Archive for Barbara Stanwyck

DAY FOUR of The William Castle Blogathon & Favourite Five Series: WILLIAM CASTLE

Posted in Favourite Five Series, horror, movies, USA, William Castle Blogathon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by goregirl

blogathon2Welcome to DAY FOUR of The William Castle Blogathon! I really can not thank the talented folks who have contributed to this event enough! Your entertaining features and your enthusiastic participation has made co-hosting this event an absolute pleasure! Hot Damn! You people rock!  And the Castle mayhem continues! We have a jammed-packed day of events for you so step right up! Let’s take a gander…

“Nobody Draws Faster Than Masterson of Kansas” My Kind of Story is ready to draw with his Masterson Of Kansas (1954) Image Gallery!
mok“Fate dials the number…terror answers the phone!”
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
reviews I Saw What You Did (1965)!
ISWYDShe Blogged by Night swam through a pool of sharks to bring you their review for Let’s Kill Uncle (1966)!
lkuMercy? Or no mercy? Anti-Film School reviews Mr. Sardonicus (1961)!
mr sardonicusLike your information graphic? Well The Droid You’re Looking For has just what you need! The William Castle Gimmick Infographic! Here’s an appetizer…
TOP: Macabre, House on Haunted Hill, Homicidal, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler
BOTTOM: Mr. Sardonicus, 13 Frightened Girls, Strait-Jacket, I Saw What You Did, Zotz
castleicons The Droid invites you to use these icons if you so desire.

Lights! Camera! Action! Scenes from the Morgue is showcasing newspaper ads for William Castle films!
castle1You don’t have to call ahead…just boogie right over to The Last Drive In to see the rest of the Castle-tastic lineup!!
Castle Rosemary Phone Booth

***Favourite Five Series: WILLIAM CASTLE***

This is the second entry in my Favourite Five Series; a post I intend on making a regular feature. William Castle has 63 director credits listed on IMDB. Castle was under contract with Columbia and directed several of their films through the 1940s and 50s. He earned a reputation through the period of being a director who could produce a competent film; do it quickly, and under budget. Castle grew tired of the contract work and was determined to make his own film. Castle mortgaged his house and made Macabre. Macabre was the first of his gimmick flicks; he gave out life insurance policies from Lloyd’s of London in case patrons should die of fright while watching the film. This is the period of Castle’s career that has been my focus. I have seen all seventeen films from Macabre onward directed by Castle. Six of the seventeen were first time watches for this feature and two of those first time watches made this list!

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)

Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr., Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman

Vincent Price made two films with William Castle in 1959; The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill. I am a huge fan of both films and a huge fan of Vincent Price. Vincent Price is one of my all time favourite actors who I have loved ever since I was a child. Vincent Price was all over the place when I was a kid. He was a regular on the game show Hollywood Squares (which my parents watched religiously), The Hilarious House of Frankenstein and Batman but it was all about his movies for me. I love all his 60s Corman flicks, The Last Man on Earth, Witchfinder General and especially my two very favourite Price flicks The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Theater of Blood. But before all those came House of Wax, The Fly, The Bat and of course William Castle’s The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill.
house on haunted hillIn House on Haunted Hill Vincent Price plays Frederick Loren; an eccentric millionaire who invites five people to a haunted house in honor of his wife Annabelle’s birthday. He offers each one $10,000 if they will stay the night. They only have a short time to decide because at midnight the doors are locked, and no one will be allowed to leave until the caretakers return in the morning. Vincent Price is not House on Haunted Hill’s only highlight. If you missed my Tuesday post The Women of Castle, Carol Ohmart was one of six women featured. Ohmart was inspiringly cast and is the perfect duelling partner for Mr. Price. Annabelle despises her husband through and through and they have some very entertaining and spirited conversations. Elisha Cook Jr. who plays the nervous Watson Pritchard is also a highlight. Pritchard spends the entire film wringing his hands and talking incessantly about murder and ghosts. House on Haunted Hill has a simple but compelling plot with a neat double cross/twist in the finale. Castle makes the most of the big rambling house and its many rooms and creates some nice atmosphere. The film is not without its suspense; it is not without its hokey elements either. Hokey or not; how can you not love that caretaker couple and that walking skeleton?! I’m loving the pit of acid in the basement; it is something every great villain should have equipped in their basement! And who doesn’t love party favors? Especially when they come in little coffin-shaped boxes! Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart’s performances are a massive highlight of House on Haunted Hill but it is also just a ton of fun! “Don’t stay up thinking of ways to get rid of me, it makes wrinkles.”
house on haunted hill1**********

SHANKS (1974)

