Wednesday, August 24, 2011

THE CLIMAX - Edward Ward - "This Is The Biggest Moment Of My Life" (1944)

That's it! It's over, and here's "THE CLIMAX!" Pretty weird just to get started, the climax is at the beginning, and not the end! That's like eating with your butt!!

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"The Climax" was produced in 1944, and was Boris Karloff's first technicolor feature! I've read a lot of reviews, and most people don't seem to think that's enough!

For me, just seeing Boris in living colour for the first time is mesmerizing, and is well worth the admission price alone! What the Hell, it only cost like ten cents to get into the movies in 1944, and that was probably for a double header! Before this, most people thought Boris was green!!

Who cares that this film moves along like a cross between "The Phantom Of The Opera" and "My Fair Lady!" Out of the 86 minutes it's on the screen, I'd be willing to wager that 25 or 30 minutes of it is music, and there's no soundtrack listing! What an enigma!!

Flashback ten years to Boris's true love, the singer Marcellina, who was portrayed by June Vincent! June was in a couple other very cool 40's flicks, "Black Angel," and "The Creeper" before going on to have a very long career on TV!

In this film, Boris Karloff is Dr. Friedrich Hohner, who is madly, with the emphasis on mad, in love with Marcellina! Unfortunately for him, and her, she's mouthing the words "I hate you" right about here!

Dr. Friedrich Hohner is not the kind of man to take "No!" for an answer! If I had to guess, he's thinking, if I can't have you, nobody can!

When all that high pitched squealing isn't going on, any other music in the movie was written by Edward Ward, a gentleman I don't think we've ever mentioned before who has a massive array of composing credits going all the way back to 1928! Not only did Edward write the music for the 1943 feature "The Phantom Of The Opera," and the song "Lullaby Of The Bells,"
he also did stuff like writing a song called "West Wind Whistlin'" for the short featurette, "Dudes Are Pretty People" starring the wanderin' cowboy, Jimmy Rogers! Edward Ward's compositions would be used for years as stock music!!

This is Susanna Foster as Angela Klatt! Yes, the same Susanna Foster who the year before sang the aforementioned "Lullaby Of The Bells" in "The Phantom Of The Opera!" I think I'm starting to see a pattern!

Angela's accompanist and lover is Turhan Bey as Franz Munzer! Turhan Gilbert Selahattin Sahultavy was born in Austria to Turkish and Czechoslovakian parents, which might explain his exotic look and his roles in "The Mummy's Tomb," "Arabian Nights," "Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves," "The Amazing Mr. X," and the TV series "Babylon 5!" Turhan must be in his 90's by now, but I'm pretty sure he's still kickin'!

I've gotta stop and get a bite to eat! Five good sized sausages? Now I know how they hit all those high notes!! An old customer of mine gave me a bottle of El Mexicalense Oro Tequila from Mexico today, so now I've got something to wash down that sausage with! Life is good!

That is quite an outfit, "Fly Trans-Love Airways, get you there on time!" - Donovan

As I said before, "The Climax" is really a musical, and the sets and costumes are something else, and during Angela's performance, Franz gets into it so much, he starts singing along, and annoying his fellow audience members! "Play Abracadabra!!"

Nobody had sang Marcellina's songs for 10 years, and that was just the way Boris wanted it, and liked it!

So as the house Doctor, Boris tells Angela that he needs to examine her throat.......

......and then he hypnotizes her into thinking she can't sing anymore!!!

The boy King has to get involved, and is petitioned to require that Angela must perform for him, so she has to sing whether she can or not!!

The main dude in this he-man number is George Dolenz as Amato Rosellino, who besides being a great actor was no less than the father of future Monkee singer and drummer, Mickey Dolenz! George died at 55 in 1963, three years before the first "Monkees" show ever aired!

Despite the odds, the spell is broken, and Angela is able to sing her little heart out again,....But..

....It drives Boris even crazier, over the edge, and into whatever is nuttier than a fruitcake!

Boris had been carrying a torch for Marcellina for ten years and had a little altar mausoleum thing where he was storing her, and she looked remarkably good, before he kicked over the torch, and turned the whole place into a burning ring of pyre!

Angela's revival of Marcellina's song was a huge success, and with Boris no longer interfering, there can be an almost fairy tale ending, and The King gets to enjoy the show! There's only one problem, The King was none other than a 15 year old Scotty "Winky" Beckett, whose biography just didn't allow for any happy endings, real or imagined!


prof. grewbeard said...

the colors, the colors! one day i will see this film but not today...

Kev D. said...

Nothing made today has this kind of insane visual appeal. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how long it must have taken to design and create all of those costumes and outfits.

It truly was a different world of movie making back then.

Douglas McEwan said...

The once-gorgeous Turhan Bey is a mere 89, and yes, still alive. He even returned to Hollywood in the late 1990s, and did some more acting for about 5 years, now bald as an egg. He comes by his exotic look honestly: he had a Turkish father and a Czechoslovakian mother, and was, by birth, Viennese. I spoke to him on the telephone once, back in 1994, when he was living in Paris. We were trying to locate him for a radio stunt involving old 1940s stars, and word reached him. He called me, but he wasn't going to come back to California then. We had a lvely chat.

The Claude Rains Phantom was such a hit, and won a couple Oscars, that they hurried this into production as an almost-remake of Phantom. At least they didn't reuse Nelson Eddy.

The title still sounds like a porn movie.

Douglas McEwan said...

I made a typo; the year I spoke to Turhan Bey was 1974, not 1994. Small difference of 20 years.

Christopher said...

Interesting info on Turhan(tombs of Karnak) Bey,someone I've grown up with in films on TV,but never knew anything about...I've never seen the opening credits for the Climax...but I have for some of the Maria Montez films,its disappointing there was never a color version of the early 1940s Universal logo intro!

Greg Goodsell said...

GAW-CHUSS color! It made my day!

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