Thursday, January 5, 2023

ERNEST THESIGER: Not Just Director James Whale's "Dr. Septimus Pretorius"!

Mention the name Ernest Thesiger to a classic horror movie fan and his role of "Dr. Septimus Pretorius" in director James Whale's, 1935, "The Bride of Frankenstein", always comes to mind. However, that role has overshadowed character actor Thesiger's other work. 

















Above, Ernest Thesiger with Boris Karloff in "The Bride of Frankenstein".

Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger, 
the third of four children, was born on January 15, 1879, in Chelsea, London, England. 

His father was the Honorable Sir Edward Peirson Thesiger, KCB (Order of the Bath), Clerk Assistant to Parliament (The Chief Clerk of the House of Lords)". 

His mother was Georgina Mary Sackville, daughter of William Bruce Stopford Sackville, of Drayton House, part of the family of the Irish Earl of Courtown. 

On his father's side, his grandfather was Frederic Thesiger, 1st Earl of Chelmsford, twice Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. His uncle was Frederic Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron of Chelmsford, who on January 22, 1879, led Queen Victoria's modern British army against a Zulu native army, with only spears, in South Africa. The "Battle of Isandlwana" resulted in over 1,300 of Clemsford's command killed, see the 1979 motion picture, "Zulu Dawn", starring Peter O' Toole as Chemsford, and Burt Lancaster, as Colonel Dumford.

I could not locate anything on Ernest Thesiger's early life, but he attended "Marlborough College", Marlborough, Wiltshire, England. The word college has a different meaning in the United Kingdom to the United States, the student ages for instruction are 13 to 18-years-of-age.















Ernest wanted to be a painter and enrolled in the "Slade School of Fine Art", now part of the "University College London", Bloomsbury, London. 















There he met William Bruce Ellis Ranken, seen in 1907 below, a fellow painting student, and the two became close friends.





 














However, Ernest switched careers to the legitimate stage to become an actor.

In 1909, Ernest Thesiger appeared for the first time on-stage in a play entitled, "Colonel Smith", apparently not the 1909 play, "Smith", first staged that same year and written by W. Somerset Maugham. Also in 1909, Thesiger showed the first of his activism by joining the "Men's League for Women's Suffrage" and participating in demonstrations throughout London.











Shortly, after the outbreak of the First World War, on August 31, 1914, stage actor, Ernest Thesiger volunteered for the British Army's Territorial Force. His enlistment was in the 2nd Battalion, 9th London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), as rifleman #2546. Three months later, Thesiger was fighting on the Western Front. 

 



















In France, both Thesiger and Ranken found themselves together while serving in the army. At this time, William Ranken, as a diversion to being in the trenches of the Western Front, found, collected, and repaired pieces of historical embroidery and resold them. William taught embroidery to Ernest and he worked with his friend repairing the pieces.

However, on January 1, 1915, Ernest Thesiger hands were badly damaged by a bomb and he was medically evacuated out of France and returned to England. There he started creating small sewing kits for other soldiers with hand injuries. These were designed to help elevate pain and improve morale, by giving these injured soldiers an activity to help keep them from thinking of nothing but their injuries. This became "The Disabled Soldiers Embroidery Industry", located at 42 Ebury Street, London. 

As time would pass, Thesiger started taking in commissions and would be known as the "Honorary Secretary Cross-Stitch". One of Ernest Thesiger's embroidery commissions, was to make an altar frontal piece, for private use, at Buckingham Palace.

 

















To put Ernest Thesiger in proper prospective after being evacuated from France to England. Starts with the play "A Little Bit of Fluff". This comic farce opened at the Criterion Theatre on October 27, 1915, starring Thesiger as "Bertrand Tully", and ran for 1,241 performances into 1918.

My reader should note the following poster indicating the safety of the theatre during the war.

 



On March 8, 1916, Ernest Thesiger appeared as a "Witch" in drag, in his first motion picture. A parody of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", written by playwright J.M. Barrie, 1904's, "Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up", entitled, "The Real Thing at Last". The motion picture starred Edmund Gwenn", "Kris Kringle", in 1947s' original, "Miracle on 34th Street". 

On May 30, 1917, Ernest Frederic Graham Thesiger, married Janette Mary Fernie Ranken, William’s sister.














 Below is a painting by William of his sister painted shortly after the wedding.

 


 

In May 1919, Thesiger appeared as "Bertrand Tully" in his fourth motion picture, a filmed version of "A Little Bit of Fluff". His second and third films had been historical productions, in early 1918, the actor appeared as "Joseph Chamberlain", in "The Life Story of David Lloyd George" aka: "The Man Who Saved the Empire". In December 1918, Ernest Thesiger, below, portrayed "William Pitt" in "Nelson".

 


 

 








For Christmas, 1919, Ernest Thesiger appeared in a special stage production of William Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor", among the cast was a young actor starting to learn his craft that became a very close friend named James Whale.

 In April 1920, the actor below, appeared on-stage in playwright J.M. Barrie's, "Mary Rose", at London's "Haymarket Theatre".



















Critics considered "Mary Rose" as very "Hitchcockian", which brings me to Ernest Thesiger's seventh motion picture, the never released, 1922, "Number 13"aka: "Mrs. Peabody". This was the first motion picture completely directed by Alfred Hitchcock. However, Gainsborough Pictures, stopped the production when the financial backers ran out of money. The picture is considered "Lost". Below is a still of Thesiger as "Mr. Peabody", and Clare Greet as "Mrs. Peabody".



  

 

 













The following is a portrait of Ernest Thesiger painted by his brother-in-law, William Ranken.


 

















The look of the portrait clearly reflects Thesiger's bisexuality and according to authoress Hillary Spurling's, 1974, biography of the actor's friend, authoress, Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett, DBE (The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), "Ivy When Young: The Life of I. Compton-Burnett 1884-1919". Ernest Thesiger didn't hide his bisexuality and his marriage to Janette Ranken was more out of their shared love for her brother William, then love of each other.

During the seven years after "Number 13", the actor only appeared on stage. On March 26, 1924, Ernest Thesiger appeared as "The Dauphin" in playwright George Bernard Shaw's, "Saint Joan", at the New Theatre, in London, for 244 performances. Below the actor as "The Dauphin".

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A review by James Agate in the March 30, 1924, edition of "The Sunday Times" includes:

the Dauphin was beautifully played by Mr. Thesiger, who showed beneath his astonishing grotesquerie the pity and and pathos of all weakness.

On March 17, 1925, he appeared in playwright Noel Coward's musical revue, "On with the Dance", at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, for the initial run of 229 performances. The British weekly newspaper, "The Era", includes:

The most comical thing in the revue is the Vicarage Garden Party on the lines of a musical comedy, with Miss Hermione Baddeley giving a clever and cruel burlesque of Nellie, the heroine, and Mr. Ernest Thesiger and Mr. Douglas Byng, as two clergymen, singing the funniest number of the evening.

After the run of "On with the Dance", Ernest Thesiger worked on an autobiography, "Practically True", about his stage career, which was published on January 1, 1927.

 The actor returned to the silent screen for 1929's, "Week-end Wives", and "The Vagabond Queen". Then, in 1930, Ernest Thesiger made his first sound film, a short subject entitled "Ashes". The story is a science fiction comedy about a slow-moving cricket match starting in 1940 and ending in the year 2000. I could not locate any still from the 23-minute short, but portraying "The Girl", was Elsa Lanchester, in her eighth on-screen appearance.

 James Whale, had crossed "The Pond" in 1929, to direct "Journey's End", on Broadway. He brought his original London production leading men, Colin Clive and David Manners, with himThe three turned the play into a 1930 motion picture for Universal Pictures, and now, in 1931, Whale contacted his friend Ernest Thesiger to cross the pond and come to Hollywood and Universal Pictures.