Starring: Marcel Marceau, Tsilla Chelton, Philippe Clay, Cindy Eilbacher, Helena Kallianiotes, Larry Bishop, Don Calfa, Biff Manard, Mondo

m59757I was unable to find a trailer or clip for Shanks. As a matter of fact, I was unable to find much of anything on Shanks period. I am surprised they bothered to do lobby cards for the film. Pictured on the lobby card above is Marcel Marceau who plays Malcolm Shanks and Tsilla Chelton who plays Mrs. Barton (and was featured in my The Woman of Castle post). A shame this lobby card is black and white; I thought the film’s coloring was very appealing. Mrs. Barton’s striking red hair and lime green dress was a vision! As a matter of fact all of Mrs. Barton’s ensembles were a sight to see; like a twisted Holly Hobbie doll! It is a wonderful little touch to make her wardrobe something a doll might wear. I will explain that significance momentarily. Before the film begins we are told it is a “Grim Fairy Tale”. The film begins and ends with central character Malcolm Shanks putting on a puppet show. Shanks is a fantasy that twists the idea of reanimation into something very unique; twisting it into something that suits the talents of its star Marcel Marceau. In this fairy tale mute puppeteer Malcolm Shanks performs a puppet show for a group of kids. The group of joyful patrons includes Old Walker and Celia. Shanks and Celia are friends and he has promised to perform a puppet show for her birthday. Shanks lives with Mrs. Barton, the wife of his dead brother and pays rent as a tenant. Mrs. Barton is re-married to a drunk with a bad temper; the couple are not kind to Shanks. Shanks gets work with wealthy eccentric inventor Old Walker. Walker dies suddenly leaving behind his latest invention that can animate the inanimate. I shall not spoil how (Mr. Barton’s death is especially great) but the Barton’s meet their demise relatively early in the film. Mr. and Mrs. Barton spend the balance of the story as corpses controlled by puppeteer Malcolm Shanks. Celia learns of Shanks remote-controlled corpses and is initially horrified but relents to the idea cautiously. Celia celebrates her birthday with Shanks and is served cake by the Bartons which is when Shanks takes a dark turn. The chapter title reads “The Outside World of Evil”: which segues into a shot of a gang of bikers. One of the bikers is killed and the gang ends up bringing the body into Old Walker’s mansion where they are presently celebrating Celia’s birthday.
m59751Shanks is unlike anything else on Castle’s resume. I think it is such a unique and appealing entry. This was definitely a collaborative effort between Marcel Marceau and William Castle. Marceau apparently contributed significantly to every aspect of the film. Marceau’s speciality is mime and Shanks incorporates a lot of that type of body work in its plot. Corpses are controlled like puppets! Marceau plays dual roles in the film; Malcolm Shanks and Old Walker. As Old Walker he gets to do his thing and it is truly magic! Shanks has some difficulty getting accustomed to the re-animator’s controls and attempts to get Old Walker’s corpse from a horizontal position into an armchair. Like every scene in the film that features the re-animated characters it is a huge treat! Marceau is immensely talented! Giving him a run for his miming money is Tsilla Chelton a former member of his troupe in Paris and she is simply superb as Mrs. Barton. Revisiting Mrs. Barton’s wardrobe it seemed like a fitting detail to put her in doll-like dresses being that she was manipulated like one. Philippe Clay who plays Mr. Barton does some pretty great mime work also. Cindy Eilbacher was well-cast as Celia; she is sweet and likable but not at all sugary. The bikers have names like Genghis Kahn, Einstein and Goliath. Shanks features biker flick veteran Larry Bishop (The Savage Seven, Angel Unchained, Chrome and Hot Leather) who plays Napoleon and Don Calfa (Return of the Living Dead) who plays Einstein. The film is presented in chapters with these wonderful imaginative chapter titles. I wasn’t entirely happy with the way this GIF turned out so I did not include it in my Fun With GIFs post; for the sake of illustrating the chapters for you it works well enough.
shanks03Shanks is a fairy tale with a theatrical vibe…I could see it translating perfectly into a stage play. It is also not without its Grand-Guignol elements. Shanks is funny, surprising, clever, beautiful, well-acted, occasionally violent and it has Marcel Marceau and bikers! Shanks is a genuine one-of-a-kind entry from the 70s worth its weight in gold!

