TV & Film
#79 - MAN MADE MONSTER (1941)
We begin 2019 with the first new show in our Universal Horrors of the 1940's series.
MAN MADE MONSTER (1941) marks the first Universal horror staring role for Creighton Chaney a.k.a. Lon Chaney, Jr. Given the part of a lovable lug misused by one of the screen's maddest mad scientists, Chaney establishes the perfect acting style for his character. With his hang-dog eyes, broad grin and furrowed brow he presents himself as a good natured, kind fellow without an unpleasant thought for anyone. This performance would serve as the template for his future roles in Universal horror films as the much put upon victim of a certain lunar curse. But this is the starting point for that 'doomed man' characterization and it's a good one for both the actor and the film.
Troy and I pull this one apart with the usual help of the fantastic Universal Horrors book by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas which provides a lot of background and contemporary reviews. We also heavily reference the excellent essay by Bryan Senn on this film from the Lon Chaney, Jr. Midnight Marquee Actors series book. His work is essential reading for fans of the actor and those looking for real insight into this underappreciated movie. We discuss the odd notion of having a good scientist and a bad scientist under the same roof; the strange case of the missing romantic subplot; the late blooming lust of the mad scientist for the film's lovely co-star; the 'master race' desires that drive the plot and the dividing line that keeps pets alive in a horror film. We talk about director George Waggoner's work before and after this effort as well as the years long trail the story took to finally reach the screen. We also spend a lot of time heaping praise on the great Lionel Atwill's amazing performance as the crazed man seeking knowledge to keep the lower classes in their places!
In the final segment of the show we read out a pair of emails from listeners and dive into the various topics they bring up. On what other podcast will you hear discussions of the Italian Filmirage production company's output (Ator!) paired with a critique of Hammer's four mummy films? If you'd like to let us know what you think on these subjects, or any others, we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or over on the show's FaceBook page. Thank you for downloading and listening!
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