Horror Scenes That I Love: Lon Chaney Transforms Into The Wolfman

Today’s horror scene that I love comes from 1941’s The Wolf Man.  Watch as poor Larry Talbot transforms, for the first time, into The Wolf Man!  I’ll be the first to admit that, in the past, I’ve been pretty critical of Larry as a character and Lon Chaney, Jr.’s performance in the role.  But, in this scene, Chaney does an excellent job of capturing Larry’s helplessness as the curse takes effect for the first time.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Edward Van Sloan Introduces Frankenstein

For our first Scene that I love for this year’s Horrorthon, I’m sharing the opening of the 1931 classic, Frankenstein.  The scene below features neither Colin Clive or Boris Karloff.  Instead, Edward Van Sloan breaks the fourth wall and, in his humorously avuncular way, lets the audience know what’s in store for them.

Today, of course, we all know the story of Frankenstein and his monster.  However, imagine how audiences in 1931, many of whom probably knew nothing about the story they were about to watch, must have felt when Edward Van Sloan specifically took a minute to warn them that they were about to see something terrifying.  You have to remember that Van Sloan was talking to the first generation of regular filmgoers and he was introducing them to one of the first true horror films of the sound era.  Today, it’s easy to smile when Van Sloan says, “You can’t say we didn’t warn you.”  In 1931, I imagine it probably sounded more like a dare.  Van Sloan was asking, “Do you have the courage to stay in theater?”  It’s kind of charming, isn’t it?

Edward Van Sloan was a bit of fixture when it came to the early Universal horror films.  Not only did he play Henry Frankenstein’s mentor but, in the same year, he played Prof. Van Helsing in Dracula.  He also had a key supporting role in The Mummy.  When it came to explaining the supernatural and the undead, no one else did it with quite the class of Edward Van Sloan.

Scenes That I Love: The Conclusion of The Passenger

Today’s scene that I love comes from 1975’s The Passenger, a film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.  Antonioni was born 110 years ago today, in what was then the “Kingdom of Italy.”

In The Passenger, Jack Nicholson plays a journalist who, because he’s bored with his life, impulsively assumes the identity of a deceased American businessman.  What he discovers is that the businessman was an arms dealer and that the people that the arms dealer were doing business with still expect to get their weapons.  Despite the fact that he knows that it might cost him his life, Nicholson is still drawn to see just how far he can take his new existence.

The film’s enigmatic final scene, in which Nicholson goes to a hotel to wait as both the people who double-crossed and his wife search for him, is Antonioni at his best.

Scenes That I Love: Coyote Shivers and Renee Zellweger perform “Sugar High” in Empire Records

It’s not Rex Manning Day but it is Coyote Shivers’s birthday!

Here, he and Renee Zellweger do their part to save the store by performing Sugar High on the roof.

Scenes That I Love: Giovanni Lombardo Radice Dances in The House on The Edge of the Park

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy 68th birthday to the great Italian actor, Giovanni Lombardo Radice!

I’ve shared this scene before but I’ll happily share it again.  In Ruggero Deodato’s The House On The Edge of the Park, Giovanni Lombardo Radice shows a bunch of rich jerks how he can dance.  Dancing with Radice is his frequent co-star, Lorraine De Selle.  And, wearing the yellow suit, is David Hess.

Scenes That I Love: Bill Murray in Zombieland

He’s not a zombie!

He’s Bill Murray!

And today is Bill Murray’s birthday so it seems like a good time to share a scene that I love.  In this scene from 2009’s Zombieland, Bill Murray proves that not even the zombie apocalypse can stop the Murraycane.

(Unfortunately, Bill comes to a tragic end in Zombieland but at least he gets to enjoy himself for a while.)

Scenes I Love: Lonesome Rhodes Reveals His True Self In A Face In The Crowd

The director Elia Kazan was born 113 years ago, in what was then the Ottoman Empire and what is today Turkey.  Though he died in 2003, Kazan has remained a controversial figure and there’s still a lot of debate over what his artistic legacy should be.  As a director, he revolutionized both Broadway and Hollywood.  He made films about topics that other directors wouldn’t touch and he played a huge role in making Marlon Brando a star and popularizing the method.  (I’ll allow you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing.)  He won two Oscars and he’s been cited as an influence by some of the most important directors of the past century.

Kazan was also a former communist who, at the height of the 50s red scare, testified in front of the HUAC and who “named names.”  Kazan often claimed that he only identified people who had already been named.  Many of his former colleagues, however, felt that Kazan had betrayed them and never forgave him.  Though Kazan always denied it, many felt that his decision to name names had more to do with settling personal scores than with any actual concern about national security.  Not helping matters was that Kazan’s 1954 film, On The Waterfront, was widely viewed as being Kazan’s attempt to justify being an informer.  Indeed, Kazan’s post-HUAC films seemed to alternate between thinly veiled attempts to paint himself as a hero and attempts to remind people that he was still a liberal.

That adds an interesting subtext to his best film, 1957’s A Face In The Crowd.  In this film, Andy Griffith plays Lonesome Rhodes, the type of down-home entertainer who would probably have been quite popular with the supporters of HUAC.  A reporter played by Patricia Neal falls in love with Lonesome and helps him become a celebrity with a national following but, too late, she discovers that Rhodes is hardly the folksy and naïve country boy that she originally believed him to be.  Instead, he’s a master manipulator who, drunk on his own power and fame, makes plans to transform himself into a political power.  Lonesome is portrayed as being a down-home fascist, a countryfied version of the infamous Father Charles Coughlin.  At the same time, one could also argue that Rhodes, with his seething contempt for the people who follow him, was also meant as a commentary on the people who claimed to represent the workers but who only saw them and their struggle as a means to an end. 

A Face In The Crowd may have been Kazan’s attempt to remind his detractors that he was still a man of the Left but it’s far more interesting as a work of prophecy.  There’s really not much difference between Lonesome Rhodes and the modern day celebrities and influencers who are currently famous simply for being famous and who, for the right amount of money and ego-stroking, are more than willing to propagandize for one side or the other.

In this wonderfully acted and directed scene, Lonesome Rhodes gets drunk on his own power and reveals just how corrupt his outlook has become.  Making this scene all the more powerful is that it’s easy to imagine our current leaders springing something like Secretary of National Morale on us today.

The Ultimate Labor Day Scene

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the Peanuts gang never did a special about Labor Day.  I’m sure that if they had, it would have been the only special that we would have ever needed to understand this holiday.  It would have been a September perennial, as important to the year as It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Unfortunately, we never got It’s The Labor Beagle, Charlie Brown and Linus never got to explain the turn meaning of Labor Day.

Instead, the ultimate Labor Day scene comes from one of my favorite movies, Office Space.  If you’ve ever worked in an office, you can relate to this scene.

Happy Labor Day!

Scenes That I Love: The Car Chase From The French Connection

Today, the Shattered Lens wishes a happy birthday to the great William Friedkin.  As a director, William Friedkin revolutionized both the horror genre and the crime genre.  The car chase from 1971’s The French Connection has been much imitated but rarely equaled.

A few years ago, I attended a showing of The French Connection at the Alamo Drafthouse.  As exciting as this chase is, it’s even more amazing when viewed on a big screen.