**********

HOMICIDAL (1961)

Starring: Joan Marshall (as Jean Arless), Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce, Richard Rust, James Westerfield, Gilbert Green

The trailers and promotional spots for William Castle flicks are such a delicious treat! I can not recommend more highly watching the above charming promotional bit for Castle’s 1961 film Homicidal. William Castle gets on-the-spot audience reactions to Homicidal. I particularly enjoyed the serious young man who shook Castle’s hand and told him “I think Alfred Hitchcock is going to have to go a long way to try to top something like this.” He surely went into sales when he got older. Castle gave out money back guarantees for those too frightened to see Homicidal’s shocking finale. You could leave the theatre during the fright break and get a refund but you had to stand in the Coward’s Corner until the audience was let out. When you paid .70 cents to see a William Castle movie you got your .70 cents worth! Castle went the distance to give audiences a special experience; but an evening with Homicidal’s Emily is well worth the price of admission on its own. Apparently my favourite William Castle films also feature my favourite female performances. Joan Marshall is another actress featured in my Women of Castle piece. Marshall is deviously delightful in Homicidal. Joan Marshall IS Homicidal. An attractive blond woman checks into a hotel under the name Miriam Webster. She offers a bellhop $2000 to marry her assuring him the marriage would be annulled immediately after. They drive to the home of a justice of the peace who Miriam stabs to death. We learn that she is the caretaker for a mute wheelchair-bound woman named Helga. The plot thickens when we meet the real Miriam Webster. We learn our former Miriam is actually Emily who is employed by Miriam’s half-brother Warren. We also learn Warren is about to come into a large fortune. Homicidal’s story is surprisingly dark and includes themes of child abuse and sexuality. It is a spoiler for me to divulge the sexual nature of the film; but I think most people will figure it out pretty quickly. Despite knowing the reveal/twist it did not spoil my enjoyment of Homicidal at all.
Homicidal lobby cardThe film drew comparisons to Psycho when it was released. Castle apparently held focus groups through his fan clubs asking members if they had seen and enjoyed Psycho and if they would go see a similar film. There is no denying a few similarities but Homicidal is uniquely William Castle and a fine thriller in its own right. Castle’s meaty opening sequence hooked me right away. Emily stabs the justice of the peace multiple times and the scene is surprisingly violent particularly for a film from 1961. Homicidal is an efficient little thriller with a lively pace and little unnecessary dialog. The highlight here as aforementioned is Emily. This callous, catty, confused, conniving, and cold-blooded murderess is in a class all her own. The attractive blond in her conservative gingham print dress threatening Helga her mute wheel-chair bound charge with her newly sharpened surgical knife is just one of copious “moments” for Emily. Emily has dozens of them and every freaking last one of them is a gem of unrestrained emotion! Angry, pouty, fretful, sad, irritated and homicidal; Emily emotes and emotes and emotes some more! Joan Marshall completely lets loose in the role of Emily and I really couldn’t imagine any one else in this role. It is too much fun watching her terrorize Helga; who evidently is no innocent party in this story. Actress Eugenie Leontovich is quite good as Helga despite not speaking a word. I enjoy this film more with every viewing. Homicidal is a good horror-thriller but it is Joan Marshall’s entertaining and memorable performance that makes it special.
Homicidal lobby card1

**********

THE NIGHT WALKER (1964)

Starring: Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Judi Meredith, Hayden Rorke, Rochelle Hudson, Jess Barker, Marjorie Bennett, Lloyd Bochner, Tetsu Komai

This was my first viewing of The Night Walker; William Castle’s 1964 horror-thriller written by Robert Bloch. The Night Walker stars Barbara Stanwyck as Irene Trent; it would be Stanwyck’s final feature film. Stanwyck stars opposite Robert Taylor whom she was married to from 1939 to 1951. The Night Walker was one of the last black and white films released by Universal and it is definitely a gem. Irene is in a bitterly unhappy marriage to blind millionaire inventor Howard Trent. Irene’s paranoid husband has been recording her and believes she is having an affair. Irene does indeed have a lover…in her dreams. Irene is talking sweet nothings in her sleep which is only increasing Howard’s paranoia. Irene is suddenly freed from her oppressive relationship when Howard dies in an explosion in his laboratory. Barbara decides to move out of the huge house and into a small apartment in the back of a beauty salon she owns. She begins to have increasingly vivid dreams that take on a decidedly nightmarish quality. The dreams are so vivid she feels certain they are not dreams at all. The Night Walker opens with the questions; What are dreams? What do they mean? What do you know about the secret world you visit when you sleep?” I desperately wanted to know! The visuals in the opening sequence of The Night Walker were absolutely fantastic! A trippy series of images, blinking eyeballs, flying women! The dream sequences through the entire film are all beautifully done. Particularly brilliant is a scene where Irene is swept away by her dream lover to a nightmare wedding attended and officiated over by mannequins! Unforgettable! I wish there had been more dream sequences! The effects are also well done. The melted face and dead white eyes of Howard Trent are quite haunting!
the night walkerThe Night Walker has an intriguing plot that kept me invested and Barbara Stanwyck is really fantastic in her role. She is empathetic and likable but never wishy-washy. Barbara Stanwyck is not only a talented actress she is one hell of a screamer! Bloody hell that woman can scream! She has a few pretty brilliant scenes where she shouts, screams and shakes her fists at the sky! “I cant wake up!” “I can’t wake up!” “I CAN’T WAKE UP!” Robert Taylor plays Barry Moreland; Howard’s lawyer, and the only person allowed inside the estate. I found Barry a little on the stiff side personally but apparently he was very attractive to woman. Irene is attracted to Barry but they don’t dwell on this, it is more of a passing observation. The chemistry between Barry and Irene was comfortable enough but not particularly endearing. I enjoyed Taylor in the role nonetheless. The neat little soundtrack by Vic Mizzy is a nice compliment to the film. I posted a piece of music from the The Night Walker yesterday. The Night Walker is one of Castle’s strongest stories and is a great little horror thriller with a perfect mood and atmosphere and excellent performances well worth seeing just to get an earful of Barbara Stanwyck screaming.
the-night-walker**********