The story of "Journey's End" will be found in my article, "JAMES WHALE: Jean Harlow to Louis Hayward", at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2020/07/james-whale-jean-harlow-to-louis-hayward.html

THE OLD DARK HOUSE released on October 20, 1932

 


 















According to IMDb, this motion picture is an adventure comedy drama. While, according to Wikipedia, the motion picture is a pre-motion picture code, comedy horror feature. 

The website, Film Magazine, gets a little more specific saying:

It’s a crying shame that The Old Dark House, through a combination of an intellectual property rights mismanagement and studio blinkers, isn’t better known outside the die hard Gothic horror fan base. It’s comfortably James Whale’s best film – even better than his two Frankenstein installments – and today it stands out as the scariest Universal Horror. 

 https://www.thefilmagazine.com/old-dark-house-1932-movie-review/

Whichever of the above three, or perhaps another description altogether, properly defines this motion picture's genre. One thing stands out, 1932's, "The Old Dark House", has an outstanding thespian cast for the year. 

However, before James Whale contacted his friend Ernest Thesiger to come to Hollywood to play the role he had in mind for him, there had to be a screenplay.

 An to have a screenplay, there had to be a source.

That source was the novel, "Benighted", written by British author J. B. Priestley, and published in October, 1927. This was Priestley's look at the British class system after the First World War in a, no pun intended, novel way.


 

 

 

 














John Boynton Priestley, OM (Order of Merit), was a British playwright, novelist, screenplay writer, broadcaster, and social commentator. The title of this work is defined by "Merriam Webster", as overtaken by darkness, or night. The example given is from Irish poet. W.B. Yeats:

Benighted travelers....have seen his midnight candle glimmering

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/benighted 

As described on the website "goodreads", Priestley's novel starts out as:

Philip and Margaret Waverton and their friend Roger Penderel are driving through the mountains of Wales when a torrential downpour washes away the road and forces them to seek shelter for the night. They take refuge in an ancient, crumbling mansion inhabited by the strange and sinister Femm family and their brutish servant Morgan. Determined to make the best of the circumstances, the benighted travellers drink, talk, and play games to pass the time while the storm rages outside. But as the night progresses and tensions rise, dangerous and unexpected secrets emerge.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11096912-benighted 

Should my reader read my article on James Whale, they will discover that he directed the 1931 version of playwright Robert E. Sherwood's, "Waterloo Bridge", with the screenplay written by British writer Benn W. Levy. That outstanding pre-code work had impressed Universal Pictures owner Carl Laemmle, Sr. and he invited Levy to return from England to adapt and write the screenplay for what would be entitled, "The Old Dark House".

As with many screenplays there would be another writer working on what was called "additional dialogue". The uncredited position went to British playwright Robert Cedric "R.C." Sherriff, who had written "Journey's End". Immediately after this motion picture, Sherriff adapted and wrote the entire screenplay for Whale's, 1933 version of H.G. Wells', "The Invisible Man". His name would also be associated with James Whale's, 1935, "The Bride of Frankenstein".

As for director James Whale, his latest release was 1932's, "The Impatient Maiden", a comedy romance, that starred actor Lew Ayres, and from Whale's 1931, "Frankenstein", Mae Clarke, and Una Mekell. James Whale followed this motion picture with the forgotten 1933 murder mystery, "The Kiss Before the Mirror", co-starring Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, and Paul Lukas.


Those Thespian's:

Boris Karloff, billed as "KARLOFF", portrayed "Morgan". He had just been seen in the Warren William and Maureen O'Sullivan, 1932, romantic drama, "Skyscraper Souls", in the uncredited role of the "Man Approaching Ticket Counter". The actor followed this motion picture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's, 1932, "The Mask of Fu Manchu". His role is part of my article, "Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee: Fu Manchu the Movies", at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/10/boris-karloff-christopher-lee-fu-manchu.html



 












For some reason, Universal Pictures seemed to believe that it was necessary to publish in newspaper ads and at the theaters showing the original release of "The Old Dark House", the following statement.


 










Melvyn Douglas portrayed "Roger Penderel". This was only Melvyn Douglas's sixth motion picture. He had just co-starred with Greta Garbo and Eric von Stroheim in 1932's, "As You Desire Me", and followed this feature co-starring with Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray, in 1933's, "The Vampire Bat".



















Charles Laughton portrayed "Sir William Porterhouse". Laughton had just co-starred with Tallulah Bankhead and Gary Cooper, in 1932's, "Devil and the Deep". The actor would follow this film with 1932's, "Payment Deferred", co-starring with Maureen O'Sullivan and Ray Milland. Laughton was two motion pictures away from both director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1932, "The Sign of the Cross", portraying "Emperor Nero", and the H.G. Wells "The Island of Lost Souls", based upon the novel "The Island of Dr. Moreau".













Lilian Bond, as Lillian Bond, portrayed "Gladys DuCane/Perkins". Bond had just appeared in the Warner Baxter and Karen Morley, 1932 drama, "Man About Town", and followed this motion picture appearing in the Cary Grant, Nancy Carroll, and Randolph Scott, 1932 drama, "Hot Saturday".



 












Ernest Thesiger portrayed "Horace Femm". As I previously mentioned Thesiger had appeared in the 1930 short subject "Ashes". His next motion picture and the next one I will speak to is, 1933's, "The Ghoul".













Eva Moore portrayed "Rebecca Femm". British actress Moore had just been seen in 1932's, "--But the Flesh is Weak", starring Robert Montgomery, this forgotten film was written by Ivor Novello based upon his play of that name. Novello played the possible "Jack the Ripper", in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1927, "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog". Eva Moore would next be seen in the Herbert Marshall, Conrad Veidt, and Madeleine Carroll, 1933, "I Was a Spy".













Raymond Massey portrayed "Philip Waverton". Massey had just been in the 1932 crime drama, "The Face at the Window", he followed this picture with 1934, "The Scarlet Pimpernel", in which Massey co-starred with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon.














Gloria Stuart portrayed "Margaret Waverton". Stuart had just co-starred with Richard Arlen and Andy Devine in the "B" adventure, 1932's, "The All-American". She would follow this picture co-starring with Pat O'Brien and Ralph Bellamy in the 1932 adventure, "Air Mail". In 1933, she co-starred with the unknown and unseen Claude Rains, in director James Whale's, "The Invisible Man". In 1987, 87-years-old Gloria Stuart portrayed the elderly "Old Rose", in director James Cameron's, "Titanic".











Elspeth Dudgedon as "John Dudgedon", yes an actress billed as a man for the role of, "Sir Roderick Femm". The British character actress had just been in the Ruth Chatterton and George Brent, 1932, "The Crash", as an uncredited, "Solitaire player". She followed this motion picture with the uncredited role of "Mrs. Weeks", in the Roland Colman and Kay Francis, 1932, "Cynara".


 

 

 











 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Brember Willis portrayed "Saul Femm". Willis's entire on-screen appearances were six, between 1931 and 1937. His first appearance was in the 1931 motion picture, "Carnival", portraying "The Stage Manager" and starring Joseph SchildkrautHis last role was in a 1937, British made for television production of "Cinderella" as "The Chancellor". 

 


 

 

 










The Screenplay:

Note:
It is important for my reader to understand, that the following is only a description of the story. It does not reflect the required subtilties within the actor's characterizations, that combine with the mood filming of the uncredited cinematographer Arthur Edeson, and the set designs of the uncredited Russell A. Gausman, under the direction of James Whale, to make this Ernest Thesiger feature relate the comedic horror of the screenplay to the viewing audience. 


