Saturday, October 31, 2015

Movie Write-Up (Loosely-Speaking): Ed Wood

Last Saturday night, we watched the 1931 Dracula movie, which starred Bela Lugosi as the Transylvanian vampire.  I had never seen it all the way through, so I wanted to watch it.  It was hosted by Svengoolie, who gave us a lot of interesting trivia about the film, but who also told a lot of horrible, corny jokes.

My Mom’s husband was telling me about a movie that he saw a while back.  It was a 1994 Tim Burton film called Ed Wood.  Ed Wood was a film-maker in the 1950’s.  His movies have been panned as bad by many critics, yet they have gained a cult-following.  A number of people say that he had guts during the conservative 1950’s.

This is relevant to the 1931 Dracula movie because Wood recruited Bela Lugosi to act in a number of his movies.  This was when Lugosi was older and was largely considered to be a washed-up actor.  In the movie Ed Wood, Lugosi was played by Martin Landau, who received an Academy Award for this role.  Landau made a brief appearance on Svengoolie’s show last Saturday night.

I had to respect Wood because he kept on trying, even though success eluded him during his life.  In the course of all this, he recruited a number of interesting people as actors for his movie projects.  There was a depressed, washed-up actor, Lugosi, who was still somewhat of a legend.  Vampira, who hosted a Svengoolie-like show in the 1950’s (and did not care for her show’s corny jokes), was hired by Wood after her show was cancelled.  Wood recruited Tor Johnson, a wrestler.  There was also Tom Mason, a chiropractor, whom Wood hired to stand-in for Lugosi after Lugosi’s death.

Wikipedia’s article on Lugosi’s son states: “Bela Lugosi, Jr. has been among those who felt filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. exploited his father’s stardom, taking advantage of the fading actor when he could not refuse any work.  Most documents and interviews with other Wood associates in Nightmare of Ecstasy suggest that Wood and Lugosi were genuine friends and that Wood helped Lugosi through the worst days of his depression and drug addiction.”  That was portrayed in the movie.

My favorite scene in the movie was when Wood talked with Orson Wells at a restaurant.  Wells, of course, was famous and successful, which Wood was not.  What I particularly liked, though, was that Wells was approachable and talked with Wood as an equal, as both commiserated with each other about the perils of movie-making (i.e., having to appease financiers, who want a say in how the movie is made).  Wells encouraged Wood to follow his vision.  I hope that scene really happened!

There was one thing that I was curious about, and I have not been able to find information about it on the Internet.  A Baptist church financed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, in hopes that it would generate enough profits so that the church could make a series of movies about the twelve apostles.  Did the church ever get to make those movies?

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