Thursday, August 11, 2005
At long last [for me anyway] the films of producer Val Lewton are coming out on dvd in great 5 pack collection including Cat People, The Curse of the Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Seventh Victim [ a favourite] , The Leopard Man, the Ghost Ship, The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead and Bedlam. I love these old atmospheric black and white movies from the 40's. Lewton wrote most of these films but never took credit and gave first time directors like Robert Wise and Jaques Torneur their directing breaks. The Ghost Ship, the only film I haven't seen yet is included. The film had legal troubles and was never shown after its initial release. There was laserdisc copy a few years back but i never saw it. Looking forward to making a batch of popcorn and settling down with that one.
Lewton was a pretty interesting character. He wrote one of the first books on the depression "No Bed of Her Own" and was big shot independant hollywood producer David O Selznicks story editor and tried to talk him out of buying Gone with the Wind.
Another time, Selznick was going to do Charles Dickens' David Copperfield and he asked if Lewton knew the book which he did and was told to show up at Selznicks house at 10 the next mourning. Lewton studied up on Dickens for the big meeting and the next morning drove the 20 miles to Selznicks hoous, arrived on time and was shown to the bathroom where Selznick was sitting on the toilet. "How old is Olver Twist when the story begins? he asked. Lewton told him. "Freddie Bartholomew is too old for that" Selznick said and told Lewton to go home.
That kind of story always reminds of the film producer in Barton Fink who always makes me laugh my head off.
Lewton left Selznick to head up the small b horror movie division at RKO and make these great and influential films.