It is a wild and stormy night in Wales, husband and wife, "Philip Waverton", and "Margaret Waverton", and their friend, "Roger Penderel", are trying to drive through the storm. The "Waverton's", in the front seat of the car, are bickering like old married couples, and "Penderel" is being totally ignored in the back seat.































The road ahead of them becomes washed out by a landslide and the three "Benighted" see "The Old Dark House" in the distance off the road and debate about going up to it to seek shelter. As "Mr. Waverton" says during their debate:

We're somewhere in the Welsh mountains, it's half-past-nine, and I'm very sorry.

Looking at the house, the three still think about going up to it. "Penderel" jokes, to stay his fear of the ancient looking house.

 


 













The whole above quote and its set-up is:

wouldn't it be dramatic, supposing the people inside were dead, all stretched out with the lights quietly burning about them.

Knocking on the door, it is answered by "Morgan", described in the screenplay, as in the novel, as "The Brutish Servant".














Once inside the house, the three meet their host,

my name is "Femm", "Horace Femm"


















Who is joined by his sister, "Rebecca".





























Above, note the signed insert of Eva Moore during her stage and motion picture career.

"Horace Femm", is described as an effeminate hysteric, and his sister "Rebecca Femm", is described as a religious fanatic.

"Horace" is concerned that the storm may trap their "Guests" inside the house, not for the obvious reason they believe, but who is behind a locked door. The three are taken to the fire place to warm themselves. 

Taking "Philip Waverton" aside, "Horace", warns, that "Morgan" is a heavy drinker and becomes very dangerous when drunk.


 


 






However, "Margaret Waverton" is more concerned about getting out of her wet clothing than anything else, or anybody. "Rebecca Fem" takes her upstairs to a bedroom to change, but on the way there, "Margaret" is told a little about the sinful and godless "Femm" family. 

 The following stills may give my reader an idea of what directors could get away with in the pre-motion picture code period including total nudity as seen in DeMille's previously mentioned, 1932, "The Sign of the Cross". Two-years later and this entire sequence would be censored out.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Rebecca" leaves, and a strong storm wind opens a window and blows into the room.

 


 

 

 












After getting the window closed, "Margaret" returns to a table with a weird looking mirror to apply her make-up, but the house and its occupants seem to be getting to her.


 

 

 













Now, "Philip", with his on-edge wife "Margaret, and still easy going "Roger", sit down for dinner with the "Femms". There's another knock at the door and two more "Benighted" travelers arrive and are escorted to the fire place. The new arrivals are, "Sir William Porterhouse", described as a braggart, and his lady friend, "show girl", "Glady DuCane".


 

 












At the dinner table, both groups of "guests" first meet and Ernest Thesiger starts to steal the movie from the other actors, if he hasn't already.











 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
















































































 

 

 

During the dinner, "Gladys" reveals, even to "Sir William", that her last name is really "Perkins", but it is "Horace" who reveals that he and "Rebecca" had a sister named "Rachel", who died under mysterious, unnamed, circumstances. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 














As the group starts to chat, "Roger" and "Gladys" excuse themselves to go and get a bottle of liquor from the car. Suddenly, the electricity goes out throughout the house, "Rebecca" tells "Horace" to go get a lamp on the landing, but to the others "Horace" seems extremely frightened of going up to the landing in the dark. "Philip" says he will and searching for the lamp, finds a locked room, and hears a voice in another. Downstairs, "William" leaves to help "Rebecca" close a window, leaving "Margaret" by herself, who starts to make shadow figures in the dining room wall.


















Enter a drunken "Morgan" who attacks "Margaret" and chases her up the stairs as "Philip" is coming down them.


 

 














"Philip" tosses the lamp at "Morgan" who loses his balance and falls down the stairs.

 Meanwhile, "Gladys" and "Roger" have gone into the barn to drink and smoke. There, she tells him that her relationship with "William" is purely platonic and that she should now live with "Roger". The two also decide to go back into the main house, find and wake a sleeping 'William", who is just fine with their new relationship, because he still loves his late wife.

Upstairs, "Philip" and "Margaret" enter the room he heard a voice, to find "Sir Roderic Femm" in his bed.

"Sir Roderic" warns "Philip" and the already on edge, "Margaret", that behind the locked door is his eldest son, "Saul", a pyromaniac.































Downstairs, "Roger" has gone over to a window and is looking out at the storm as "Glady's" comes over to him.





















































Upstairs, "Philip" and "Margaret" go to the locked door, but discover that "Morgan" has freed "Saul". They go downstairs to warn the others, but "Morgan" goes after "Margaret" with "Rebecca" present.

 


 

 

 













"Philip" and "William" grab and drag "Morgan" into the kitchen and lock him in it. Confused and in fear, "Rebecca" flees to her room. In another part of the house, "Saul" now confronts the unaware "Roger", who has moved to the dining room table.




 














 










 








 

 
























"Roger" gets up, but "Saul" knocks him out and leaves the dining room. "Saul" steals a burning branch from the fire place and sets the curtains on fire. "Roger" has regained consciousness, sees the fire and tells "Margaret" and "Gladys" to get in the closet for safety and locks it, he then attacks "Saul" and the two fight on the upper landing. 


 

 

 

 



























The two men land on the floor, "Saul, " is killed and "Roger" injured from the fall. 





 

 












"Morgan" breaks out of the kitchen. He lets "Margaret" and "Gladys" out of the closet, and goes over to his friend, "Saul".

















"Morgan" gently lifts "Saul's" body up and takes him upstairs to his room.





 

 

 












The following morning the storm has gone, the sun is out, and there's little damage to the house from "Saul's" fire. "Philip" and "Margaret" leave to have an ambulance sent to treat the injured "Roger", who will ask "Gladys" to marry him.


 















Both Ernest Thesiger and Boris Karloff returned to England for the same motion picture by Gaumont British Productions, a seldom seen, or known motion picture.

THE GHOUL premiered on August 7, 1933 in London

 




The motion picture was directed by T. Hayes Hunter. Hunter was an American director who started in the film industry with a 1912 short, entitled, "Papa's Double". He worked as the chief producer for the Biograph Film Company, then in 1919 became a director for Samuel Goldwyn, later, patented a means of showing a commercial in a frame at the bottom of the movie without disrupting the story, and in 1927, Hunter moved to England to work within that country's film industry.

The motion picture was loosely based upon a 1928 novel and play by co-writer Dr. Frank King, his only film, of three, until a BBC television program in 1950, and co-writer, Leonard Hines, his only film until that same 1950 television episode for the BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, "Tusitala", about Robert Lewis Stevenson. 

Their novel was adapted by Rupert Downing. This was his last adaption of for a screenplay of four between 1931 and 1933.

The actual screenplay was written by two writers; the first writer was Roland Pertwee. He started writing for films in 1919. Roland and his eldest son Michael, created the first soap opera for British television, "The Grove Family", that ran from 1954 through 1957. His youngest son, Jon Pertwee, was BBC television's third "Dr. Who".

The other writer was John Hastings Turner. Turner co-wrote sixteen screenplays between 1920 and 1940. This picture was number eleven!

The producer of the film was Michael Balcon, in 1927, he gave an "Art Director" and "Title Designer" his first actual directing position. That man was Alfred Hitchcock, and the silent classic was, the aforementioned, "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog".



Boris Karloff portrayed "Professor Henry Morlant". Karloff went to England while his salary dispute was going on with Universal Pictures. "Karloff" had just been seen in 1932's, "The Mummy", and would follow this feature with the sometimes overlooked, RKO Pictures, 1934, "The Lost Patrol", a classic First World War story, directed and co-produced by John Ford.