THE TINGLER (1959)

Starring: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln, Philip Coolidge


The Tingler is a favourite from childhood. I was born long after The Tingler came out in theatres but I watched a lot of classic horror as a kid thanks to my father who was a huge fan. The Tingler would have been a pretty fabulous film-going experience though. Castle presented The Tingler in Percepto. Percepto allowed certain “more sensitive” audience members to feel what the characters on-screen allegedly feel. Buzzers were tucked under random seats in the theatre to buzz butts at appropriate moments. Add some planted audience members who pretend to faint and are carried out by doctors and you get so much more than just a movie! What a hoot! The only way to stop The Tingler is to scream! “Don’t forget…screaming will save your life!” Pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin believes that a powerful creature created by fear manifests itself on the spine leaving it cracked. He nicknames the phenomena The Tingler and is desperate to prove his theory true. He gets a chance to do so after meeting Ollie Higgins and his mute wife Martha. If screaming can paralyze the creature and effectively kill it, what would happen if a person could not scream? That is an outrageous premise; almost as outrageous as The Tingler itself. The Tingler looks like a fat spinal cord with legs and two big antennae….it also looks a lot like a silverfish actually. I enjoy the hell out of The Tingler but that may be one of the most un-frightening creatures ever created. I would almost go so far as to say cute. In fact, i would probably buy a Tingler plush! Don’t get me wrong, The Tingler is very much part of The Tingler’s charm! All the scenes featuring The Tingler are superbly fun; especially the movie theatre scene!
Tinglergif3You also get to see Vincent Price having an acid trip! Dr. Chapin is seen reading “Fright Effects Induced By Injection Of Lysergic Acid LSD25 – A Preliminary Report.” The Tingler was allegedly the first film to feature the use of acid as a drug. Price’s trip is too great! Price of course is super fantastic as Dr. Chapin. I could watch Vincent Price making paper airplanes for 90 minutes. Although brief, I enjoyed the banter between Dr. Chapin and his wife Isabel played by Patricia Cutts. Isabel enjoys reminding her husband that without her he would have nothing. All the cast are good but Judith Evelyn who plays Martha Higgins is a real standout. Martha of course does not utter a word the entire film. Martha and her husband Ollie own a repertoire theatre that plays silent films. The intense and animated Martha seems as though she may be a star of the silent screen herself. Evelyn does a wonderful job. The Tingler has some neat visuals that quite impressed me. A splash of color in a black and white film is going to catch your eye; and the blood-filled bathtub in The Tingler is certainly a dazzler! The Tingler is camplicious entertainment and it is camp that boasts solid performances, some well-executed effects and a lot of creativity!

Tinglergif1

DAY TWO of The William Castle Blogathon & The Women of Castle

Posted in movies, USA, William Castle Blogathon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by goregirl

Castle Blogathon Banner

Welcome to day two of The William Castle Blogathon! Today I have The Women of Castle for you, but first let’s check to see what other Castle goodness our contributors have in store for us…

Silver Scenes have harnessed the awesome power of Emergo to bring you their fabulous features The Films of William Castle AND Busy Bodies: Promoting Castle’s Camp.
13 Ghosts

“Innocence stands face to face with terror!” “She sees too much! She knows too much!” Read Mondo Heather’s review of 13 Frightened Girls! (1963) & her Bio on William Castle!
13-frightened-girls

