BELA LUGOSI'S TOP 13
I originally posted this last year, but I thought it would be worth a second visit, particularly if you want to find a film worthy of your time on Halloween. What follows is a list of the essential entries in Bela Lugosi's five-decade-long filmography.
A few years ago a friend of mine saw Rowland V. Lee's SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) for the first time at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. At the end of the film his first comment was, “Why does everybody say Bela Lugosi was such a bad actor? He’s great in this! He steals the whole movie—and that’s not easy when you’re sparring with Lionel Atwill, Boris Rathbone, and Boris Karloff!” He then asked me to recommend other Lugosi films, so I took the opportunity to compile my personal “Top 13 Lugosi” list. Your forthcoming Halloween viewing experience can be vastly improved by the addition of any one of the following films from the Golden Age of Hollywood....
If any of these films whet your appetite for more information regarding the careeer of Bela Lugosi, I suggest listening to the following podcast: YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: BELA AND BORIS EPISODE ONE: WHERE THE MONSTERS CAME FROM (OCTOBER 16, 2017).
Also, the following books by Gary D. Rhodes (and friends) represent the most comprehensive biographies of Lugosi's life:
NO TRAVELER RETURNS: THE LOST YEARS OF BELA LUGOSI by Gary D. Rhodes and Bill Kaffenberger (BearManor Media, 2012)
BELA LUGOSI: DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES by Gary D. Rhodes and Richard Sheffield (Collectables Press, 2007)
And the best documentary film about Lugosi remains Gary D. Rhodes' LUGOSI: HOLLYWOOD'S DRACULA (Spinning Our Wheels Productions, 2000).
And if you want even more Lugosi, here's a 1951 interview with the actor upon his return from London where he had just completed filming John Gilling's very peculiar transvestite comedy MOTHER RILEY MEETS THE VAMPIRE (AKA VAMPIRE OVER LONDON) (1952):
BORIS KARLOFF'S TOP 13
Of course, it's only appropriate that we give equal time to Lugosi's most frequent collaborator and rival, Boris Karloff. What follows is my personal "Top 13 Karloff" list. Each of these films (some acknowledged classics, others relatively obscure) represents a high watermark in the history of cinematic horror....
THE BLACK CAT (Edgar Ulmer, 1934)
FRANKENSTEIN (James Whale, 1931)
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (James Whale, 1935)
THE MUMMY (Karl Freund, 1932)
THE BODY SNATCHER (Robert Wise, 1945)
BEDLAM (Mark Robson, 1946)
CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (Robert Day, 1958)
THE WALKING DEAD (Michael Curtiz, 1936)
THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (Charles Brabin, 1932)
THE BLACK ROOM (Roy William Neill, 1935)
ISLE OF THE DEAD (Mark Robson, 1945)
BLACK SABBATH (Mario Bava, 1963)
TARGETS (Peter Bogdanovich, 1968)
If you're interested in reading about Karloff's life and career, you would be hard pressed to do any better than the books of Gregory William Mank such as BELA LUGOSI AND BORIS KARLOFF: THE EXPANDED STORY OF A HAUNTING COLLABORATION and IT'S ALIVE: THE CLASSIC CINEMA SAGA OF FRANKENSTEIN.
And as an added Halloween treat, here's Karloff performing in an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Telltale Heart" on a 1941 episode of the radio show INNER SANCTUM....