My article on "The Mummy", entitled, "The Mummy (1932) vs The Mummy (1959) vs The Mummy (1999) vs The Mummy (2017)" will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2022/12/the-mummy-1932-vs-mummy-1959-vs-mummy.html

 


 

 

 










Sir Cedric Hardwicke portrayed "Mr. Broughton". Hardwicke was seen in the 1933 British comedy "Orders is Orders", starring American character actor James Gleason. He followed this picture co-starring with Leslie Howard and Binnie Barnes, in 1934's, "The Lady Is Willing". He was six motion pictures away from co-starring with Frederic March and Charles Laughton in the 1935 version of author Victor Hugo's, "Les Misérables".

 


 














Ernest Thesiger portrayed "Laing". Thesiger would next appear as "The Chamberlain", in the German UFA studio and British Gainsborough Pictures, musical co-production, 1933's"The Only Girl", starring Charles Boyer. Which would be followed by two other forgotten motion pictures, 1934's, "The Murder Party", and another musical, 1935's, "My Heart Is Calling"

 


 















Dorothy Hyson portrayed "Betty Harlon". American actress Hyson was noted for her beauty and good looks and the song writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II dedicated their song, "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" to her, that was written for their 1935 musical "Jumbo". This was Dorothy Hyson's second feature film, she first appeared on-screen in 1921 as "The Baby". During the Second World War, Hyson worked as a top-secret cryptographer in Bletchley Park.




 

 

 

 

 











Sir Ralph Richardson portrayed "Nigel Hartley". This was Shakespearian actor Richardson's first on-screen appearance. He had been appearing on-stage with the "Old Vic", for the last two-years, and in four plays, one by George Bernard Shaw, from late 1932 until this film role.

 














Above, the uncredited George Relph as "Doctor", and Ralph Richardson as the "Fake Minister".


Anthony Bushell portrayed "Ralph Morant". Bushell started on-screen acting in the 1929, George Arliss biographical motion picture, "Disraeli", he had fifth-billing in director James Whale's, 1930, "Journey's End", and had just been seen in the musical comedy, 1933's, "Soldiers of the King", co-starring Edward Everett Horton. Bushell would follow this motion picture with 1933's, "I Was a Spy", starring Madeleine Carroll, Herbert Marshall, and Conrad Veidt.

 


 













The Screenplay:


The story is familiar, but with a British twist and contains many sequences without speaking, making it ideal for the background of director T. Hayes Hunter. The picture is considered the first sound horror film made in the United Kingdom, but is it really horror. Look at how Gaumont British describes the story on the above poster.

The screenplay opens with "Sheikh Aga Ben Dragore", played by Harold Huth, right below, and "Mahmoud", played by D.A. Clark Smith, left below, arguing over the stolen jewel known as the "Eternal Light".

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





"Mahmoud" accuses "Aga" of stealing the jewel, but the other tells him that it was sold to "Professor Henry Morlant". "Morlant" is a renowned Egyptologist who has been looking for the ancient Egyptian jewel for decades. All three men believe the "Eternal Light" has the power of rejuvenation, with eternal life, if offered to the god Anubis.

The new vicar, "Nigel Hartley", knocks on the front door of "Professor Morlant's" manor house. His knock is answered by the professor's servant of many years, "Laing". The new vicar claims he wants to redeem a "Lost Soul", but in reality, he's a fraud looking for the "Eternal Light". "Laing" sends "Harley" away, after informing him that "Morlant" is a pagan.

"Professor Morant" has an unnamed disease, is close to dying, and issues specific instructions to "Laing". Upon his death, "Laing" will bind the "Eternal Light" to his hand, and he will be placed in the sarcophagus within the recreation of an Egyptian tomb on his property, reminiscent of the sets in Boris Karloff's, 1932, "The Mummy".

Then at the appointed time, he will rise from his death, place the "Eternal Life" jewel in the hands of the statue of Anubis, within his tomb, and be rejuvenated as a young immortal man.




 

 

 

 

 























"Henry Morlant" next tells "Laing", that he will return from the dead to seek revenge, if the jewel is taken from him:

When the full moon strikes the door of my tomb

"Morlant's" doctor arrives, only to pronounce that the professor has died from his disease.

 


 



















"Henry Morlant" is buried in the sarcophagus within his recreated Egyptian tomb, apparently with the "Eternal Light" bound to his hand.

 


 















However, the "Eternal Night" has not been entombed with "Professor Henry Morlant" as "Laing" promised him. Upon removing the shoe on his clubfoot, the jewel is in a special compartment in the sole. "Laing" now places the jewel in a coffee container in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, going over the paperwork for the professor's estate, "Mr. Broughton" discovers that "Henry Morlant" spent 75,000-English-pounds on the purchase of one item. He discovers it’s a jewel on a ring that the professor was buried with. This means there is no money to pay him for his work and "Broughton" decides he needs to get the jewel for himself.

"Laing" contacts the professor's niece, "Betty Harlon", and sets up a meeting with her for that night. He is unknowingly now being followed by "Broughton's" chauffer. Back at "Broughton's" office, the other heir, "Morlant's" nephew, "Ralph", learns that his uncle is almost penniless, but thinks otherwise and wants to meet with "Betty".

At their meeting, "Laing" gives "Betty" a note telling her that there is something of value at the manor house. Almost immediately, in the darken street, her purse is stolen, the note read by the thief, torn up, and the pieces left on the street. The thief is "Broughton", but also observing all of this is the "Aga Ben Dragore", who puts the torn pieces of the note together and reads the message. 

While, "Ralph" finds "Betty", and the two agree to go to the manor house and figure out what is actually happening. As the story progresses, the two cousins will begin to fall in love, but at first, they represent two sides of the "Morlant" family tree that have been feuding for years and there remains a little friction between the two. Along with "Betty", comes her roommate, "Miss Kaney", played by Kathleen Harrison.

At the tomb, somebody is planting dynamite around the tomb with an attached blasting cap.

"Mr. Broughton" arrives at the manor house and starts searching for the jewel. There's a knock at the door and he goes to answer it and lets "Betty", "Ralph", and "Kaney" inside. The vicar happens to be outside and before the door is closed, he enters the house.


 

 

 









"Aga Ben Dragore" and "Mahmoud" also come to the house, but only "Aga" enters and the other hides outside with a large knife. "Kaney" is very taken by the Egyptian "Dragore" and starts to envision being married to him. He wants to enter the tomb, but is told that is impossible.

 Alone, the friction between "Betty" and "Ralph" ends, and "Laing", who hadn't return from the meeting on the street, now does.


 
















However, the moon's light strikes the tomb of "Henry Morlant". 

 


 






 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







At this point, the film basically becomes a classic silent horror movie, with Boris Karloff not speaking any lines and using his expressive face, as he did in 1931's, "Frankenstein". One cannot overlook 1927's, "The Cat and the Canary", which was directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, because of T. Hayes Hunter's obvious copying of Leni's style for "The Ghoul" and especially from this point to its conclusion.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







"Professor Henry Morlant" now goes after those he believes have stolen the "Eternal Light" jewel from him. He finds "Mahmoud", but his knife does not stop the professor from killing him. In the house, "Kaney" and the "Aga" go into the kitchen to make coffee, but "Laing" interrupts them and while they are distracted with each other, removes the jewel. He leaves and hides in it "Betty's" over-night case.


