Monday, October 19, 2020

Evelyn Ankers and Her 1940's Horror Films From Universal Pictures

Evelyn Felisa Ankers fell in love with a werewolf and was a descendant of Frankenstein's ghost. This is a look at a demure young woman who was a leading lady in the 1940's Horror of Universal Pictures.

On August 17, 1918, Evelyn Felisa Ankers, was born to British parents, but in Valparaiso, Chile. Her elementary schooling was at "The Latymer School", Edmonton, North London, England. Her higher education started at "The Golophyn (Godolphin) School" for girls in Salisbury, England. She then attended both the "Tacchomo School of Music and Dramatic Art (now the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art)" and the "Royal Academy of Dramatic Art" in London.

As would be expected Evelyn made her motion picture debut in the United Kingdom. Her first 12 on-screen appearances were in motion pictures made in the England. Her first was an uncredited role as a "Lady of the Court" in 1936's "Forbidden Music" and her last in this group was another uncredited role as a "Sanitarium Patient" in 1939's "Over the Moon" starring Merle Oberon and Rex Harrison. With the blitz starting in England, Evelyn Ankers joined the exodus to the United States and eventually Hollywood and a contract with Universal Pictures.

Her first American film starred "Baby Sandy". She was actually Sanda Lee Henville, the studio's answer to Shirley Temple, and the picture was 1941's "Bachelor Daddy". Evelyn Ankers had 5th billing as "Beth Chase". This was followed by 1941's "Hit the Road" with the popular "Dead End Kids" and Gladys George and Barton MacLane. In that feature filmEveyln Ankers had 8th billing as "Patience Ryan".

Then came Evelyn Ankers first Universal Pictures Horror movie, or was it?

HOLD THAT GHOST released August 1, 1941

This Universal entry is described as either a Horror-Comedy, or a Horror-Comedy-Adventure. Make your choice, or add one of your own. Because, as my reader will discover, not all of Universal Picture's described Horror movies, with Ankers, seemed like a Horror movie in the true sense.

The director was Arthur Lubin and Universal Pictures put him in charge of their new Comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. "Hold That Ghost" was Lubin's second motion picture with the duo. Their first, third and fourth movies are also from 1941. Those titles are "Buck Privates", "In the Navy" and "Keep Them Flying". Lubin last film with the Comedy team was 1942's "Ride 'Em Cowboy".

Arthur Lubin also directed two classic entries in Universal's Horror genre, "Black Friday" co-starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in 1940 and 1943's "Phantom of the Opera" starring Claude Rains. 

The screenplay for "Hold That Ghost" was by three Universal Pictures contract writers. They were Robert Lees, the 1941 "The Black Cat" and 1948's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", Frederic I. Rinaldo, the same two films plus the 1940 Comedy "The Invisible Woman", and John Grant, the primary writer for the Abbott and Costello features. Grant wrote 27 of them between 1941 and 1955 including the four Horror entries.

The Main Cast:

Bud Abbott portrayed "Chuck Murray".

Lou Costello portrayed "Ferdinand 'Ferdie' Jones".

Richard Carlson portrayed "Dr. Jackson". Carlson had just appeared in 1941's "West Point Widow" with Anne Shirley and Richard Denning. After this picture he would be seen in playwright Lillian Hellman's 1941 "The Little Foxes" starring Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall.

My article "Richard Carlson the Academic Turn Actor" can be found at:

Joan Davis portrayed "Camille Brewster". Davis was a comedic actress that would have her own television series "I Married Joan" with Jim Backus from 1952 through 1955. From the late and 1930's through the 1940's,  Davis was heard on major radio programs such as "Jack Benny". Besides this film, Joan Davis was in the 1937 Musical "Sing and Be Happy" with popular singer Tony Martin, in 1938 she was in the Comedy-Musical "My Lucky Star" with Olympic Skater Sonja Henie and Richard Greene, and in 1940 there was the serious drama, "Free, Blonde and 21", co-starring with Lynn Bari and Mary Beth Hughes.

Mischa Auer portrayed "Gregory". Mostly known as the "Russian Stereo Type" was dramatic actor and comedian Auer. Among his varied motion pictures are the 1932 version of James Fennimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans" starring Harry Carey Sr., Cecil B. DeMille's 1935 "The Crusades",  the William Powell and Carole Lombard 1936 "My Man Godfrey", director Frank Capra's 1938 "You Can't Take It with You" and the Marlene Dietrich and Bruce Cabot 1941 "The Flame of New York". Auer was also in the 1945 version of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None".

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Norman Lind".

Above Richard Carlson, Evelyn Ankers, Bud Abbott, Joan Davis and Lou Costello

The Screenplay:

"Chuck" and "Ferdie" are gas station attendants that dream of bigger things for themselves. They work as temporary waiters at the "Chez Glamour". Which was really a plot trick to pit on screen performances from the 1940's band leader Ted Lewis and the singing Andrews Sisters.

The Bud and Lou get themselves into trouble as waiters and are fired by maitre d' "Gregory". Another plot trick to get the boys back to the real story line after the Ted Lewis and Andrew Sisters performances.

Back at the gas station gangster "Moose Mattson", played by William B. Davidson, stops for gas and service. Based upon what a full service station was back in the 1940's. Both "Chuck" and "Ferdie" are partly inside "Moose's" car when the police show up and a gun fight begins. "Moose" attempts to escape in his car and the boys are caught inside it. The gangster is killed and according to his strange will. Anyone who was with him at his death inherits his estate. As a result, "Chuck" and "Ferdie" have inherited "Mattson's" run down tavern, "The Forester Club", that is said to have a fortune hidden within it. The clue to the fortune is he kept his money in his head

"Mattson's" attorney introduces the two to one of "Moose's" associates "Charlie Smith", played by Marc Lawrence. Who, unknown to "Chuck" and "Ferdie", is a member of the original gang and after the money. "Charlie" arranges for the two to go on a bus with him to the rural property. There are three other passengers, a radio star "Camille Brewster", a doctor named "Jackson" and the waitress "Norma Lind". 

The bus arrives at "The Forester Club" in a heavy storm and the bus driver, being paid by "Charlie", abandon's the six. They have no choice, but to enter the club.

"Charlie Smith" disappears while he was exploring the basement. Then his body starts to show up and disappear throughout the night. The water is undrinkable and when "Ferdie" goes to bed in his room it transforms itself into a casino, but no one believes him.

Then two detectives show up investigating "Moose's" death, but also disappear. "Camille" and "Norma" are frightened by what appears to be a ghost. More of the old gang start showing up looking for the hidden treasure. While "Dr. Jackson" and "Norma Lind" are becoming an item, but somebody is trying to kill everyone.

In the end Bud and Lou scare off the gangsters and find the money hidden in a moose's head. "Dr. Jackson" discovers that the undrinkable water has therapeutic properties and the boys turn the tavern into a health spa with performances for their guest by Ted Lewis and the Andrew Sisters of course.

Evelyn Ankers actually moved to a co-starring role in her next motion picture "Burma Convoy" with Charles Bickford.

However, it was Ankers 5th and final feature for 1941 that she would forever be associated with.

THE WOLF MAN released December 9, 1941

The motion picture was directed by George Waggner. Except for one Foreign Legion adventure film, between 1938 and 1941, Waggner directed "B" Westerns for the studio. In 1941 he became a "B" Horror film director with the Lionel Atwill and Lon Chaney "Man Made Monster" and the misleadingly titled "Horror Island" with Dick Foran and Leo Carrillo. The later being a "Hold That Ghost" style Murder-Comedy.

The feature film was written by Curt Siodmak. Who also came up with the famous lines about the full moon and a pure-at-heart man, becoming wolf during the full moon. Although film historians still argue the it was a real European folk legend he copied. At this point Siodmak had written the 1940's screenplays for "The Invisible Man Returns", "Black Friday", "The Ape" and "The Invisible Woman". He would work also for producer Val Lewton on the classic 1943 "I Walked with a Zombie" and turn a joke of his into 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" for Universal.

My article about Curt and his Film-Noir director brother Robert, they both worked on Universal's 1943 "Son of Dracula", entitled "CURT and ROBERT SIODMAK: Horror and Film Noir" is at:

The make-up was by Universal Pictures Jack Pierce. Pierce created Boris Karloff's make-ups for the "Frankenstein Monster" and both "The Mummy" in its wrappings and its counterpart "Imhotep". As famous as Pierce would be associated with the classic Universal Pictures Monsters. He would be dumped by the new owners of the studio and reduced to low budget Science Fiction like 1957's "The Brain from Planet Arous". 

My article "Jack P. Pierce the Man Who Created Monsters" is found at:

The Main Cast:

Lon Chaney portrayed "Lawrence 'Larry' Talbot". In 1941 between "Man Made Monster" and this motion picture. Contract actor Lon Chaney, Jr., still billed as such at times, was in one Musical-Comedy and four "B" Westerns.