“Terror Over Texas!” Speakeasy has a review for William Castle’s 1956 film The Houston Story.
houstonstory

Go check out The Last Drive In’s feature William Castle’s Villains and Victims In wondrous Scream-O Vision! PLUS! EVEN more awesomely, spectacular, superterrific William Castle contributions!!
ISWYD

***THE WOMEN OF CASTLE***

My focus for The William Castle Blogathon was his “horror years” which began with Macabre in 1958. Between 1958 and 1974 Castle made 17 films. While there were a few exceptions like The Busy Body which was a comedy and Project X which was science fiction the majority of these titles were horror, or at least had enough horror elements to squeeze it into the genre. I have stayed within the horror years for all of my features but I did make one exception for The Women of Castle. The one and only film I visited that was outside of my focus was It’s a Small World. I was so impressed with Lorraine Miller’s performance in It’s a Small World I had to include her on my list. Below are six women from William Castle films that I felt gave particularly memorable and outstanding performances.

JOAN MARSHALL (as Jean Arless) in Homicidal

Joan Marshall was born in Chicago in 1931. Marshall started out as a Showgirl at Chicago’s Chez Paree and was soon appearing in Las Vegas productions. In Vegas she met her first husband whom she had two children with. They moved to California where Joan got work on television shows like Bold Venture and The Red Skelton Show. She was also cast as Phoebe Munster in the original pilot for The Munsters but was replaced by Yvonne De Carlo.
Joan Marshall in The Munsters as Phoebe MunsterMarshall was in just a handful of feature films. Among these films was William Castle’s Homicidal (1961). Joan chose to use the pseudonym Jean Arless allegedly so she could make it disappear from her resume. Joan co-wrote TV sitcom scripts with her childhood friend Dirk Wayne Summers and married director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Being There). Ashby’s film Shampoo is based on Joan’s life. Joan and Hal stayed married until his death in 1988. Joan married Mel Bartfield in 1989 and eventually moved to Jamaica where she died in 1992 at the age of 61. It seems a shame that Joan Marshall wasn’t in more feature films. There is a reason she is at the top of this list; she kicks some serious ass! In Homicidal Joan Marshall plays dual roles but the vast majority of her screen time she is Emily. Emily is attractive, well-dressed and holds herself with confidence; if only she could keep her emotions in check! Emily is employed by the often absent Warren; charged with the care of an elderly wheelchair-bound woman named Helga. Poor Helga does get more than her share of Emily’s Homicidalness! When we meet Emily she is checking into a hotel and propositioning a bellhop. Emily gets up into all kinds of no good; emoting and a-killing she is! Emily is a fantastic character! Melodramatic, demure, catty, conniving, sexy, and….homicidal! Emily has some delicious dialog but it is her dramatics that stand out; Marshall’s range of emotions was impressive and her expressions are priceless! Joan Marshall’s performance in Homicidal is unrestrained perfection.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-100130Count it.

1900 bucks…”

2000 all together….yours.”

Who do I have to murder?

No one.”

What do I have to do?”

Marry me…on the 6th of September.”

Wow. That wouldn’t be so hard to take, even without this.”

Very well. One other thing; the marriage will be annulled immediately after the ceremony.”
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101256screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101456Joan Marshall as Emily…emoting.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103515screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103530“What kind of knife did you say this was? Never seen one before.”

“It’s a surgical knife…doctors use it.”

“What do you use it for?”

“Various things.”

screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104805screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104854screenshot-from-2013-07-21-105048“At least you won’t scream the way Warren did when he was a little boy. Out here in the woods; no one could hear him scream. Could they?! I never liked your eyes Helga…they see too much!”

*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-102526Joan Marshall plays dual roles in Homicidal. Here she is as Warren.