"Aga Ben Dragore" goes outside followed by the scared to be left alone "Kaney". Meanwhile, the professor encounters his servant, learns the location of the "Eternal Light", and in a struggle manages to strangle "Laing" into unconsciousness.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 









"Betty" goes upstairs with her over-night case and is followed by her uncle. While outside, looking up at the second floor and through a window, "Aga Ben Dragore" sees that "Morlant" has the jewel. After he also strangled "Betty" into unconsciousness.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 










Regaining consciousness, "Betty" comes down stairs and relates the events to "Ralph", and "Broughton", who are in an argument, and then she faints. After she recovers, led by "Laing", the cousins go to "Henry Morlant's" tomb, which their uncle had entered earlier with the "Eternal Light". The cousins enter, but the frightened "Laing" remains outside. "Aga Ben Dragore" finally is able to get himself away from the aggravating "Kaney".

While, inside the tomb, the cousins watch as "Professor Morlant" cuts into his chest the sign of Anubis. 
 



















"Morlant" then places the "Eternal Light" in the hands of the statue of Anubis and waits for something to happen.

 


 

 

 






























Again, one cannot wonder if the above scenes set design was to remind the United Kingdom audience of 1932's "The Mummy", that had recently been seen there?


 



















As the cousins watch, the statue of Anubis apparently comes alive, as did the statue of Isis in "The Mummy", and closes its hand around the jewel. "Professor Henry Morlant" collapses dead on the ground in front of Anubis.

Except, now the vicar now comes out from behind the statue with the "Eternal Light" in his hand, it was his hand that "Morlant" placed the jewel in.

"Nigel Hartley" now points a pistol at "Ralph Morant", but "Ralph" throws an object from the tomb at him, knocking the vicar unconscious. Immediately, the "Aga" appears, also with a pistol demanding the jewel, "Ralph" attacks him and is shot by a glancing blow to the head, knocking him out. The "Aga Ben Dragore" leaves, locking everyone inside the tomb, as one of the torches falls from the wall and starts a fire.

Plot switch:

Apparently, earlier "Ralph" had spoken to his uncle's doctor and asked him to bring the police to the manor house. On their way there, the doctor tells the main police officer that he now believes that "Henry Morant" didn't die when he examined him, but suffered from an attack of catalepsy. In short, he was buried alive. Thank you Edgar Allan Poe.

The "Aga" now runs into "Kaney" and the two argue, he slaps her, and unknown to him the "Eternal Light" falls from his pocket. He leaves her and she picks it up as he runs to a car. Inside the car is "Mr. Broughton", also with a pistol, and demanding the jewel. The "Aga" agrees, but discovers he doesn't have the jewel and both realize "Kaney" has it and chase after her.

She stops at a deep well and holding the jewel over it, tells the two she'll drop it into it. The two men decide to let her do that, because they can come back later to retrieve it. However, the police now arrive and arrest both "Mr. Broughton" and the "Aga Ben Dragore" and "Kaney" turns the jewel over to them.

Inside the tomb, "Nigel Hartley" comes to and detonates the explosives he placed around the door to the tomb. "Ralph" and "Betty" stagger out of their uncle's tomb and kiss each other.

According to Merriam Webster, there are two definitions for a "Ghoul":
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ghoul

First, a legendary evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses. 

Second, one who shows morbid interest in things considered shocking or repulsive.

Neither definition fits the character of "Professor Henry Morlant" or the screenplay, and the following poster from Argentina is completely off the story.




After the three motion pictures with Ernest Thesiger that I mentioned earlier that followed "The Ghoul" into 1935, came a return to the direction of James Whale.


THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN premiered on April 19, 1935, in Chicago, Illinois, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. It would be released to a limited run-on April 30, 1935, and to general audiences on May 3, 1935





James Whale had just directed Colin Clive in the forgotten mystery, 1934's, "One More River". Noted as being the first motion picture to have major censorship by Joseph Breen, under the new Motion Picture Code, and containing the first on-screen appearance of actress Jane Wyatt. Whale would follow this feature film with the comedy mystery, 1935's, "Remember Last Night?", starring Edward Arnold, Robert Young, and Constance Cummings.

Carl Laemmle, Jr. had considered doing a sequel to 1931's, "Frankenstein", after the results of the preview audiences were in. Before that features general release, the ending was reshot with "Henry Frankenstein" now surviving to be in the sequel. However, Whale refused to do the sequel at the time, but after 1932's, "The Invisible Man", he made a deal with Laemmle, Jr. He would direct the sequel, but only if he could film "One More River", first. 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley aside, it took ten writers to write the screenplay. The first treatment was written in 1932 by the uncredited Robert Florey, entitled, "The New Adventures of Frankenstein--The Monster Lives!", but it was rejectedIn 1933, Tom Reed wrote a treatment entitled, "The Return of Frankenstein", and was given the go ahead to write a full screenplay. Even in 1933, Reed's screenplay passed Joseph Breen and the Hayes Censorship Office.

However, according to James Curtis, in his 1998, "James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters", contracted director Whale's view of Tom Reed's screenplay was:

it stinks to heaven!

Carl Laemmle, Jr. next assigned screenplay writers L.G. Blochman and mystery writer Philip MacDonald, author of 1959's, "The List of Adrian Messenger", to rewrite the screenplay, but James Whale disapproved of their rewrite.

In 1934, James Whale turned to playwright and screenplay writer, John L. Balderston, both 1931's, "Dracula" and "Frankenstein", and 1932's, "The Mummy", to write a screenplay. It was Balderston that took the obscure section of Shelley's novel about creating a mate for the creature and turned it into the main screenplay basis, he also added the Mary Shelley prologue. My article, "John L. Balderston: Writing Classic Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction Screenplays", may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2022/08/john-l-balderston-writing-classic.html

However, Whale wasn't completely satisfied with Balderston's screenplay and now turned it over to playwright William J. Hurlbut and librarian and author "Edmund Pearson to work on it. Before the screenplay was finally cleared by Hays Office censor, Joseph Breen, Josef Berne, R.C. Sherriff, and Morton Covan would also have worked on it in some capacity.

What the viewer now would see was not what either James Whale, or Carl Laemmle, Jr. originally envisioned for the motion picture.

The following seven names are based upon the above poster. It should be noted that the "Official Cast Listing" and other lists have two other names in the top seven acting positions that are not listed on the posters. While two of the names on the posters are shown in the eighth and ninth positions,

All the posters for "The Bride of Frankenstein" use familiar actor names for potential audience recognition and box-office.


Boris Karloff, billed as "KARLOFF", portrayed "The Monster" for the second of three times. Just prior to this motion pictures release, the actor portrayed "The Phantom", in the Edmund Lowe, and Gloria Stuart, comedy, 1934's, "Gift for Gab". He followed this feature with top billing as KARLOFF and co-starring with Bela (Dracula) Lugosi, in 1935's, "The Raven".




 

 
















Colin Clive portrayed "Henry Frankenstein", the role he portrayed in director James Whale's, 1931, "Frankenstein". The actor had just been seen in the 1935 drama, "The Right to Live", and followed this picture with the Bette Davis vehicle, 1935's, "The Girl from 10th Avenue". My article, "Colin Clive, Henry Not Victor Frankenstein and Alcoholism!", can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2020/08/colin-clive-henry-not-victor.html
















Valerie Hobson took over the role of "Elizabeth Frankenstein". Immediately after this motion picture, Hobson portrayed Henry Hull's wife in 1935's, "Werewolf of London". However, it is from her marriage, in 1954, to John Dennis Profumo, that most people in the United Kingdom know of Valerie Hobson. While the world knew her husband, in 1961, for a scandal with the prostitute, Christine Keeler. My article, "Valerie Hobson: From Frankenstein's Bride To Bringing Down the British Government", can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/01/valerie-hobson-from-frankensteins-bride.html


 














Una O'Connor portrayed "Minnie". Popular character actress O'Connor had appeared in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1930, "Murder", director James Whale's, 1933, "The Invisible Man", and just before this picture, director George Cukor's, 1935, version of author Charles Dickens', "David Copperfield". Una O'Connor would follow this motion picture in director John Ford's, 1935, "The Informer".