My article on the actor "Lon Chaney, Jr.: Of Mice and Werewolves" may be read at:

Claude Rains portrayed "Sir John Talbot". Rains first major role, James Whale's 1933 version of H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man", never showed him until the end and he was dead. In 1938 Claude Rains was "Prince John" in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and in 1939 he portrayed "Napoleon III" in "Juarez" starring Paul Muni and Bette Davis, 

Warren William portrayed "Dr. Lloyd". William was the first actor to portray Earle Stanley Gardner's lawyer "Perry Mason" in a series of motion pictures. He also portrayed author Louis Joseph Vance's jewel-thief turned detective "Michael Lanyard" "The Lone Wolf" in another series of motion pictures. In 1939 William portrayed "D'Artagnan" in director James Whale's still excellent version of Alexander Dumas' "The Man in the Iron Mask".

Ralph Bellamy portrayed "Colonel Paul Montford". Bellamy was a solid supporting actor and would portray co-authors Frederic Dannay and Manifred Bennington Lee's character, "Ellery Queen", in a series of motion pictures. However, it would be Bellamy's portrayal of "President Franklin Delano Roosevelt" in both the stage and 1960 film version of "Sunrise at Campobello" that he is remember for. Bellamy would recreate the role in two major television min-series, 1983's "The Winds of War" and 1988's "War and Remembrance". Both were based upon two of author Herman Wouk's best selling novels.

Patric Knowles portrayed "Frank Andrews". Knowles was also a solid supporting actor and some of his films include 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and the excellent original 1939 "Five Came Back" starring Chester Morris and Lucille Ball. For Universal Pictures, Patric Knowles was "Dr. Frank Mannering" in 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" and was seen in the 1946 Bob Hope Comedy "Monsieur Beaucaire".

Bela Lugosi portrayed "Bela". Prior to this picture, 1941 was a mixed bag for Lugosi. There was Monogram Pictures "The Invisible Ghost", there was Universal Pictures Comedy-Horror version of his original 1935 straight Horror film "The Black Cat", and a Monogram Picture Comedy-Horror film "Spooks Run Wild" starring "The East Side Kids'". Who were previously were called "The Dead End Kids" and would have another name change to "The Bowery Boys".

Maria Ouspenskaya portrayed "Maleva". Born in Tula, of the then Russian Empire, in 1876, Ouspenskaya started her film career in Russian movies in 1915, before coming to the United States in 1920. However, it would be 16 years later, after learning to speak English, before she appeared in an English language motion picture. Which was director William "Billy" Wyler's 1936 version of Sinclair Lewis' "Dodsworth" starring Walter Huston. Between that year and this film, Ouspenskaya appeared in motion pictures starring Greta Garbor and Charles Boyer, Mickey Rooney, Edgar G. Robinson, Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor and Margaret Sullivan and James Stewart.

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Gwen Conliffe". 

The Screenplay:

In an unspecified year in the early 20th Century, "Lawrence Talbot", after hearing of his brother's death returns to the ancestral home in Llanwelly, Wales, to reconcile with his estranged father "Sir John Talbot". 

One morning looking through a telescope, in his ancestral home, "Larry" sees a beautiful young woman working in an antique store in the small town. He decides to walk over and meets "Gwen Confliffe".


Asking, if she can help him. "Larry" starts looking at walking sticks and fines a cane with the figurehead of a wolf all in silver. "Gwen" explains to him the legend attached to the image and the pentagram on its end.


For the first time in the story we hear the poem: 

Even a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night;

May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

"Larry" asks "Gwen" to go out with him to the Gypsy camp outside of town that night. She accepts, but on the condition that they meet and take her friend "Jenny", played by Fay Helm, along. At the camp "Jenny" has her fortune told by "Bela" and will be killed by a wolf.

"Larry" uses his cane to kill the animal that attacked "Jenny", but it bites him. "Larry's" father, "Dr. Lloyd" and police chief "Colonel Monford" all believe that in the confusion he accidently killed "Bela" the gypsy. 

When "Larry" attempts to show them the bite marks on his chest they're gone, but he insists his story is true. "Larry Talbot" goes to the gypsy camp to speak to "Maleva" their Queen. He learns that "Bela" was her son and she thanks him for putting him out his torment, but now that "Larry Talbot" has lived. He will also become a werewolf at the next full moon. "Larry" is also told that the pentagram on his cane will appear on his victims hands and he will have no control of the urge to kill whomever it is.

That night "Lawrence Talbot" becomes "The Wolf Man" and kills a grave yard attendant and his real torment begins.

Still, no one except "Maleva" will believe "Larry" and he tells "Gwen". Only to discover that 'Gwen Concliffe" is his next victim. 

This will lead to the climax of the story with his father leading a group of men hunting for the wolf. The film will end with "Sir John Talbot" killing his own son, 'Lawrence Talbot", with the silver headed cane.

In January of 1942 Evelyn Ankers shared top billing with Broderick Crawford and Andy Devine in a film loosely based upon a story by author Jack London "North to the Klondike". Lon Chaney had 4th billing behind Devine. Then the actress and Chaney were reunited with Bela Lugosi and Ralph Bellamy.

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN released March 13, 1942

Director Erle C. Kenton had started in 1919, but in 1932, for Paramount Pictures, he made his first Horror movie. The picture was "Island of Lost Souls" starring Charles Laughton as H.G. Wells' "Dr. Moreau". The screenplay was by Science Fiction novelist Philip Wylie's, 1933's "When Worlds Collide", and the uncredited make-ups were by Charles Gemora and Wally Westmore. The movie was released and immediately was banned throughout the United States and most of Europe.

Kenton had directed "North to the Klondike" and for Universal Pictures would go on to direct both 1944's "House of Frankenstein" and 1945's "House of Dracula". 

The original story for the motion picture came from Eric Taylor. Among his films are 1940's "Black Friday" and several of Ralph Bellamy's "Ellery Queen" series. Taylor co-wrote, in 1943, the screenplay for "The Phantom of the Opera" and would write the screenplay, based upon Curt Siodmak's story, for the "Son of Dracula".

The actual screenplay for this featur was written by Scott Darling. Darling started writing screenplays of every genre in 1914. He worked on both the "Charlie Chan" and "Mr. Moto" series, but this film and the 1944 "Inner Sanctum Franchise" feature, "Weird Woman", are the only Horror stories Scott Darling was associated with.

The Main Cast:

Lon Chaney portrayed "The Monster". Chaney was the first of only three other actors to play the Universal Pictures character created by Boris Karloff. 

Sir Cedric Hardwicke portrayed "Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein". Hardwicke had just been seen in RKO Pictures "Valley of the Sun" co-starring Lucille Ball, in one of her dramatic roles, and James Craig. After this picture he portrayed a Nazi agent, with 4th billing, in Universal Pictures 1942 "Invisible Agent" starring Jon Hall.

Ralph Bellamy portrayed "Erik Ernst". For Bellamy "The Wolf Man" had proceeded this feature and it was followed by a Romantic-Comedy, 1942's "Lady in a Jam", co-starring Irene Dunne and Patric Knowles.

Lionel Atwill portrayed "Doctor Theodore Bohmer". Atwill had co-starred with Fay Wray in the first two all Technicolor Horror movies, 1932's "Dr. X" and 1933's "Mystery of the Wax Museum" that would be remade in 3-D as 1953's "House of Wax". In 1935 Atwill was in director Todd Browning's remake, "Mark of the Vampire", of his lost 1927 silent film "London After Midnight" starring Lon Chaney, Sr. Just before this picture Lionel Atwill was seen in 1942's "The Mad Doctor of Market Street" and would follow the film with 1942's "The Strange Case of Dr. RX".

Bela Lugosi portrayed "Ygor". The role he created in 1939's "Son of Frankenstein". Just before this picture, Bela was in another Monogram low budget thriller, 1942's "Black Dragons", and would follow that movie with yet another Monogram, 1942's "The Corpse Vanishes".

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Elsa Frankenstein". Ankers would follow this feature film with 1942's "Eagle Squadron" starring Robert Stack and Diana Barrymore. Evelyn Ankers had 6th billing. That war movies screenplay was based upon a short story, that appeared in "Cosmopolitan Magazine", by British author C.S. Forester, the "Horatio Hornblower" Napoleonic War novels and "The African Queen" 


The Screenplay:

The first thing the audience discovers, which was unnamed in the previous three motion pictures, is the village is named "Frankenstein". The residents believe they're under a curse and the Mayor permits them to burn down "Castle Frankenstein". Later, the shepherd "Ygor", roaming through the ruins, discovers the monster caked in sulfur from the pit he fell into at the end of 1939's "Son of Frankenstein".

The monster is of course alive and is struck by a bolt of lightening. "Ygor" decides to take it to the "Second Son of Henry Frankenstein", "Ludwig". A character never mentioned in the 1939 movie as existing.

