, its lack of details leads us to fill them in with our minds (a cornerstone of horror) but I want more. 

For me, his best short story is THE MASQUE OF RED DEATH, which honestly, reads almost like an Idyll (before the horrific  ending) or an Epic, lyric poem.

I am not a fan of poetry, but I really, really like his poem ALONE.

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8 hours ago, EricJ said:

 (Even though the reports of Poe as a drunken sot near the end are now largely considered to be deliberate smears by a biographer who had been a longtime rival of Poe while he was alive.)

I know, I came across this revelation on reading up on EDGAR ALLAN POE this summer...I was initially a little dismayed to find out that he was possibly a mild-mannered, petty and moody "MR CELLOPHANE" of sorts and not the raging laudanum-addicted maniac he hath been drawn as, but then I realized that actually makes perfect sense.

(HP LOVECRAFT was apparently much the same sort of person.)

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7 hours ago, miltk said:

i never got into poe

 

7 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

I don't know enough Poe to form an opinion worth writing but two things come to mind.

one thing that might help if you are interested in revisiting some of the POE stories- because I know they really are HEAVY, cryptic, challenging reading experiences [even the short ones]-  would be to listen to them READ AS AUDIOSTORIES on YOUTUBE, there are a lot to choose from by many famous names, BUT I LIKE THE ONES READ BY CHRISTOPHER LEE.

(They're great to listen to in the car, riding slow with the windows down and the volume blasting.)

 

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