 


 

















Ernest Thesiger portrayed "Doctor Septimus Pretorius". I have already mentioned the motion picture Thesiger appeared in prior to this role and I will speak to the motion picture that followed later.

Universal Pictures did not want Thesiger in the role, but had selected Claude Rains. Whale let it be known that if Ernest Thesiger didn't get the role, he would not direct. 

When Thesiger arrived in Hollywood, he set up a booth to sell his embroidery work in his hotel's lobby and very successful.

 


 

 















Elsa Lanchester portrayed both "Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley" and the, technically, "Second Bride of Frankenstein". Like her husband Charles Laughton, Lanchester was an outstanding British character actor. In 1933, she portrayed "Anne of Cleves", the fourth wife, in her husband's, "The Private Life of Henry the VIII". She had just been seen in the Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, operetta, 1935's, "Naughty Marietta", and followed this feature film with the comedy fantasy horror film, 1935's, "The Ghost Goes West", starring Robert Donat and Jean Parker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 













Edward "E.E." Clive portrayed the "Burgomaster". Character actor Clive had just portrayed the uncredited role of "Westbrook - Thrope's Chauffeur", in 1935's, "Gold Diggers of 1935", starring Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, and Gloria Stuart. He followed this picture portraying "Jevons, Courtney's Butler", in 1935's, "We're in the Money", starring Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell, and Hugh Herbert.

 














Dwight Frye, not on the poster, portrayed "Karl". Character actor Frye had just portrayed an uncredited reporter in James Whale's, 1933, "The Invisible Man". After this motion picture he appeared in the Lloyd Nolan and Nancy Carroll, comedy mystery, 1935's, "Atlantic Adventure". My article, "DWIGHT FRYE: Overlooked Horror Icon", will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/07/dwight-frye-overlooked-horror-icon.html

















An Overview of the Joseph Breen Approved Screenplay:

It is a wild and stormy night as "Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley" sits in a corner sewing.






















Her husband, "Percy Bysshe Shelley", played by Douglas Walton, invites her to join "Lord Byron", played by Gavin Gordon, and himself. She sits between the two men as they compliment "Mary" on her story of "Frankenstein". However, to tie this motion picture to the 1931 film, she replies that the story wasn't complete:
















The screenplay now switches to shortly after the events of the 1931 motion picture have ended. The windmill is a still smoldering structure with a pit beneath it completely revealed and the villagers are still cheering what they believe is the death of the "Frankenstein Monster". 


 

 



























Things have calmed down and "Hans", this time played by Reginald Barlow, the father of the little girl killed by the monster in 1931, wants to see the burnt bones of the creature. Looking into that pit revealed from the burning of the mill, "Hans", falls into it and finds not bones, but the living monster.












Having seen her husband fall into the pit, when a hand comes out, thinking it is "Hans", his wife, played by Mary Gordon, "Mrs. Hudson" in the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce "Sherlock Holmes" series, helps the monster out and is killed for her efforts by it.




 

 

 










 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The monster now encounters "Minnie", the maid at the Frankenstein house, who flees is blind terror.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The body of "Henry Frankenstein", whom the family and his fiancée "Elizabeth" believes died in the windmill with his creation, is now brought to the Frankenstein ancestorial home. Just as "Minnie" arrives to inform everyone that the monster lives, but no one will believe her.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


















"Elizabeth" notices movement from "Henry", realizes "He's Alive", and will nurse him back to health.

















"Henry" has renounced his creation, but still believes he might be able to unlock the secret of life and immortality. However, "Elizabeth" still fears for his future.

 


 













During the night, there is a knock on the front door and "Minnie" opens it to receive a strange person. Who identifies himself as "Dr. Pretorius" and wishes to speak to "Dr. Henry Frankenstein".

 


 

 

 











 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Dr. Septimus Pretorius", "Henry's" former mentor, tells "Henry Frankenstein" about his own experiments and wants the other to see them.


 














"Henry" visits "Pretorius" and sees that his experiments have created homunculi, miniature people, including a king and queen. 






























"Dr. Pretorius" wants "Henry" to assist him in creating a mate for his monster. Suggesting that with his technique, "Pretorius" will create an artificial brain, and "Henry" would assemble the body parts.

















"Dr. Pretorius" proposes a toast to "Henry":













"Henry Frankenstein" is not interested in his mentor's proposal and leaves.

Several events are taking place to change the monster's perceptions and his life. According to Mark A. Vieira, in his 2003, "Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic", James Whale believed:

the Monster would have the mental age of a ten-year-old boy and the emotional age of a lad of fifteen

Adding that: 

Whale and the studio psychiatrist selected 44 simple words for the Monster's vocabulary by looking at test papers of ten-year-olds working at the studio.

So, how did these changes occur and lead to the tag line:

The Monster Speaks

In the screenplay, the monster sees a "Young Shepherdess", played by Ann Darling, drowning and saves her, but coming too and seeing her rescuer, she begins screaming in fright.

 


 













Two hunters come along and shoot and wound the monster. They rise a mob, go looking for the monster, capture and chained the monster to a pole, bring monster into the village and placed the chained monster in a dungeon. 

 


 

 




































The monster escapes and goes back into the forest and discovers a "Blind Hermit", played by O.P. Heggie, who accepts him as a "friend". Teaches him, the proper way to eat, to smoke, to speak those 44 simple words, and to appreciate music.


 

 



























This strange friendship is interrupted by the arrival of two hunters that are lost in the woods.

















The closest lost hunter to the hermit was played by the uncredited Frank Terry. While, the lost hunter at the doorway, was played by the uncredited John Carradine. The monster attacks the hunters, and accidently starts a fire that burns the cottage down. While the two hunters take the hermit to their perceived safety and organize another mob to find the monster.

Taking refuge from the new mob in a cemetery, the monster observes "Dr. Pretorius", "Karl", and "Ludwig", played by Ted Billings, opening a coffin.



 
























A short time later, "Karl" and "Ludwig" leave and "Pretorius" sets down for a light supper on the coffin and meets the monster.

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



The monster approaches "Pretorius" asking "Friend"?



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The monster now shares some of the food of his "New Friend" and learns that "Dr. Pretorius" wants to create a mate for him, if they can get "Henry Frankenstein" to co-operate.



































"Henry" and "Elizabeth" are now married and he is surprised by a visit from "Pretorius". Who once again asks "Henry" to help him build a mate for the monster. Once more, "Dr. Henry Frankenstein" refuses the offer and "Dr. Septimus Pretorius" puts his plan into effect, the monster will kidnap "Elizabeth Frankenstein".



 




 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


After the kidnapping, "Elizabeth" is taken to the laboratory, and "Karl" secures her to prevent an escape.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









"Pretorius" tells "Frankenstein" that nothing will happen to "Elizabeth", IF he helps him create a mate for "Henry's" monster. "Henry Frankenstein" reluctantly agrees to protect his wife and the creation of the monster's mate begins.





















































 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 As the work to create a body continues, "Henry Frankenstein" becomes as obsessed with the mate's creation as his old mentor, "Septimus Pretorius".



 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




A storm is raging as the final preparations to bring to life the monster's mate continues. As with the monster itself, his mate is raised on a platform into the storm so that bolts of lightning will electrify the newly created body. 