"Ludwig Frankenstein" has a practice in Visaria with his two assistants "Dr. Kettering", played by Barton Yarborough, and "Dr. Theodore Bohmer". "Bohmer" was "Ludwig's" teacher, but is now very envious and looking for a way to out do his student. 

"Ludwig" has a full-grown daughter, "Elsa". Who is in love with the village Prosecutor "Erik Ernst". 

"Ygor" and the monster arrive and go into hiding until they can meet "Dr. Frankenstein". However, the monster gets out and behinds a little girl, "Cloestine Hussman", played by Janet Anne Gallow. This is somewhat like its friendship with "Peter von Frankenstein", played by Donnie Dunagan, in "Son of Frankenstein".


"Cloestine" was playing with a ball and it landed upon a nearby roof top. The monster picks her up to help the girl get the ball and kills two villagers who intervein with him.

After retrieving the ball and bringing the girl down from the roof top. The monster very tenderly returns "Cloestine" to her father. The monster is immediately captured and chained. "Erik Ernst" brings "Cloestine" to the monster to see how he will react and sees how tender he is toward her.

Next, "Erik" goes to "Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein" to come to the jail and examine "The Giant" and then leaves. "Ygor" now appears at "Ludwig's" and reveals that "The Giant" is really his father's creation and wants "DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN" to heal the monster and its brain and, if not, "Ygor" will reveal "Ludwig's" ancestry. "Ludwig" and "Ygor" go to see "The Giant". There "Ludwig" acts like he doesn't recognize the monster and in a rage the monster breaks free and in the following confusion is lead away by "Ygor".


Back at the at "Frankenstein Place", "Elsa" discovers her grandfather's journals and learns her heritage.

The monster and "Ygor" are next seen by "Elsa" at the window of the room she reading in and is frightened by them. 

The two now break into "Ludwig's" laboratory and kill "Dr. Kettering" in the process.

"Ludwig" is both intrigued and concerned about bringing the monster back to full strength. Enter "The Ghost of Frankenstein"! Which is not the monster as many presumed by the posters and trailers, but Colin Clive as the now long dead "Henry Frankenstein"This is accomplished by using stock footage from the original 1931 and 1935's motion pictures. The voice used is that of Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Dad suggests putting a "Good Brain", seems we've heard that before, into the monster. "Ludwig Frankenstein" decides to use "Kettering's".

Meanwhile, "Erik" and some police officers have come to "Ludwig's" to inquire about "The Giant" and if he knows where it is? Apparently, "Cloestine" is missing and after "Erik" and the police leave the monster reveals itself with the girl.

However, "Ludwig" is able to talk the monster into giving him and "Elsa" the "Cloestine". The monster wanted her brain in his body.

"Dr. Bohmer" has found a way to get back at his student. He agrees to place "Ygor's" brain in the monster and replaces "Ketterings" in the container "Ludwig" had placed it.

Thereby, making "Ludwig Frankenstein" think they are still using "Dr. Kettering's" brain for the surgery.

"Closetine's" father and other villagers are heading for "Ludwig's" home, because he thinks his daughter is being held against her will there.

"Erik" arrives after the surgery has been completed to warn "Ludwig" and get "Elsa" to safety. Outside, the villagers are almost at the house. As the monster gets up and starts to speak, "Ludwig" is shocked to hear "Ygor's" voice.

The monster now tells "Bohmer" to fill the house with gas to kill the villagers. "Ludwig Frankenstein" attempts to stop the monster, but it mortally wounded. Suddenly, the monster goes blind and panics. The dying "Ludwig" tells it that "Ygor's" blood type wasn't carpetable to him and that was why he wasn't going to do the brain transplant. In a rage the monster kills "Dr. Bohmer" by tossing him against an electrical panel that causes a fire.

 As the house burns "Elsa" and "Erik" leave to start their own life.

In July Universal Pictures loaned Evelyn Ankers to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for 7th billing in a forgotten movie "Pierre of the Plains" starring John Carroll, Ruth Hussey and Bruce Cabot. 

On September 6, 1942 Evelyn Ankers married actor Richard Denning. It would only be her death that ended their 43-year marriage together. Below is a French newspaper photo announcing the two actor's marriage.


While Evelyn made Horror movies in the 1940's. Her husband would make Science Fiction movies in the 1950's.

Below is a link to my article "Richard Denning: His Science Fiction and Horror Movies":

Next, Evelyn Ankers met "Sherlock Holmes".




This was the first of 12 feature films made by Universal Pictures. The series reunited the 20th Century Fox team of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

This feature was directed by John Rawlins. Who started out in 1932 and over his career was an actor, a stunt man, a gag writer, an assistant director and finally a  "B" director.

Not counting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the source material. It took three screenplay writers to put this script together. Lynn Riggs rarely wrote screenplays as he was both an author and playwright. His play "Green Grow the Lilacs" would become the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Oklahoma". In 1936 Riggs was one of the writers for Cecil B. DeMille's "The Plainsman". In all between 1931 and 1959 Lynn Riggs worked on only 8 screenplays.

John Bright started screenplay writing by co-authoring director William Wellman's 1931 "Public Enemy" introducing James Cagney. After which Bright basically wrote only crime screenplays.

Robert Hardy Andrews adapted and updated the Conan Doyle story "His Last Bow". Andrews would adapt other works into "B" Pictures and would move into television in the same capacity.

The Cast:

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". Rathbone was just seen in the 1942 Film-Noir "Crossroads" starring William Powell and Hedy Lamarr. He would follow this picture with two more "Sherlock Holmes" entries.

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. Watson". Bruce had just been seen in the aforementioned "Eagle Squadron". In 1935 he portrayed "Holly" in Merian C. Cooper's version of H. Rider Haggard's "SHE". Take a look at that film and that role and you'll be pressed not to see Nigel Bruce's "Dr. John H. Watson". A character Bruce first portrayed in 20th Century Fox's version of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" four years later.

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Kitty".

Note these were not period pieces like the two 20th Century Fox features and were updated to World War 2 England. However, the picture starts out with a nod to the original characters. As "Holmes" picks up a "Deerstalker Cap" to wear and "Watson" gets him to change it to a modern fedora. 

Reginald Denny portrayed "Sir Evan Barham". Starting in 1915, Denny became the image of either the perfect British gentleman, or British Military Man throughout his film career.

Thomas Gomez portrayed "Meade". This was the actor's first motion picture and others would include 1942's "Pittsburgh" starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne, 1944's "The Climax" starring Boris Karloff from a Curt Siodmak screenplay, and 1948's "Key Largo" starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall.

Henry Daniell portrayed "Anthony Lloyd". Daniell was a busy character actor and villain. He had appeared in the Bette Davis and Errol Flynn 1939 "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex", Flynn's 1940 "The Sea Hawk", the same years Charlie Chaplin parody of Adolph Hitler "The Great Dictator", and an episode of the "Michael Shayne" series starring Lloyd Nolan. In 1945 he would co-star with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in producer Val Lewton's classic version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body Snatcher" directed by Robert Wise.

                                     Above Henry Daniell, Nigel Bruce and Reginald Denny.

The Screenplay:

"Sherlock Holmes" is called to the "Inner-Circle" of British Intelligence by "Sir Evan Barham". "Barham" wants his assistance in stopping Nazi saboteurs operating in Great Britain. Their activities are announced on the radio by somebody calling himself "The Voice of Terror". So begins a routine "B" spy thriller.

One of "Holmes'" operatives is "Gavin", played by Robert Barton. He's stabbed with a "German dagger", but before he dies. "Gavin" is able to tell "Sherlock Holmes" one word "Christopher". Now, with "Watson", the two go to the Limehouse District of London and meet "Gavin's" wife "Kitty".

"Holmes" informs the "Inner Council" of his initial findings. He has determined that the "Voice of Terror" is recorded in London onto a record that is sent to Germany to be broadcasted back to Great Britain. 

Using a tip from "Kitty", "Holmes" and "Watson" go to the "Christopher Docks". 

Unknown to "Holmes" and "Watson", "Anthony Lloyd", a member of the council has followed them and all three are captured by "Meade". However, some of the dock workers are able to free the three as "Meade" escapes by speedboat.

Now, "Kitty" becomes a spy for "Sherlock Holmes" and pretends to be a thief to join "Meade's" group.


Everything comes to a head and at the climax and the "Voice of Terror" is revealed to be "Sir Evan Barham". Who really is an imposter that had killed the real "Sir Evan".