**********

JOAN CRAWFORD in Strait-Jacket

Where does one even begin with the life and career of Joan Crawford? The woman had a long and illustrious career in film from 1925 – 1972; she has 104 acting credits on IMDB. Joan Crawford was born March 23, 1906 in San Antonio TX. Her career started in dancing; she was discovered by a producer while touring with a musical revue. In 1924 she signed a contract with MGM and it was decided that her birth name Lucille LeSueur should be changed; readers of a fan magazine chose her new name Joan Crawford. Crawford would be featured in several successful films for MGM through the 20s and 30s including one of my favourite’s Tod Browning’s The Unknown (1927). Crawford has been quoted as saying she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anyone else through her career. “It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.”
The UnknownIn the late 30s her popularity began to wane and in 1943 her contract with MGM was mutually terminated. She than signed a deal with Warner Brothers and made the film Mildred Pierce which won her an Oscar for best actress. Her career experienced a resurgence and she had a good run but in 1952 asked to be released from her Warner contract. She would continue to work steadily through the fifties and made the hugely successful What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Bette Davis in 1962. Apparently Castle seen What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 17 times and it was his dream to have one of its stars featured in a film. His dream came true when Crawford agreed to star in Strait-Jacket but under her terms.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-203957Caviar and special liquor in her dressing room, actresses fired at her request, sets kept icy cold so her face would stay tight; that is some seriously divaesque behavior. Castle pretty much let Crawford do whatever she wanted. According to her co-star Diane Baker (who plays her daughter Carol), Crawford was unhappy with the ending as it did not focus on her and had Castle change it. There is no doubt about it, this is Crawford’s film. She chews up the scenery every time she is on screen; which is a goodly portion of the film.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205425Crawford plays Lucy Harbin a woman released from an asylum after twenty years of institutionalization. She moves in with her brother and his wife who adopted her young daughter Carol when she was sent away. Carol is all grown up and a sculptor who is in love with the son of a wealthy dairy owner. Lucy attempts to adjust but soon people begin disappearing making her the obvious suspect.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205544Despite Lucy being sent home “cured” she never seems right. Lucy is paranoid, twitchy, excitable and emotional at regular intervals. Lucy is also empathetic at times. Lucy is haunted by the ghosts of her past and any number of things can set her off. Carol takes Lucy shopping and buys her new clothes and a wig and she seems to become possessed by the garments. A scene where she seduces Carol’s boyfriend in her new garb is particularly memorable. Joan Crawford gives an inspired performance in Strait-Jacket worth applauding.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210015Lucy all dolled up.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210055Lucy in more comfortable attire.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210349A fantastic scene where Lucy trips out believing she is trapped in the small, striped wallpapered room.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210755Straight-Jacket’s finale; Joan’s way.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-222602Joan Crawford also had a supporting role in William Castle’s I Saw What you Did; pictured here with John Ireland.

**********

CAROL OHMART in House on Haunted Hill

Carol Ohmart was born in Salt Lake City, Utah July 3, 1927. Ohmart received the title of Miss Utah in 1946 and won fourth place in the Miss America Pageant. This led her to modelling and television commercials which led her to signing with Paramount Pictures in 1955.
screenshot-from-2013-07-23-184650The above pic is Carol Ohmart as Emily Howe in Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told. Looking at the wonderful Ms. Ohmart’s resume it appears to me that she was a seriously underutilized actress. According to IMDB it appears she made just nine feature-length films; the majority of her credits are in television. I have only seen two of Ms. Ohmart’s feature films; Spider Baby, Or the Maddest Story Ever Told (one of my favourite films of all time!) and House on Haunted Hill (the reason she is on this list). These two outstanding credits and Ms. Ohmart’s superb performance in each is worth celebrating!
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180503In House on Haunted Hill Carol Ohmart plays Annabelle Loren. Annabelle is in an unhappy marriage to eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. The couple loathe one another which makes for some snappy and extremely entertaining dialog! Carol Ohmart holds her own with the legendary Vincent Price and even betters him once or twice during their banter. She is strong, confident, sexy and seething with hatred for her husband. The expression on her face when Frederick touches her says it all. Omhart’s body language and facial expressions are perfection. House on Haunted Hill is worth watching just based on Carol Ohmart’s performance and her spirited jousts with Vincent Price. Ohmart is a beautiful talented actress who should have been in more films! Long retired from acting the lovely Ms. Ohmart celebrated her 86th birthday on July 3.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180548Frederick and Annabelle sharing some champagne and jabs.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184007Annabelle looking particularly ravishing.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184646This picture does not do Annabelle’s nightgown justice.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185241A concerned Annabelle.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185810A frightened Annabelle.
Carol OhmartCarol Ohmart rocks!

**********

TSILLA CHELTON in Shanks

French actress Tsilla Chelton was born June 21, 1919. After settling in Paris she met and married decorator Jacques Noël. Chelton started acting in Marcel Marceau’s troupe and went on to have a successful career in theatre. She acted in several plays based on the writing of Eugene Ionesci and even won a Moliere Award for her work in Ionesco’s The Chairs. She worked alongside such actors as Michel Serrault and Michel Piccoli. Chelton taught comedy in the early 60s to the likes of Michel Blanc. Chelton did a fair amount of television and film work also. Chelton has 71 credits spanning 1962 to 2013. Her final film Landes has yet to be released.
TSILLA CHELTONThe above picture is Tsilla Chelton in the lead role of Etienne Chatiliez’s 1990 film Tatie Danielle. Chelton was nominated for a César Award for Best Actress for her role. I was so smitten by her performance in Shanks I added Tatie Danielle to my queue.