On the rooftop as the storm rages, the monster stands watching and kills "Karl" who was interfering. The monster comes down as the bandages are being removed from his now living mate.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 










 

 

 

 








The monster approaches his new "Friend" and she sees him. Her reaction is the same as the young shepherdess, that of fear, and not love as the monster wished for.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






She screams and retreats to "Henry" for safety.

 


 















The “human” monster realizes the situation:

She hate me! Like others! 

He tells "Henry" and "Elizabeth":

Go! You live! Go!

He tells "Dr. Pretorius":

You stay. We belong dead

While shedding a tear, the monster blows up the lab with his mate, "Dr. Pretorius", and himself in it.

 

Herbert George "H.G." Wells wrote two motion picture screenplays. 

 


















The first was based upon his 1933 novel, "The Shape of Things to Come", and had its London, England, premier on February 21, 1936. The plot of this classic science fiction film starts in 1940's, "Everytown", goes through a Second World War that lets loose a plague, and ends in "Everytown", in the year 2036. While following the everyman, "John Cabal" portrayed by Raymond Massey, in 1940, and in 1970, below, and then Massey as "Oswald Cabal" in 2036.
















Of interest to this article is the role of the 2036 agitator and anti-science leader, "Theotocpulos", initially cast and shot by director William Cameron Menzies as portrayed by Ernest Thesiger, below.

 















However, H.G. Wells saw that original pre-release cut, did not like the way Thesiger was portraying "Theotocpulos", and demanded he be removed from the production. This resulted in all of Ernest Thesiger's scenes being deleted and reshot with the future Sir Cedric Hardwick, below.





 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, Ernest Thesiger did appear in the second motion picture written by H.G. Wells.

THE MAN WHO COULD WORK MIRACLES released on July 23, 1936


 

The motion picture was directed by Berlin born, Lothar Mendes. Just prior to this feature, Mendes directed the German production, 1934's, "Jew Suss (Jew Sweet)" aka: "Power", starring Conrad Veidt, about life in an 17th Century Jewish Ghetto. Mendes would follow this film with 1937's, "Moonlight Sonata", starring world famous pianist, Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

H.G. Wells wrote the original short story, the films scenario, and screenplay. 

The uncredited Lajos Biro, 1935's, "Sanders of the River", starring the great African American singer and activist, Paul Robeson, and Leslie Banks, also worked on the screenplay. After this picture, Biro wrote, 1936's, "Rembrandt", starring Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, and Gertrude Lawrence.

The Four Leads:

Roland Young portrayed "George McWhirter Fotheringay". Roland Young's first motion picture had the actor portraying "Dr. Watson" to John Barrymore's "Sherlock Holmes" in the 1922 feature based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective. In 1937, Young portrayed "Commander Good", to Sir Cedric Hardwicke's, "Alan Quatermain", in H. Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines", featuring Paul Robeson. That same year Roland Young first played "Cosmo Topper", in the Cary Grant and Costance Bennett fantasy comedy, "Topper". He would play the role two more times and in 1945, would appear in the classic version of playwright and authoress Agatha Christie's, "And There Were None".


 

 















Sir Ralph Richardson, below left, portrayed "Colonel Winstanley".  Richardson had just portrayed "The Boss", in the 1970 segment of "Things to Come", and would follow this motion picture with a 1937 British television production of playwright William Shakespeare's "Othello", in the title role.


 

 













Edward Chapman portrayed "Major Grigsby". Chapman had just portrayed "Pippa Passworthy" in 1940, and "Raymond Passworthy" in 2036, in "Things to Come". Chapman was in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1930, "Murder", and British science fiction fans know Chapman as "John Elliott", co-starring with Dean Jagger in 1956's, "X-the Unknown".

 


 

 

 











Ernest Thesiger portrayed "Vicar Maydig". Thesiger followed this role with 19th billing in the Clive Brook and Jane Baxter, 1938 mystery, "The War Case".


 

 

 











Joan Gardner portrayed "Ada Price". This was the tenth of her fourteen on-screen appearances. Gardner married filmmaker Zolton Korda, brother of producer Alexander and set designer Vincent, and remained married until Zolton's death in 1961.


 












Of interest is that the cast also included actors George Zucco as "The Colonel's Butler", George Sanders as "Indifference", he was also an uncredited pilot in the Alexander Korda produced "Things to Come", Torin Thatcher, the evil magician in Ray Harryhausen's "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ", as the "Observer", and Michael Rennie, "Klaatu" in director Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still", as a "San Francisco Cop".

 The Very Basic Screenplay:

Three superhuman entities, or Gods, discuss humanity and can't reach a decision. So, they pick a man at random and give him powers to see what will happen. What follows is a series of misadventures on human nature.





 













Above is George Sanders as "Indifference", Ivan Bryant as "Player" and Torin Thatcher as "Observer".

In a typical English pub, "George Fotheringay" gets into argument with his friends that miracles are an impossibility. 


 














To prove his point, he tells them that he'll concentrate on a lamp to make it raise. Suddenly, the lamp does just that and the shocked "George" has created a miracle. 


 















"George" returns home, believing that he was just drunk and the lamp flying in the air was his imagination. However, at home he does the same thing and other "miracles". Such as making a kitten appear and turning his bed into a cornucopia of fruits and bunnies.













"George" goes to the clothing store he works at and removes the freckles off a clerk who hated them. A bothersome policeman comes into the store and in anger, "George" tells the man to go to hell. The officer finds himself surrounded by flames and smoke. Horrified over what he just did, "George" has the cop relocated to San Francisco instead, still keeping the police officer away from himself.

Concerned over what these miracles can do, "George Fotheringay" goes to "Vicar Maydig" and tells him of his power. "Maydig" has a plan, "George" can abolish famine, plague, war, poverty, and the ruling class as represented by "Colonel Winstanley". 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Starting the vicar's plan, "George" plays a trick on the "Colonel", but "Winstanley" discovers the truth about "Fortheringay" and feeling threatened by "Maydig's" plan, decides to kill "George". However, "George" makes himself magically invulnerable.

Now realizing that others, including the vicar, wish to exploit him, "George" stops following "Maydig's" plans and creates an old-fashion kingdom with "George Fortheringay" the center of the universe. Next, he makes the girl, from the clothing store, that he loves, his queen.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"George" turns the "Colonel's" house into a palace of gold and marble and commands the leaders of the world to create a utopia, free of greed, war, plague, famine, jealousy and toil. However, "Maydig" asks "Fortheringay" to wait until the following day to make this miracle go into effect and he agrees. To prevent the day from taking place, "George Fortheringay" stops the earth's rotation.

However, that causes all living creatures and objects to whirl off of the earth into outer space and all life except "George's" has been obliterated. Floating in space, "George Fortheringay" realizing that no person should have such power, creates one last miracle, returning the world to the state it was before he entered the pub. 

The audience now sees "George" enter the pub, the argument with his friends, attempting to move the lamp, but can't, proving there is no such thing as a miracle.

After the world is put back together. One of the three God like entities, "Indifference", remarks that their experiments only result was:

Negativism, lust, and vindictive indignation.

"Player" remarks:

Humans were only apes yesterday, and to give them time to grow up.

While the "Observer" remarks:

That humanity was made for the mess, and will never get out of the mess.