Two forgotten films followed and then the new owners of the studio "Universal Pictures Company, Incorporated" released:

CAPTIVE WILD WOMEN released June 4, 1943

The motion picture was directed by Edward Dmytryk. This feature was made during Dmytryk's "B" picture period. Among his work was 1940's "Mystery Sea Raider" starring Carole Landis and Henry Wilcoxon, 1941's "The Devil Commands" starring Boris Karloff and 1943's forgotten, but excellent, "Hitler's Children" starring "B" Cowboy actor Tim Holt and Bonita Granville. Then after this picture Dmytryk's name would be on 1945's "Back to Baatan" starring John Wayne and Anthony Quinn, 1953's "The Juggler" starring Kirk Douglas, 1954's "The Cain Mutiny" starring Humphrey Bogart and the 1957 Civil War Era epic "Raintree County" starring Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Eva Marie Saint.

The original story concept was by Ted Fithian in his only motion picture credit and Neil P. Varnick. Who only had two more film credits than Fithian, but one was 1942's "The Mummy's Tomb".

The screenplay was co-written by Henry Sucher. Sucher wrote the actual screenplay for "The Mummy's Tomb" and 1944's "The Mummy's Ghost". His co-screenplay writer was Griffin Jay. Jay wrote two great non-Universal Horror films,  1943's "The Return of the Vampire" and 1944's "Cry of the Werewolf".

The Cast:

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Beth Colman". 

Milburn Stone portrayed "Fred Mason". Stone would be known as "Doc Adams" on television's "Gunsmoke" from 1955 through 1975. Among his films prior to this picture are John Ford's 1939 "Young Mr. Lincoln", Cecil B. DeMille's 1942 "Reap the Wild Wind" and the same years "The Invisible Agent".

                                  Above Evelyn Ankers and Milburn Stone

John Carradine portrayed "Dr. Sigmund Walters". Illustrating the type of roles Carradine was being cast in at the time are the following two examples. Right before this picture was 1943's "I Escaped from the Gestapo" with the actor as a Nazi Gestapo officer. Then immediately after "Captive Wild Woman" was 1943's "Hitler's Madman". In which John Carradine portrayed the man who created Hitler's "Final Solution" to his Jewish problem, "Reinhardt Heydrich".

Lloyd Corrigan portrayed "John Whipple". Character actor Corrigan appeared in several different roles with the likes of Roy Rodgers, Spencer Tracy, Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard and Henry Fonda. He was also in Edward Dmytryk's "Hitler's Children".

Fay Helm portrayed "Nurse Strand". Helm was Bela Lugosi's victim in "The Wolfman" and had been in 1942's "Night Monster". However, it was her role in the "Blondie Franchise", based upon the Comic Strip, as "Mrs. Fuddle" that the actress is best remembered for.

Acquanetta, actually Mildred Davenport of Ozone, Wyoming, portrayed "Paula Dupree". She would be seen in 1944's "Dead Man's Eyes" and the 1950 Science Fiction "The Lost Continent".

Martha Vickers portrayed "Dorothy Colman". Vickers is best known for portraying the very sexual "Carmen Sternwood" in director Howard Hawks 1946 version of author Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep".

                                       Above Evelyn Ankers with Martha Vickers.

Paul Fix portrayed "Gruen". Fix would play "Marshal Micah Torrance" on televisions "The Rifleman" from 1958 through 1963. Paul Fix had been in many "B" Westerns going back to the silent films with his friend Harry Carey, Sr. However, through Carey he met a young man who would become another life long friend, but was having trouble playing a cowboy. Fix told him the secret was learning to walk like one. 

My article "PAUL FIX: The Character Actor Who Taught John Wayne To Walk" is found at:

The Screenplay:

Animal trainer "Fred Mason" returns to the United States from his latest Safari for the "Whipple Circus". At the dock he is met by his fiancée "Beth Colman". Later he shows her the gorilla, "Cheela", portrayed by "B" Cowboy actor Ray "Crash" Corrigan. "Dr. Walters" arrives to give "Beth" an update of her sister's condition.

"Walters" asks if he can purchase the gorilla and is told she's not for sale. "Dr. Walters" next gets in touch with "Gruen", an angry fired employee by "Whipple", to help him steal "Cheela". 

                                   Above Paul Fix is sitting at the table with John Carradine. 

"Gruen" gets the gorilla and she's put in the back of a truck. Then, "Dr. Walters" pushes "Gruen" into the truck bed with "Cheela" and she kills him.

Back at his laboratory, "Dr. Sigmund Walters" transfers some of "Dorothy's" glandular tissue to "Cheela". He's been using "Beth's" sister, against her will, as a source for his experiments. "Nurse Strand" watches, in shock, as the gorilla's body changes to that of a women that the doctor will name "Paula Dupree".

"Nurse Strand" tells "Dr. Walters" that all he has is a human form without a human brain. The doctor agrees and kills "Strand", transplanting her brain into "Paula". She is now a beautiful women without knowledge of her previous life.

The two go to the "Whipple Circus" as "Fred Mason" is in a cage with some lions and a tiger. Suddenly, an accident occurs and the felines go for "Fred", but "Paula" enters the cage and the animals back away in fear of her. She helps "Fred Mason" get out of the animal cage to safety.

"Fred" offers "Paula" the position of his assistant in his animal act and she agrees. After a while they have a new act, but "Paula" has become jealous of "Beth". One evening after "Fred" and "Paula" have finished their first dress rehearsal. She returns to her dressing room and thinking about "Beth" as a rival. "Paula" starts to revert to a gorilla.

"Cheela-Paula" goes to "Beth's" house and attacks and kills a woman she thought was "Beth", but it wasn't her perceived rival and worse "Paula" is bady injured. The Ape Woman goes to "Dr. Walter's" sanatorium. By the time she arrives, "Paula Dupree", is back to a gorilla and the doctor puts her within a cage.

"Dorothy Colman" has finally been able to contact "Beth" and tells her what's been happening to her. "Beth" now heads, alone, to "Walters". She finds "Dr. Sigmund Walters" about to remove more glandular tissue from her sister.

"Walters" now reveals what he's been doing to "Dorothy", because he has decided to use "Beth's" brain in "Cheela" to recreate a more stable "Paula". 

"Beth" releases "Cheela" and the gorilla kills the doctor. It then leaves the laboratory as "Beth" rescues her sister and heads for the "Whipple Circus".

Back at "Whipple's Circus" "Beth" and "Dorothy' arrive. As does the police looking for "Beth" to question about the wild animal killing at her home. The cats are getting spooked, because of a raging storm and "Fred" attempts to calm them and enters the cage. As everyone watches one of the lions attacks. Suddenly, "Cheela" appears and gets "Fred" out of the cage to safety, but a police officer mistakes the gorilla for another attacker and shoots and kills the ape.

Three forgotten motion pictures later including 1943's "Crazy House" followed for the actress. "Crazy House" starred the popular Broadway Comedy duo of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. Evelyn Ankers made a cameo appearance as herself in the picture. 

Now Evelyn Ankers was about to meet the King of the Vampires, or was she?

SON OF DRACULA released November 5, 1943

As I mentioned when discussing "The Wolf Man". This is the one motion picture brothers Curt and Robert Siodmark worked together upon. Curt came up with the idea of creating an American version of the films from the German Silent Cinema's "Impressionist Period". The most famous being director Robert Wiene's 1920 "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari".

Curt's brother Robert liked the idea and the two sold it to the executives at Universal Pictures. The story was written by Curt Siodmak and the screenplay was written by Eric Taylor. Taylor had done 1942's "The Ghost of Frankenstein"!

The imagery of "Son of Dracula" is not the normal of the period and as a result. Some of the sequences have an almost surreal nightmarish quality.

The Main Cast:

Lon Chaney portrayed "Count Alucard". This was a gimmick that Curt created spelling "Dracula" backwards and has been copied many times since. Chaney was just seen in 1943's "Crazy House" in a cameo as himself. He would follow this picture with 1943's "Calling Dr. Death".

Robert Paige portrayed "Frank Stanley". John Arthur Paige's first 14 feature films had the actor billed as David Carlyle. His first motion picture as Robert Paige was 1938's "Who Killed Gail Preston?" In that movie he co-starred with a dancer that until recently was billed by her own name of Rita Casino, but changed Casino to Hayworth. Just before this picture Paige was seen as himself in 1943's "Crazy House".

Louise Allbritton portrayed "Katherine Caldwell". Allbritton was a graduate of the "Pasadena Playhouse School" and was a supporting actress in films such as 1942's "Pittsburgh". Starring Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne and Abbott and Costello's 1942 "Who Done It?" She also was in 1943's "Crazy House". 

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Claire Caldwell" a very minor role in the picture.

Frank Craven portrayed "Doctor Harry Brewster". Craven originated the Broadway role of the "Stage Manager" in the 1938 production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town". Frank Craven repeated it for the 1940 motion picture version. No, Frank Craven was not in 1943's "Crazy House".