In Shanks Chelton plays the salty Mrs. Barton. Mute puppeteer Malcolm Shanks was the brother of Mrs. Barton’s first husband and now pays rent as a tenant. Mrs. Barton is re-married to an alcoholic with a bad temper; although she clearly has control of their relationship. The couple is not kind to Shanks which makes what follows so much more delicious and rewarding. The couple meet their demise relatively early in the film and spend the balance as corpses controlled by puppeteer Malcolm Shanks. Fun fact; William Castle has a cameo as the owner of a market Shanks visits with the Bartons. Marcel Marceau had significant input on William Castle’s Shanks. I am guessing that Chelton was handpicked seeing as she acted in Marcel Marceau’s troupe in Paris. That goes a long way to explain why her body work is so superb! She is required to do a great deal of physical work in Shanks and she is truly marvelous. I am also not the least bit surprised to learn she taught comedy; her comedic timing and delightfully quirky accent are top drawer! Chelton’s performance is a huge highlight of Castle’s wonderful and unique film! The immensely talented Tsilla Chelton died July 15, 2012 at the age of 93.

***A super huge MERCI BEAUCOUP to David Arrate at My Kind of Story who was kind enough to donate these pics. Watch for Mr. Arrate’s feature It’s a Small World, Malcolm Shanks on August 2***
MrsBarton(1)Tsilla Chelton as Mrs. Barton; in curlers. It takes some big curlers to set that big do!
MrsBarton(3)Shanks10Puppeteer Malcolm Shanks beautifully captures Mrs. Barton in doll form.
shanksShanks22Malcolm puts on a puppet show using the corpses of Mr. & Mrs. Barton. One of many fine examples of Ms. Chelton’s outstanding body work.
William Castle Shanks (03)Shanks05The Barton’s help celebrate Celia’s birthday. Another wonderful Chelton moment.

**********

LORRAINE MILLER in It’s a Small World

There is very little information out there about actress Lorraine Miller. I contemplated leaving her off the list due to the lack of information I could find. I watched several William Castle films over the past few weeks for this feature. Some were re-watches and a few were first time viewings. One of those first time viewings was It’s A Small World. It’s a Small World is about the hardships of little people. It is Harry Musk’s story. Upon learning that Harry would no longer grow, his father pulled him out of school and hid him from the world. His sister resents him and refuses to bring friends home out of embarrassment. Harry eventually decides to begin a life of his own. Lorraine Miller plays Buttons a character Harry meets on his journey. The lovely Lorraine Miller is so damn likable as Buttons it really stung when it is revealed that she is not what she seems. I can’t imagine how poor Harry must have felt! Despite the lack of information on Ms. Miller’s acting career she deserves to be on this list. She really does give a memorable performance that was one of my favourites through my Castle viewing.

Lorraine Miller3

The above picture is a promotional shot of Ms. Miller for Andrew L. Stone’s 1943 film Hi Diddle Diddle. Lorraine Miller was born January 5, 1922 in Flint Michigan. In 1940 she won a contest where she was crowned Rodeo Queen and the reward was a contract with MGM. Apparently she shared a room with Donna Reed when she first arrived in California. Miller has 34 acting credits listed on IMDB but several of them are noted as uncredited. Her first significant part was in the 1943 Western Beyond the Last Frontier, but several more uncredited roles followed. In 1945 she had a small part in Between Two Women along side Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Lionel Barrymore and Gloria DeHaven. A starring role would follow in the 1945 film The White Gorilla. She was in several Westerns through the forties including Border Badman, Ambush Trail and Trouble at Melody Mesa.

Lorraine MillerWilliam Castle’s It’s a Small World (1950) was her second last feature film. In It’s a Small World Miller plays Buttons; nicknamed on account of her affinity for buttons which adorn everything she wears. Buttons is a femme fatale that uses her charms to lure Harry into a scheme. Despite his nativity Harry knows what Buttons is asking him to do is wrong but he agrees just the same. Harry just wants to be close to Buttons. And who wouldn’t? Buttons is a beautiful woman; beguiling, kind and a lot of fun. Harry and Buttons become fast friends. Unfortunately for Harry, Buttons’ friendship comes with an agenda. Lorraine Miller is delightful in this role; she made me smile, she made me angry and she broke my heart. Miller has a wonderful natural ease and plays Buttons with strength and confidence. I got the feeling Buttons was the kind of woman who has taken her knocks in life and refuses to let it keep her down. Miller gives an irresistible performance in It’s a Small World worth the price of admission. Lorraine Miller died February 6, 1978 in Los Angeles California.