When "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" was released in New York City. Film critic Frank Nugent of the "New York Times" called the film:

a delightfully humorous fantasy with an undertone of sober Wellsian philosophy,

Four forgotten motion pictures followed and Thesiger returned to the legitimate stage. In 1942, he appeared in Sir John Gielgud's production of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth". The play was at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, from July 8 through October 10, 1942. The following is from "Ernest Thesiger.org":

http://www.ernestthesiger.org/Ernest_Thesiger/Macbeth.html

This production of “Macbeth,” produced by and starring John Gielgud, is notorious for being particularly cursed. The story has become exaggerated over time, as this typical example demonstrates: “A 1942 production starring John Gielgud holds the record for most misfortune. Three actors died during its run, and the costume designer killed himself right after the premiere.”  Here are the facts as accurately as can be determined:  The first Duncan, Marcus Barron, suffered an attack of angina and had to quit the production. He was replaced by Nicholas Hannen.  Milton Rosmer, cast as Macduff, fell ill and was replaced by Francis Lister.  One of the Weird Sisters, Beatrix Fielden-Kay, died in Manchester during the tour and was replaced by Dorothy Green.  Ernest was brought in to replace the First Witch, Jean Cadell, when she left the production.  The Piccadilly Theatre was severely damaged by a German bomb.  The production designer, John Minton, committed suicide in 1957.





Above, Ernest Thesiger, center, Dorothy Green, left, and Anne Esmond, right.

In 1950 a production of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It" would open on Broadway at the "Cort Theater" and run for 145 performances. The production starred Katherine Hepburn portraying "Rosalind", and Ernest Thesiger portraying "Jacques", seen below. Also in the cast was Cloris Leachman portraying "Celia", and William Prince portraying "Orlando".





As to Ernest Thesiger's on-screen career, between the above two plays, he appeared as a supporting film actor and in British television roles nineteen times. Staying with the subject of Shakespeare, on November 22, 1944, Thesiger portrayed the "Duke of Berri, the French Ambassador", in Sir Laurence Olivier's motion picture version of "Henry V", Olivier's on-screen title for the movie, was the full one written by William Shakespeare, "The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France".





In 1949, Ernest Thesiger appeared in what should be his primary role as a "Witch", in a two-part British television production of "Macbeth".

Thesiger was also seen in two productions based upon the works of  George Bernard Shaw. The first was the major 1945 motion picture version of Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra", starring Vivian Leigh and Claude Rains, with the actor as "Theodotus.






The second was a 1946 British television production of Shaw's, "Androcles and the Lion", with Ernest Thesiger portraying "Caesar". The TV production has been lost in time, because of RKO Pictures big budgeted release the same year starring Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, and Alan Young. 

From classic works of British literature to classic British science fiction:

THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT premiered in August 1951, at the Edinburgh Scotland International Film Festival





The motion picture was directed and co-written by Boston, Massachusetts born, Alexander Mackendrick, who returned to his parents homeland of Scotland and entered the motion picture industry. Among his other films as a director are 1955's, "The Ladykillers", starring Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, 1957's, "The Sweet Smell of Success", starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, and 1965's, "A High Wind to Jamaica", starring Anthony Quinn and James Colburn. Mackendrick would becomes the "Dean of the CalArts School of Film and Video", in Santa Clarita, California.

Besides Mackendrick, the motion picture was written by two others. The screenplay was based upon a play by co-screenplay writer, Rodger MacDougall. He had been writing since 1936 and in 1959, he wrote the screenplay for "The Mouse That Roared", starring Peter Sellers.

The third screenplay writer was John Dighton. Among his work are 1949's, "Kind Hearts and Coronets", starring Sir Alec Guinness and Valerie Hobson, and 1952's, "Roman Holliday", starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.


Sir Alec Guinness portrayed "Sidney Stratton". He had just been seen in 1951's, "The Lavender Hill Mob", co-starring with Stanley Holloway. Guinness would follow this motion picture with 1952's, "The Promoter", co-starring with Glynis Johns and Valerie Hobson.






Joan Greenwood portrayed "Daphne Birnley". Among Greenwood's other films are 1949's, "Kind Hearts and Coronets", 1954's, "Father Brown--Detective", co-starring with Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Finch, stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1961, version of French author Jules Verne's, "The Mysterious Island", and the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, 1978 comedy version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Hound of the Baskervilles".






Cecil Parker portrayed "Alan Birnley". Parker had just been seen in an episode of the American television anthology series, "Robert Montgomery Presents", entitled, "The Canterville Ghost", on November 20, 1950. He would follow this feature film with 1951's, "The Magic Box", starring Robert Donat and Maria Schell.






Michael Gough portrayed "Michael Corland". Tim Burton's future "Alfred", in 1989's, "Batman", had just starred in 1951's, "No Resting Place" and would follow this film with a British, 1951, television production of Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion". However, Gough would be known for his horror movies, such as 1958's, "Dracula" aka: "Horror of Dracula", 1959's, "Horrors of the Black Museum", 1961's, "Konga", and both 1965's, "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", and "The Skull".  My article, "MICHAEL GOUGH: Before and After Tim Burton's "Batman", can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2020/09/michael-gough-before-and-after-tim.html






Ernest Thesiger portrayed "Sir John Kierlaw". Thesiger had just been in the Alastir Sim's, 1951 comedy, "Laughter in Paradise", he would follow this feature with 1951's, "The Magic Box".






The Basic Screenplay:

"Sidney Stratton" is a brilliant research scientist, but has one flaw, he demands expensive research facilities to create his dream cloth and has been fired many times. "Sidney" now finds himself working as a day laborer at the "Birnley Mills. He accidently becomes a researcher for the mills and is able to create his dream cloth. 








"Sidney's" cloth is a luminous white material that will not absorb any color dyes, because it's also slightly radioactive. The mill owner and the managers see big profits. However, "Sidney" has the monetary rights to his cloth and has turned some of it into a white suit.









The mill owner, "Sir John Kierlaw, orders his managers to bribe "Sidney" to sign over the rights to his invention, but they fail.








Meanwhile, "Sidney" has shown his suit to his friends at work, but they're union and a fear of losing their jobs sets in with them, except for "Bertha", played by Vida Hope, below. His friends now turn on "Sidney". However, the union leaders also decide to get "Sidney" to sell to them the rights to his invention, supposedly  to save the jobs, but also for possible profit for themselves.












"Sir Kierlaw" and his managers come up with a  plan to have "Daphne", "Alan Birnley's" daughter, trick "Sidney" into giving up the secret for making his fabric. For her services, she demands and gets five-thousand English pounds.












However, "Daphne" has a change of heart and tells "Sidney" to let the world know of his invention. In the end everyone, managers and employees, are chasing "Sidney" in his luminous white suit. As it just falls apart on him as he's running from a breakdown of the chemical composition. The chasers catch him and ripping off the remaining pieces leaving him standing in his underwear. Later, the out of work "Sidney Stratton" goes over his notes and finds his error, smiles, and is off to find another employer.


The motion picture is a comedy, the motion picture story line is science fiction in nature, but underneath it's social commentary on England at the time and a favorite theme of Earling Studios during the period, the common man against the establishment 


Ernest Thesiger continued in character roles, he was "The Undertaker", in the Alastair Sim, 1951, version of author Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol". He was the "Emperor Tiberius" in the first CinemaScope motion picture, 1953's, "The Robe".





Thesiger was "The Vicomte" in 1954's, "Father Brown--Detective".





Above, Ernest Thesiger with Sir Alec Guinness.

Ernest Thesiger was the "Judge" in 1957's "The Truth About Women", starring Laurence Harvey, Julie Harris, and Diane Cilento.





The actor was "Mr. Hickson" in 1958's, "The Horse's Mouth", starring Sir Alec Guinness.





On December 25, 1961, Ernest Thesiger appeared in the role of "Stefano" in the Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty, "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone".




Above, Ernest Thesiger with Jill St. John portraying "Barbara Bingham".


ERNEST FREDERIC GRAHAM THESIGER
passed away on January 14, 1961, at the age of 81-years, in Chelsea London, England. He never was able to see his final on-screen performance.



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