J. Edward Bromberg portrayed "Professor Lazlo". Character actor Bromberg was seen in Shirley Temple's 1936 movie "Stowaway", Temple's 1938 "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm", Tyrone Power's 1938 "Suez", 1939 "Jesse James" and his 1940 "Mark of Zorro". Just before this feature J. Edward Bromberg was in Claude Rains' 1943 "Phantom of the Opera".

"Frank Stanley" and "Dr. Brewster" are waiting at the train station for a friend of "Frank's" fiancée "Katherine Caldwell. He is the Hungarian "Count Alucard". The train arrives, but the conductor tells the two that nobody got off at the station. However, the Count's luggage appears to be on the train platform. The doctor notices that the Count's name, at the angle he's looking at it, is not "Alucard", but "Dracula".

The night "Count Alucard" does appear at the "Caldwell" plantation "Dark Oaks". "Katherine" introduces him to her father, "Colonel Caldwell", played by George Irving, her sister "Claire", "Dr. Brewster" and "Frank".

                                 Above "Frank Stanley" and the "Caldwell" family.    

Later that night "Colonel Caldwell" dies from what is described as a heart attack. According to his new will, "Claire" gets all the families money and "Katherine" gets the estate "Dark Oaks". The old will had both the families money and the property evenly split between the sisters. 

"Katherine" shocks everyone by announcing she is dumping "Frank" and will be marrying "Count Alucard". During the day, she goes to visit the local Voodoo Queen, "Madame Queen Zimba", portrayed by Adeline De Walt Reynolds. "Madame Queen Zimba" warns "Katherine" of the danger of marrying "Count Alucard".

That night "Frank Stanley" confronts "Count Alucard" over marrying "Katherine Caldwell". 

"Frank" pulls out a pistol and shoots the Count, but the bullets go through "Alucard" and kill 'Katherine". In shock, "Frank" goes to "Dr. Brewster" and tells him what he's done. "Brewster" tells "Stanley" to remain at his house and goes to "Dark Oaks" to see what really happened.

There he is taken up to "Katherine's" room and finds her alive in bed and "Count Alucard" by her bedside. The couple inform the doctor that during the daylight hours they're engaged in Scientific Experimentation, but always welcome visitors at Night!

Meanwhile, "Frank" left "Dr. Brewster's" house and goes to the "Sheriff" to confess he murdered "Katherine", but "Dr. Brewster" attempts to convince the "Sheriff" that he saw her alive at the plantation. The doctor states that "Frank" is in shock after having been told his longtime girlfriend won't marry him. However, the "Sheriff" decides to search "Dark Oaks" during the daylight hours and finds "Katherine's" dead body.

"Frank" is arrested for murder and the Sheriff has "Katherine's" body transferred to the morgue. In the next scene Curt Siodmak has a little fun by showing "Dr. Brewster" reading Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula". "Professor Lazlo", a Hungarian vampire hunter, who has been pursuing the Count all over Europe now arrives and meets with "Dr. Brewster". "Alucard" appears and confront them, but he is driven off by "Lazlo".

Meanwhile, "Katherine" materializes inside "Frank's" jail cell and reveals she married "Alucard" to become a vampire. So she could turn "Frank", her true love, into one also. So that the two could live forever together. She adds that the Count is really "Dracula" and  tells him the location of "Dracula's" coffin. Then informs "Frank" that he can find her in the plantations old playroom the two would go to as children.  After she leaves, "Frank" is truly going crazy, but figures away to escape jail and does.

"Frank" now goes into the swamp to destroy the vampire, but the Count isn't in his coffin. "Dracula" returns to discover "Frank" has set fire to his coffin and the two fight as the sun comes up and the Count is destroyed.

After destroying "Count Alucard", "Frank" goes to the playroom in the daylight and sets fire to the bed with the sleeping vampire, his love, "Katherine" as "Dr. Brewster" comes in.

After "Son of Dracula", the Universal Pictures contract actress, found that her next assigned motion picture was a Comedy, Musical, Romance entitled "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith". Evelyn Ankers two co-stars were popular singer Alan Jones. Who was in director James Whale's 1936 filmed musical version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Show Boat". The other was Billie Burke, "Glinda, the Good Witch" in 1939's "Wizard of Oz", but like other of Ankers motion pictures. This one is forgotten.

Then came another low budget entry that was described as a Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller feature.

THE MAD GHOUL released November 12, 1943

The motion picture was directed by James P. Hogan. This was his only Horror film and was actually Hogan's last motion picture out of 61 "B" features going back to the silent era. The reason this was Hogan's last movie is that he passed away 8 days prior to this pictures release.

The original story was from Hanns Kraly. Who had started out in German cinema in 1918 and escaped the country, as had the Siodmak brothers, with Hitler's rise to power. Kraly passed away in 1950, but still had five on-screen story ideas credited to him between 1955 and 1973. 

The screenplay was co-written by Brenda Weisberg. Her work in 1944 included the "Sherlock Holmes" story "The Scarlet Claw", and the low budget Horror entries "Weird Woman" and "The Mummy's Ghost". The other screenplay writer was Paul Gangelin. After this picture he wrote several of Roy Rodgers Westerns and 1957's Science Fiction movie "The Giant Claw".

This picture was shot as the bottom half of a double bill with "Son of Dracula".

The Main Cast:

David Bruce portrayed "Ted Allison". Bruce appeared in Errol Flynn's 1940 "The Sea Hawk", was in 1940's "Santa Fe Trial" starring Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and Raymond Massey, 1941's version of Jack London's "The Sea Wolf" starring Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino and John Garfield, the 1941 Gary Cooper "Sergeant York", John Wayne's 1942 Flying Tigers" and Evelyn Ankers 1943 "You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith".

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Isabel Lewis". 

George Zucco portrayed "Dr. Alfred Morris". Character actor Zucco was into his Horror phase, but previously he had been "Professor Moriarty" in the second 20th Century Fox "Sherlock Holmes" entry starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. His Horror entries had already included 1940's "The Mummy's Hand", 1941's "The Monster and the Girl", in 1942 they were "The Man Made Monster", "Dr. Renault's Secret", "The Mummy's Tomb" and in 1943 it was "Dead Men Walk".

Robert Armstrong portrayed "Ken McClure". Mention Armstrong and my reader thinks of 1933's "King Kong" and its sequel "Son of Kong". Rather than low budget "B" pictures, but that's the truth of his career. 

My article "ROBERT ARMSTRONG: It Wasn't All 'The Eighth Wonder of the World', His Brat, or Joe'!" can be read at:

Turhan Bey portrayed "Eric Iverson". Bey was a popular, with the ladies, leading "B" actor at Universal Pictures and especially in South Seas and Arabian Adventure features. He was in 1942's "The Mummy's Tomb" and at the end of "Captive Wild Woman" the audience heard his voice as the narrator. As himself he was seen in 1943's "Crazy House" and in co-starred with Jon Hall and Maria Montez, whose films he was usually in, as "Jamiel" in 1944's "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves".

Milburn Stone portrayed "Police Sergeant Macklin". Stone had just played a Naval Captain in 1943's "Corvette K-225" and would follow this feature with another WW2 movie "Gung-Ho!: The Story of Carson's Makin Island Raiders".

 The Screenplay:

"Dr. Alfred Morris" is curious about the effects of a Mayan nerve gas and is experimenting on a monkey that unfortunately died from it. However, the monkey was brought back to life by the fluids from another monkey's heart.

His assistant is "Ted Allison" and although he is enthusiastic about working with "Dr. Morris" and what success the Mayan gas would mean to his career. "Ted" is in love with "Isabel Lewis", a singer, and she has priority in his mind over everything.

After that first experiment with "Dr. Morris", "Ted" brings "Isabel" to meet him. "Morris" senses that "Isabel" is conflicted with her love for "Ted" and reveals she wishes he enjoyed music as much as her. "Dr. Morris" says he'll talk with "Ted" and help "Isabel". Having met the singer he is himself in love with her. In reality "Morris" plans to use his assistant as a test subject of the Mayan nerve gas.

The next day "Morris" exposes "Allison" to the gas and creates a ghoul that must live on the fluid from the hearts of freshly dead humans.

The two go grave robbing to get the fluid that "Ted Allison" needs to survive.

After "Ted" takes the fluid he returns to his normal self. Meanwhile, "Isabel" has realized she is falling in love with her pianist "Eric Iverson".

"Dr. Morris" and "Ted" go on a grave robbing spree across different states. As they follow "Isabel'" on her performance tour. The problem is that in his normal state "Ted" wants to be with "Isabel". As he can control "Ted", "Morris" realizes he needs "Eric" out of the way and wants to turn the ghoul "Ted" on him.

"Dr. Morris" controls "Ted Allison" from a hypnotic state caused by the Mayan gas. He has tried once to kill "Eric", but failed and awaits his next opportunity.

The police are now associating the grave yard violations and corpse mutilations to "Isabel's" tour and question her.

