Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Plethora Of Intriguing Film Factoids!


A Plethora Of Intriguing Film Factoids!

Posted: 08/19/2015 5:49 pm EDT Updated: 08/19/2015 5:59 pm EDT

There were no ghosts in "The Ghost Ship." The actor who handled the acton scenes in "The Masked Marvel" serial went uncredited! None of the stars of "Double Indemnity" originally wanted to be in the film!

-Misleading titles: In 1941's "Invisible Ghost," Bela Lugosi annually mourns the loss of his absent wife (portrayed by Betty Compson), presumed dead. But, she has been haunting his home, not as a specter, but as a flesh-and-blood human. In the end, he strangles her to death, but, disappointingly, she was neither invisible nor ghostly!

In 1943's "The Ghost Ship," produced by film noir legend Val Lewton, Richard Dix starred as a tyrannical ship's captain. But, on a downer, there were no ghosts aboard the vessel and it was not a Flying Dutchman. Indeed, the title was only referenced once, when Dix's beloved (played by actress Edith Barrett) spoke of his alienation from his men making him akin to the captain of "a ghost ship."

Ruehl Fact: Val Lewton did include the ghost of the original cat woman (essayed by Simone Simon) from 1942's "Cat People" in 1944's "The Curse of the Cat People," but, unfortunately, there was no curse in effect and the phantom was entirely friendly and protective! Darn!

-In the action-packed 1943 serial, "The Masked Marvel," 4 insurance investigators repeatedly attempt to foil the nefarious plans of the Japanese spy Mura Sakima (enacted by Caucasian actor Johnny Arthur). While 1 of those agents (ultimately revealed to be Rod Bacon) is supposed to be the Marvel, another actor, veteran serial stuntman Tom Steele, actually enacted all of the hero's scenes, yet was not given any screen credit! Thankfully, many film guides do list him as this was undoubtedly his finest hour!

Ruehl Fact: Serial and western stalwarts Tom Steele and Bob Steele were in no way related. Indeed, neither actor's real surname was Steele: Tom was born Tom Skeoch in Scotland in 1909 while Bob was born Robert Stansbury in Oregon in 1907.

-Surprisingly, none of the principals in the 1944 film noir classic, "Double Indemnity," initially wanted to be included in the cast! Fred MacMurray, who had starred in light comedies, felt it went against his type. Barbara Stanwyck objected to portraying a heartless murderess. And, Edward G. Robinson was reluctant to accept a secondary role after being the lead in a string of films. But, all eventually succumbed to writer/director Billy Wilder's persuasion, with all delivering Oscar-caliber performances (although only Stanwyck received a nomination for Best Actress, but lost out to Ingrid Bergman who won for her role in "Gaslight")

Ruehl Fact: The movie's original ending showed MacMurray being executed in the gas chamber, but was changed as preview audiences did not take to it. The finale opted for, with Robinson lighting a wounded MacMurray's cigarette, was nothing short of superb!

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