Sunday, May 22, 2022

RARE DWIGHT FRYE LETTER


This rare and highly-collectible letter from Dwight Frye to his mother was written just two days before his death from a heart attack, ironically on the way home from the movies with his family.



The following is the lot description from the auction item:

Dwight Frye Handwritten Letter To His Mother, Two Days Before his Death. To vintage horror fans, Dwight Frye is a virtual superstar. In Dracula, he played Bela Lugosi's servant Renfield, gobbling flies and spiders and giggling the creepiest laugh in the movies. In Frankenstein, he portrayed Fritz, Colin Clive's hunchbacked dwarf assistant, beholding the creation of Karloff's hapless Monster and torturing the creature with whip and torch. Yet these gothic roles carried a curse, typecasting the former Broadway star and eventually condemning him to bit part obscurity. Fans rarely recognized him or asked him for an autograph (possibly based on Dracula and Frankenstein, because they were afraid to do so!) and collectable material on him is extremely rare.

This letter is extraordinary, written by Frye to his mother (whom he called "Muzzie") on 7.25" x 10.25" stationery and dated November 5, 1943 -- two days before he died. Frye writes from his Hollywood home that he's awaiting that morning the delivery of a chair (he and his wife Laura had sold their refrigerator to afford the new chair and a desk). He continues with news that he's ordered the family's turkey for Thanksgiving (which they plan to celebrate the Sunday after the holiday). He notes, "Haven't been out to have my wig tried on but expect a call any day now", a reference to the 20th Century-Fox film Wilson (he'd won the role of Newton D. Baker, secretary of war, and hoped it would spark his failing career; Fox was preparing a hairpiece for him to wear in the part). He notes that he is "working hard at the plant" (he'd taken a job as a tool designer at the Douglas aircraft factory in Santa Monica at night while seeking film work by day). He hopes to complete a course at UCLA if he has the time and notes that his son Buddy, then 12-years old, is painting some things in his room. He expresses appreciation for his mother canning vegetables ("we'll be grateful all winter") and concludes, "Love from us all. Dwight."

Two evenings later, Frye took Laura and Buddy to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. As they boarded the bus for home, he suffered a heart attack, dying at 11:15 that night at Hollywood Receiving Hospital. He was only 44 years old.

SOLD ON OCT 4, 2008 FOR: $2,390.00

TITLE IMAGE CREDIT: Painting of Dwight Frye by John Springfield from Fine Art America.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

A TRIBUTE TO DWIGHT FRYE


Largely unheralded during his career, Dwight Frye has since become an iconic character actor in the canon of the classic Universal horror films. While he played roles in numerous other non-genre films, his portrayal of Fritz in James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN (1931) has assured his place in cinematic history.

Who can forget Henry Frankenstein's diminutive hunchback assistant, scurrying around nervously about the laboratory among Kenneth Strickfaden's machines and equipment? In my estimation, two of his most memorable scenes are when he scrambles down the stairs to answer the door, then stops to pull up his sock, and when he breaks into Dr. Waldman's lab to steal a brain and drops the "normal" one when he backs into a hanging skeleton. Most likely the two scenes are all of Whale's design, but Frye pulls them off magnificently. 

This article from the April, 1974 issue of the great little magazine, FILM FAN MONTHLY (#154) includes one of the earliest comprehensive articles on his career.

Come back tomorrow for the second half of the Wom tribute to Dwight Frye.






Friday, May 20, 2022

FLASH GORDON NO. 3 (KING COMICS)


FLASH GORDON
Vol. 1 No. 3
January, 1967
King Features Syndicate, Inc. (King Comics)
Editor: Bill Harris
Cover art: Al Williamson
Pages: 36
Cover price: 12 cents

CONTENTS
"Lost in the Land of the Lizard Men" (Flash Gordon)
Script: Bill Peason
Art: Ric Estrada

"The Little Giant" (Mandrake the Magician)
Script: ?
Pencils: ?
Inks: ?
Letters: Ben Oda

"Flash Gordon Meets Monolith, Champion of Mongo!" (Flash Gordon)
Script: Bill Pearson
Art: Ric Estrada



































RARE 1931 FRANKENSTEIN PROMOTIONAL


This 1931 promotional folio for Universal's FRANKENSTEIN sold at auction in 2013 for $3,346.00. Because of the probable high cost to make these during that time, it is thought that there were very few of these made. A rare Frankenstein collectible!


Thursday, May 19, 2022

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ/JACQUELINE BISSET GALLERY


Based on the novel by Fred Mustard Stewart, THE MEPHISTO WALTZ (1971) hit the theaters in a continuation of the 1960's fascination with the occult and witchcraft. Being interested in such subjects at the time, I enjoyed the film, although for some reason, it seemed like I was watching a TV movie on the big screen. It just had that look and feel. The effective score by Jerry Goldsmith raises the film up a notch.

The reviews were largely positive (not overwhelming) except for Roger Ebert's skewering: "If a horror movie is to be taken seriously, it has to pretend to take horror seriously. And this one doesn't. It reduces magic to a simpleminded ritual that anyone can perform: all our heroine has to do is steal some funny blue stuff and read pig Latin out of a book. The magic works for her, too.

"The casting (Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Barbara Parkins, Curt Jurgens) is expensive, and so is the production. But you get the notion that the people who made the film didn't take magic seriously enough. I don't mean they should believe in it; but they should have made a film that pretended to."

Today THE MEPHISTO WALTZ is considered average occult horror movie fare and doesn't seem to agree with most reviewers. However, like many other films of this type it should be assessed by the time in which is was made, and with that thought, I feel it's worth a watch.

This synopsis from allmovie.com, sums up the story:
Adapted from a Fred Mustard Stewart novel, this offbeat occult thriller stars Alan Alda (just prior to his eleven-year stint on M*A*S*H) as journalist and burgeoning musician Myles Clarkson, whose long-sought interview with ailing concert pianist (and closet Satanist) Duncan Ely (Curt Jurgens) leads to a mysterious ritual in which Ely's soul is transferred into Clarkson's body at the moment of the elder man's death. Further complications ensue when Myles' wife Paula (Jacqueline Bisset) discovers the none-too-subtle change in her husband's behavior, and she is pulled deeper into Ely's twisted circle. The plot thickens as further soul-swapping, dark family secrets, and demonic possession come into play. A heavy sense of doom pervades this bizarre film, thanks to some offbeat cinematography and eerie music, as well as some truly shocking setpieces courtesy of prolific TV director Paul Wendkos, who helmed the excellent Legend of Lizzie Borden. The prosaic Alda lacks the dangerous edge his character demands, but Bisset's performance is chillingly effective.

Below is the one-sheet poster and lobby cards. Following is a Jacqueline Bisset gallery, who, along with the dark beauty Barbara Parkins, added some welcome glamour to the proceedings.

See my THE MEPHISTO WALTZ scrapbook post HERE.