Also, reporter "Ken McClure" has come to the same conclusion, but doesn't know the truth. He sets a trap for what he thinks is a living killer is himself killed. The next attempt on "Eric" occurs when "Isabel" performs for her home town crowd.

"Dr. Morris" makes one last move to kill "Eric Iverson" and in his trance state tells "Ted" to kill "Eric" and then himself. However, "Ted Allison" has yet fully transformed into the ghoul and is able to write a letter to "Isabel" telling her all that is happened to him.

Next, "Ted" gets his revenge by exposing "Dr. Morris" to the Mayan nerve gas. 

Just as "Ted" is about to shoot "Eric", at "Isabel's" performance, the police shoot and kill him. 

While the ghoul, "Dr. Morris", is in a graveyard digging up a fresh grave to get at the body's heart fluid, but dies instead.

Three more movies later and Evelyn Ankers is back with Lon Chaney in what is part of the "Inner Sanctum Franchise" based upon the popular radio series. What is interesting is that the picture is described as a Inner SanctumFilm Noir Mystery Horror story. 

 WEIRD WOMAN released March 1, 1944

The picture was directed by Reginald Le Borg. Le Borg started directing in 1936 with 29 short subjects in many genres and his first feature length motion picture was a musical starring David Bruce, 1943's "She's for Me". That feature was followed by "Calling Dr. Death" the same year and then this picture.

This movie was based upon a novel "Conjure Wife" by Fritz Leiber, Jr. Who would write another story that became the 1962 movie "Burn Witch, Burn". 

The novel was adapted by Scott Darling. Brenda Weisberg wrote the Screenplay.

The Main Cast:

Lon Chaney portrayed "Norman Reed".  Also during 1944, Chaney would be seen in "Follow the Boys", "Cobra Woman", "Ghost Catchers", "The Mummy's Ghost", "Dead Man's Eyes", "House of Frankenstein" and "The Mummy's Curse".

Ann Gwynne portrayed "Paula Reed". Gwynne was in a 1944 WW2 movie about a woman's Auxiliary Ferrying Air Squadron "Ladies Courageous" just before this feature. She would follow the film with a Musical Comedy Romance co-starring with David Bruce, 1944's "Moon Over Las Vegas".

                                     Above Anne Gwynne and Lon Chaney

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Ilona Carr". 

                                                         Above Ann Gwynne, Lon Chaney and Evelyn Ankers

Ralph Morgan portrayed "Professor Millard Sawtelle". Often mistaken for his older brother Frank Morgan of "Wizard of Oz" fame. Ralph was a solid "B" character actor who appeared prior to this picture in 1932's "Strange Interlude" starring Norma Shearer and a young Clark Gable, 1933's "The Power and the Glory" co-starring with Spencer Tracy and Colleen Moore, 1937's "The Life of Emile Zola" starring Paul Muni and Gale Sondergard, the 1937 Western "Wells Fargo" starring Joel McCrea, 1941's "The Mad Doctor" starring Basil Rathbone and Ellen Drew and the very interesting 1942 "Night Monster" playing a quadruple amputee.

Lois Collier portrayed "Margaret Mercer". Collier appeared in several films including Mickey Ronney's 1942 "The Courtship of Andy Hardy", the same years "Three Mesquiteers" Western "Raiders of the Range" and with Anne Gwynne 1944's "Ladies Courageous". After this film Lois Collier starred as 1945's "Jungle Queen" and was seen in the Marx Brother's 1946 "A Night in Casablanca". Collier also co-starred in the 1950Cliff Hanger "Flying Disc Man from Mars".

                                  Above Lon Chaney, Lois Collier and Eveyln Ankers


The Screenplay:

The movie opens with "Professor Norman Reed" married to "Paula". There is a flashback about how he was in South Seas looking for voodoo and other similar native rituals. He meets "Paula", on Hawaii, and falls in love, but what he doesn't know is she was raised on Voodoo and other Superstitions. 

Back at the present day college strange things start to happen and "Anne" may be using witchcraft to take out those who are a perceived danger to her husband's advancement. Same kind of theme was used in "Burn Witch, Burn".

There is a young student, "Margaret", who becomes an aide to Chaney and starts making advances toward him. This upsets her boyfriend, "David", played by Phil Brown, and is killed. Brown portrayed "Luke Skywalkers Uncle Owen" in 1977's "Star Wars".

Within the story "Norman's" discovers his wife  "Paula" performing witchcraft.

There is a great dream sequence when "Evelyn Sawtelle", played by Elizabeth Russell, a favorite of producer Val Lewton, seems to change into a voodoo doll that had been given to Chaney.

                                   Above Evelyn Ankers and Elizabeth Russell

After being accused of murder, Lon's "Norman", starts to put things together. It is the very evil Evelyn Ankers rejected old girlfriend "Ilona" whose behind everything and "Paula" has been trying to protect him with her spells.

In Brian Senn's 1998 work "Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema". He mentions that  Evelyn Ankers found playing a villainess extremely hard and, in some scenes, when director Reginald Le Borg said action. Ankers and Gwynne would break out laughing at as Evelyn attempted to be menacing. This was the actresses only film playing against character.

Two features followed and one is worth mentioning, if only just for who was in 1944's "Pardon My Rhythum". Ankers co-starred with Patric Knowles once more, but that's not why I'm mentioning the feature. The supporting cast has singer and composer Mel Torme. Whose "The Christmas Song", with the lyrics "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire",  is a holiday classic. Bob Crosby, Bing's brother, and his orchestra "The Bob Cats" appear as does the uncredited "The Mel-Tones" with singer Les Baxter. Baxter became a composer and wrote scores for many American International Pictures features including the entire Roger Corman "Poe Series".

At this point, Evelyn Ankers found herself in the sequel to a previous film.

JUNGLE WOMAN released July 7, 1944

The feature was directed by Reginald Le Borg. It was based upon a story idea by Henry Sucher.Who was also one of the three screenplay writers. The second was Bernard Schubert and he had co-written director Todd Browning's 1935 "Mark of the Vampire", but he was basically a "B" feature writer. The third writer was Edward Dein. Who had co-written producer Val Lewton's 1943 "The Leopard Man" and the same years Intersanctum mystery "Calling Dr. Death". Dein also wrote the completely forgotten 1944 "The Soul of a Monster", but it would be his dual roles as screenplay writer and director for the classic Western setting vampire tale, 1957's "Curse of the Undead" that Dein is remembered for.

The Main Cast:

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Beth Mason". 

Milburn Stone portrayed her now husband "Fred Mason". Stone had just been seen in the 1944 Musical Western, "Twilight on the Prairie" and would follow this picture with a Comedy Musical, 1945's "She Gets Her Man".

Acquanetta portrayed "Paula Dupree". Acquanetta preceded this movie with "Captive Wild Women" and would follow it with 1944's "Dead Man's Eyes" with Lon Chaney.

J. Carol Naish portrayed " Dr. Carl Fletcher". Naish had just played 1944's "The Monster Maker" and would follow this feature with one about a Nazi agent in San Francisco co-starring with John Carradine, 1944's "Waterfront". Later Naish would be the hunchback, also in 1944, as part of the ensemble cast of "House of Frankenstein".

A Very Brief Look at the Screenplays Basics:

The story opens with "Dr. Fletcher" admitting to the police that he murdered "Paula Dupree" and a flash back story begins.

Above Evelyn Ankers, Milburn Stone, Lois Collier and Richard Davis in the District Attorney's office waiting to be called after J. Carrol Naish speaks.

Actually Ankers and Stone are used to lure in audiences and for the opening flashback. They're seen in the rewritten sequence at the "Whipple Circus" with the death of "Cheela". In this new sequence "Dr. Fletcher" is in the audience and witnesses the gorilla's heroic act of saving "Fred Mason". After her "Supposed" demise the doctor acquire the ape's body and discovers a faint heartbeat. Then before his eyes the gorilla turns into "Paula Dupree".


Going forward the remainder of the screenplay is a slow, somewhat reworking, of the original film without Ankers and Stone.

For her next feature film Evelyn Ankers was back to being the "Leading Lady", BUT that translated to 5th billing.

THE INVISIBLE MAN'S REVENGE released June 9, 1944

This motion picture unlike the three previous entries that followed director James Whale's 1933 classic "The Invisible Man". Which are 1940's "The Invisible Man Returns", 1940's "The Invisible Woman" and 1942's "The Invisible Agent". This picture returns to the original H.G. Wells' novel's concept in many ways.

The film was directed by Ford Beebe. Beebee would write the screenplays for 126 feature films, but as a director his 105 movies include 1932's "The Last of the Mohicans" starring Harry Carey, Sr. from a Beebee screenplay. the 1938 Cliff Hanger serial "Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars" starring Buster Crabbe, 1939's "Buck Rodgers" Cliff Hanger serial, 1940's Cliff Hanger serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" and 1942's "Night Monster". 