It's a Small World (3)(1)It's a Small World (6)When Harry sees a woman living across the hall being roughed up he jumps to her aid. The woman introduces herself as Buttons.
MBDITAA EC007Harry and Buttons share some soda and laughs.
LORRAINE MILLER1Buttons; so named because of her affinity for buttons.
lorraine-millerButtons broke my heart.

**********

BARBARA STANWYCK in The Night Walker

I thought summarizing Joan Crawford’s long, successful career was brutal until I started working on Barbara Stanwyck! Ms. Stanwyck has 106 actress titles listed on IMDB; and most of those are leading roles. The critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning actress also seemed to be both liked and respected by her peers and everyone else she came in contact with. There is tons of information about Barbara Stanwyck out there and I did not stumble upon a single negative comment or divaesque story about her. Barbara Stanwyck was born July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn NY. Stanwyck was only four years old when her mother was pushed from a streetcar by a drunk and killed. Her father joined a work crew a short time later and was never heard from again. Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens and along with her brother Byron was raised by her older sister Mildred. Stanwyck wanted to be a performer and at the age of sixteen she was hired by the Ziegfeld Follies. While working as a chorus girl she met Willard Mack who gave her a role in his play The Noose and LaHiff. Stanwyck had a successful run on Broadway and Hollywood soon came a-knocking. Stanwyck married fellow actor Frank Fay and the two moved to Hollywood. Apparently their marriage ended badly; the film A Star is Born (1937) is allegedly based on Stanwyck and Fay’s marriage. Her first role was a bit part in Joseph C. Boyle’s Broadway Nights (1927) but starring roles immediately followed. Stanwyck was a natural! A few of her early highlights included Frank Capra’s Ladies of Leisure (1930), William A. Wellman’s Night Nurse (1931), Alfred E. Green’s Baby Face (1933) and George Stevens’ Annie Oakley (1935).
Stella DallasStanwyck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for the 1937 film Stella Dallas (Anne Shirley was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress). She was nominated three more times for Best Actress for Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948); Stanwyck did not take home a statue until she received an honorary Oscar in 1982. Stanwyck’s career began to decline in the late 1950s; nonetheless she made a few films that are gems in my book including the reason she is on this list; William Castle’s The Night Walker.
The Night WalkerThe Night Walker would be the last feature film Barbara Stanwyck would make. Stanwyck eventually made the move to television. She played three roles in the series Wagon Train (61 – 64) but is probably better known as the matriarch of the Barkley family in The Big Valley (my mom’s favourite TV show of all time). Her television career ended with The Colbys (85 -86).
The Night Walker1In The Night Walker Barbara Stanwyck plays Irene Trent. Irene is a woman in a bitterly unhappy marriage. Her husband Howard is a wealthy blind inventor who believes Irene is having an affair. He goes to great lengths to discover proof of her infidelity. Irene is indeed having an affair…in her dreams. When Howard is killed in an explosion in his laboratory Irene is suddenly free from their oppressive relationship. Or is she? Murder, mystery and betrayal abound!
The Night Walker2My first viewing of The Night Walker was about a week ago for this blogathon. It turned out to be one of my favourite watches! While I love and adore Castle’s camp, I was thoroughly impressed by the mystery and atmosphere in The Night Walker; and those dream sequences are really something else! I wish there had been more of those dream sequences!
The Night Walker4Stanwyck is the focus of The Night Walker and she goes through a wide range of emotions through the film. She is a smart and tough woman albeit slightly beaten that begins to question her own sanity. Irene frets, shakes her fists and refuses to lose grip! That wonderful raspy voice of Stanwyck’s is well utilized by Castle. Stanwyck can scream like a banshee! Not everyone is capable of a good horror scream. According to IMDB Gary Oldman couldn’t scream to Coppola’s satisfaction in Dracula; they had to bring in Lux Interior of The Cramps as a scream double. That is not meant as a slight against Oldman; all I am saying is some folks can scream and some just can’t. My girl Barbara can scream!
The Night Walker3Barbara Stanwyck is empathetic and likable as Irene. Irene is frightened and questioning her sanity but she maintains a strength and faces her fear head on. As far as I am aware, Barbara Stanwyck never gave a bad performance and The Night Walker is certainly no exception. Stanwyck was a no-brainer choice for a list of my favourite women of Castle.
stanwyckladyofburlesqueThrough my research of Barbara Stanwyck my curiosity was aroused by the title Lady of Burlesque (1943). It is available to watch on IMDB archives so I thought I’d share my find. It is based on the book by Gypsy Rose Lee.