The screenplay was by Bertram Millhauser. Millauser started writing screenplays in 1911 and in 1943 wrote three of the "Sherlock Holmes" franchise and one more each in 1944 1945. It should be noted that Bertram Millhauser wrote the 1932 screenplay of William Gillette's "Sherlock Holmes". That starred Clive Brook in the role Gillette played on Broadway and in an early silent version.

The Six Main Roles:

Jon Hall portrayed "Robert Griffith". Charles Locher started on-screen acting in 1935 and portrayed a Tahitian native in that years "Mutiny on the Bounty" starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. After seven films Locher became Lloyd Crane for two films. Then he did another name change to Jon Hall for director John Ford's 1937 movie "The Hurricane" co-starring with Dorothy Lamour and Mary Astor. In 1940 Hall played the title role of "Kit Carson" and in 1942 was part of the cast of "Eagle Squadron". While the same year he would fight both Japanese spy, Peter Lorre, and Nazi spy, Sir Cedric Hardwick as "The Invisible Agent". 

Leon Errol portrayed "Herbert Higgins". Errol was a comedic actor and 107 out of his 165 film roles were Comedy short subjects.

                    Above the recognizable 1930 & 1940 comedian Leon Errol speaking to Jon Hall. 

John Caradine portrayed "Doctor Peter Drury". Just before this film Shakespearian actor Caradine was in another WW2 "B" drama 1944's, "The Black Parachute". Afterwards he would be in the previously mentioned "Waterfront" finishing off 1944 with "The Mummy's Ghost", "Return of the Ape Man", "Barbary Coast Gent", "Bluebeard", "Alaska" and "House of Frankenstein" as "Baron Latos" another Universal name change for "Dracula" .

Alan Curtis portrayed "Mark Foster". Curtis had just been seen in another of those films with many cameo appearances, 1944's Comedy Musical Drama "Follow the Boys" starring George Raft. He would follow this feature with the Crime Drama and Fantasy 1944's "Destiny". In 1941 Alan Curtis co-starred with Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart in director Raul Walsh's "High Sierra". In 1945 Alan Curtis co-starred with Lon Chaney and Kent Taylor in the Western "The Dalton's Ride Again".

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Julie Herrick".

                                          Above Evelyn Ankers and Alan Curtis

Gale Sondergard portrayed "Lady Irene Herrick". Sondergard was also seen in 1944's "Follow the Boys", but before that feature she was in the Rathbone and Bruce "Sherlock Holmes" motion picture as the title character "The Spider Woman". Gail Sondergard followed this picture with a Crime Film-Noir directed by Robert Siodmak "Christmas Holiday". What was unusual about the picture were the two main stars, 1930's youth singer Deanna Durbin and singer dancer Gene Kelly, but both played straight non-singing dramatic roles.

The Screenplay:

The setting is Cape Town, South Africa, and "Robert Griffith", no relation to the original 1933 "Invisble Man" as in the other films, is a mental patient that kills two orderlies. As he finally escapes the mental institution to seek revenge on the "Herrick Family". At the "Herrick" residence "Sir Jasper", played by Lester Matthews, and "Lady Irene Herrick" are meeting "Julie Herrick's" new boyfriend the newspaper journalist "Mark Foster".

Later that night, after "Julie" and "Mark" have left, "Lady Herrick" and "Sir Jasper" are visited by "Robert Griffith". "Griffith" claimed that the two left him for dead while the three were on a Safari in the African wild, but the other two claim they were told he was dead. "Robert" demands his share of the diamond fields the three discovered on that Safari, but "Sir Jasper" tells him that the fields were lost in a series of bad investments made by the couple.

"Robert" doesn't buy their explanation, but to calm him down the two "Herrick's" offer "Griffith" a share of their vast estate "The Shortlands". The enraged "Robert Griffith" counters by demanding the "Herrick's" arrange his marriage to "Julie". By this time "Sir Jasper" and "Lady Irene" are convinced he's entirely mad. They agree to the proposal just to keep him quiet and then are able to knock "Griffith" unconscious. Searching his clothing they find the agreement the three originally made and keep it. They next take "Griffith" out into the countryside and throw him down a small embankment into a pond. Where he is saved from drowning by a local cobbler named "Herbert Higgins".

"Higgins" learns of "Robert's" claims and decides to try to blackmail the "Herrick's", but this fails. After "Sir Jasper" calls the local Chief Constable "Sir Frederick Travers", played by Leyland Hodgson. Later, "Sir Travers" listens to "Robert Griffith's" story, but declares the contract void and tells "Robert" to leave his jurisdiction at once.

On his way out of South Africa, "Robert Griffith", comes upon the home of Scientist "Dr. Drury". "Drury" has created an invisibility serum and tells the other about it.

"Robert" asks "Dr. Drury" to try his formula on him and the doctor agrees, but is unaware that "Griffith" wants to use it to get revenge upon the "Herrick" family.

"Robert Griffith", now invisible, goes to "Sir Jasper Herrick" and forces him to sign over his entire estate to him. The frightened "Sir Jasper" also agrees to give "Julie's" hand in marriage, IF "Robert" regains visibility.

"Griffith" now returns to the doctor's house, but before entering notices how "Drury" is able to bring his dog back to visibility by a blood transfusion. After the doctor leaves his laboratory "Robert Griffith" breaks into it. The noise brings "Dr. Drury" back. "The Invisible Man" now knocks the doctor unconscious and using him in a blood transfusion regains his visibility. However, "Drury" dies and "Griffith" starts a fire burning the doctor's body and home down.

"Robert" changes his name to "Marrtin Field" and moves into the estate as a guest of the "Herrick's". Although he legally owns everything, but "Julie" is still unware of either that fact or the marriage agreement . 

"Martin Field" meets "Herbert Higgin's", who is attempting to blackmail him by revealing his real identity. "Griffith" instead offers the man a thousand pounds to get rid of "Brutus", that had followed him from the fire, and forget who he really is.

"Higgin's" agrees and "Martin Field" now returns to the estate

"Martin" asks "Mark" to go with him to the wine cellar and knocks him out and locks the door. His plan is to use "Mark's" blood to regain visibility. However, before he can perform the transfusion "Chief Constable Travers" arrives with "Higgins" and the dog Brutus. With the help of "Sir Jasper" they break down the locked wine cellar door and save "Mark". While "Robert Griffith" is attacked by "Brutus" and is killed. "Mark Foster" explains to the others that "Griffith" went insane when he was locked up in the mental institution and meant no harm to anyone until he escaped and learned the truth about the diamonds.

"The Invisible Man's Revenge" was immediately followed by Evelyn Ankers second appearance in a "Sherlock Holmes" feature.

THE PEARL OF DEATH released August 1, 1944

The Franchis entry was directed by Roy William Neill. Neill had already directed 1942's "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon", 1943's "Sherlock Holmes in Washington", the same years "Sherlock Holmes Faces Death" and the Gale Sondergard entry "The Spider Woman". Along with another franchise feature "The Scarlet Claw". While somehow in all these "Holmes" films he also directed 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man".

The screenplay the was based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Six Napoleon's" was written by Bertram Millhauser.

The Main Cast:

Basil Rathbone portrayed "Sherlock Holmes". In a change of pace Rathbone had just been seen in the 1944  Comedy Musical "Bathing Beauty" starring Red Skelton and Esther Williams. The actor would follow this picture with a period piece, 1944's "Frenchman's Creek", co-starring Joan Fontaine and Arturo de Cordova. 

Nigel Bruce portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson". He had just been seen in the same role in 1944's "The Scarlet Claw". Bruce would follow this picture with 1944's "Gypsy Wildcat" starring Maria Montez and Jon Hall. Which was followed by his appearance in "Frenchman's Creek".

Dennis Hoey portrayed "Inspector Lestrade". Hoey had portrayed "Lestrade" three times already. He was a character actor that had appeared, also, as a detective in 1943's "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man". Hoey was a British Intelligence Officer in Tyrone Power's 1941 "A Yank in the R.A.F.", was a "White-Jungle Man Leader" in 1937's "Uncivilized" and portrayed a "Gestapo Colonel" in 1943's "Bomber's Moon".

                                 Above Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey and Basil Rathbone

Evenlyn Ankers portrayed "Naomi Drake"

Miles Mander portrayed "Giles Conover". Prior to this feature he was "Judge Brisson" in 1944's "Scarlet Claw". His other roles include "Sir Frederick Fleet" in 1943's "The Return of the Vampire" starring Bela Lugosi, "Pleyel" in the Claude Rains 1943 "Phantom of the Opera" and "James V. Thorne" in the Lloyd Nolan and Donna Reed 1942 Western "Apache Trail".

Rondo Hatton, who suffered from acromegaly, first played "The Creeper" in this film. He would recreate the role in both 1946's "House of Horrors" and "The Brute Man".

My article: 
"Rondo Hatton: The Tragic Life of 'THE CREEPER". May be found at:

The Screenplay:

"Miles Conover" steals the famous "Boria Pearl", but when he's arrested does not have it in his possession and is let go. Then a series of murders of elderly people having their backs broken in half starts. "Sherlock Holmes" knows that there is only one killer that does that, "The Hoxton Creeper". 

At each murder scene are found broken china pieces. Slowly "Holmes" comes to the conclusion that the "Creeper" and "Conover" are looking for a china bust of "Napoleon" that holds the missing "Borgia Pearl".

In the end "Holmes" convinces "The Creeper" that "Conover" will double cross him. "The Creeper" kills 'Conover" and the "World First Consulting Detective", in turn, kills the other.

Evelyn Ankers next motion picture was a Comedy Musical, 1944's "Bowery to Broadway", co-starring Maria Montez, Susana Foster, Jack Oakie and Jon Hall. Ankers had 12th billing as "Bonnie Latour".

Yet, in her next and motion picture Evelyn Ankers had second billing. 

THE FROZEN GHOST released June 1, 1945

Depending upon the critics, or the department within Universal Pictures. This feature was either Evelyn Ankers last Horror movie, or a Film-Noir Mystery. Whichever, this was another entry in the Inner Sanctum franchise.

The film was directed by Harold Young. Young was a film editor with 32 credits and a director with 41 credits. Among Young's work are 1934's "The Scarlet Pimpernel" starring Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon and Raymond Massey. One of the first disaster passenger ship films, 1938 "The Storm" starring Charles Bickford, Barton MacLane and Preston Foster, 1942's "The Mummy's Tomb" and the live action segments of Walt Disney's 1944 "The Three Caballeros"

Henry Sucher and Harrison Carter created the story. Carter only contributed two other stories for his total motion picture career.

The screenplay was co-written by Bernard Schubert and Luci Ward. Ward wrote 30 "B" Western screenplays prior to this film. After this screenplay she wrote only 9 more screenplays and they were again Westerns.

The Main Cast:

Lon Chaney portrayed "Alex Gregor aka: Gregor the Great". Just prior to this feature Chaney was in the Abbott and Costello 1945 movie "Here Comes the Co-eds". Immediately following this film he was in another Inner Sanctum mystery, 1945's "Strange Confession".

Evelyn Ankers portrayed "Maura Daniel". After this picture Evelyn Ankers appeared in a Film-Noir from Republic Pictures, 1945's "The Fatal Witness".

Elena Verdugo portrayed "Nina Coudreau". From 1969 through 1976 Verdugo co-starred with Robert Young on the television series "Marcus Welby, M.D.". Right before this feature Elena Verdugo portrayed "Ilonka" in 1944's "House of Frankenstein". Following this movie she had 6th billing in the Abbott and Costello Comedy "Little Giant" from 1946.

Tala Birell portrayed "Madame Valerie Monet". Considered just another "Garbo" wannabee, "Birell" had appeared in the 1935 version of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" starring Peter Lorre. In 1938 the actress appeared in director Howard Hawks' 1938 "Bringing Up Baby" starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. In 1944 she was in "The Monster Maker".

                                         Above left Elena Verdugo with Tala Birell

Martin Kosleck portrayed "Rudi Polden". Kosleck left Germany as Hitler came to power to find himself cast as German spy's and Nazi's. In 1939 Kosleck was in "Confessions of a Nazi Spy" starring Edward G. Robinson and George Sanders. In 1940 he was in director Alfred Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent" starring Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. The actor was in 1941's "The Mad Doctor" starring Basil Rathbone and in 1944 he was "Joseph Goebbels" in "The Hitler Gang" and was seen in "The Mummy's Curse".

Douglas Dumbrille portrayed "Inspector Brant". Among his varied roles are playing "Thomas Paine" in 1924, a District Attorney in 1932's "I Am a Fugitive from A Chain Gang" starring Paul Muni and a pirate in the 1934 "Treasure Island" starring Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper. Character actor Dumbrille was in the Peter Lorre 1935 "Crime and Punishment", in 1939 he was in Lorre's "Mr. Moto in Danger Island" and like others. Douglas Dumbrille was in an Abbott and Costello Comedy, 1944's "Lost in a Harem".

                                       Above Evelyn Ankers and Douglas Dumbrille

Milburn Stone portrayed "George Keene".

                              Above Lon Chaney, Evelyn Ankers and Milburn Stone

The Screenplay:

While being broadcast on the radio and performing before a live audience. Hypnotist "Gregor the Great" places his assistant and fianceé "Maura" in a trance. A drunken audience member ridicules "Alex" claiming its all done with mirrors and accuses him of being a fake. "Alex" stops his regular performance and brings the man on stage and hypnotizes him, but something goes wrong and the man dies. The medical examiner says the man died of a heart attack and not what "Alex" did. However, "Alex Gregor" is filled with guilt claiming to have murdered the man and calls off his engagement. 


"Alex's" manager, "George Keene," gets "Gregor" a job working for "Madame Valerie Monet", the owner of a Wax Museum, as a lecturer. Her niece "Nina" works at the museum and like her aunt is very excited to have "Alex Gregor" working there.

Also working at the Wax Museum is a disturbed former plastic surgeon named "Rudi Poldan". He is not happy to see "Alex" as he is no longer the center of attention by the two women and becomes jealous.

Next, "Maura" shows up attempting to win back "Alex".

Meanwhile, "Valerie" misreads the interaction between "Nina" and "Alex" and is actually jealous over her niece's attention by him. This leads to an argument between "Valerie" and "Alex". While this is going on she seems to faint and he leaves her there. The next morning, after a good night sleep, "Alex" returns to find "Inspector Brant" at the Wax Museum investigating "Valerie Monet's" disappearance and believed murder. From what "Brant" has gathered "Alex" may be the last person to have seen his employer alive.

Everyone is unaware that "Rudi" found "Valerie" in a coma and moved her among his unfinished sculptures. "Nina" suspects that "Alex" is scheming with "Rudi" to get rid of "Valerie". However, someone drugs her and she disappears. What "Inspector Brant" and "Maura" don't know is that "Rudi" plans to get "Alex Gregor" declared mentally ill and gain control of his property. However, the real person behind this plan is "George Keene".

"Rudi" takes "George" to where the two women are hidden, but they discover that "Valerie" is dead. "George" panics and wants to get rid of both bodies in the basement furnace. Even though "Nina" is still alive, but with "Keene's" panic "Rudi" sees his opportunity to take control of the situation.

Next, "Alex" realizing he can only trust "Maura", puts her in the same trance seen at the film's opening and she implicates George Keene and Rudi Polden". Attempting to escape the Wax Museum "George" is captured and arrested by "Inspector Brant". "Alex" and "Maura" go to the museum's cellar to free "Nina", before she can join her aunt in the basements furnace.

"Rudi" attacks "Alex" and in the struggle falls backward into the furnace. The film ends with "Alex" and "Maura" married and "Nina" his new assistant.

Four motion pictures later, released on August 29, 1946, Evelyn Ankers had the first of only two roles with her husband Richard Denning. The motion picture was the 1946 production of the Anna Sewell children's classic "Black Beauty". Evelyn Ankers was 3rd billed as "Evelyn Carrington" and Richard Denning was 2nd billed as "Bill Dixon".

Above Evelyn Ankers, Richard Denning and 1st billed Mona Freeman as "Anne Wendon".

On February 5, 1949 Evelyn Ankers had 4th billing in RKO Pictures "Tarzan's Magic Fountain" from a screenplay by Curt Siodmak. Can you say Amelia Earhart? In this picture, starring Lex Barker in the title role and Brenda Joyce as "Jane", Ankers is aviatrix "Gloria James Jessup" who disappeared 20 years before. Which would place that two years after Earhart's disappearance possibly in the same area. Now it's up to "Tarzan" to find "Gloria" to save a man's life with her testimony.

                                         Above Brenda Joyce, Lex Barker and Evelyn Ankers

Evelyn Ankers couldn't escape "Sherlock Holmes". On March 25, 1949, on the live, but forgotten television anthology series "Your Show Time". There was the 27 minute long "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Alan Napier, the future "Alfred" on television's "Batman" from 1966 through 1968, portrayed "Sherlock Holmes" and Melville Cooper portrayed "Dr. John H. Watson".

Above Evelyn Ankers as "Miss Stoneman" and, believe it or not, Alan Napier as "Sherlock Holmes". Below Melville Cooper as "Dr. Watson".

Starting with Evelyn Ankers second appearance with her husband Richard Denning, on December 19, 1952, during the first season of his weekly television detective program "Mr. and Mrs. North" co-starring Pamela Britton. Ankers spent the next 8 years strictly on television and then retired.

Evelyn Ankers Denning passed away on August 29, 1985 at the age of 67.





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