Premise: In 1931, exactly ninety years ago, two films were released and made history: Dracula by Tod Browning and Frankenstein by James Whale. The two monsters of the movies were interpreted by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, respectively. The first was Hungarian, the second was British, and their stories are inevitably intertwined.
Today’s post is a little different than usual, as it’s a podcast suggestion. The podcast I’d like to recommend is You Must Remember This, by Karina Longworth. It’s no coincidence that the podcast’s name is taken from the main song of Casablanca (1942). That is because the podcast is dedicated to stories of the Golden Age of Hollywood, that of the great moguls of the Twenties and Thirties, even though there are also episodes dealing with other eras of Hollywood cinema.
Karina Longworth is extremely competent and manages to entertain her listeners by talking about the most varied topics. For example, I loved the episodes dedicated to the life of Polly Platt, to the fake news of Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon, to Disney’s Song of the South (1946), and to the careers of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, which is the reason behind the premise above. In 2017, Karina dedicated six episodes of You Must Remember This to these two actors.
She talked about their origins (a notable difference between the two was that Bela was Hungarian and didn’t even speak English when he arrived in the US, while Boris was from the UK), about their careers, and about their collaborations (and their rivalry). The last two episodes of the series focused on the final moments of the careers of the two actors and about their relationships with two peculiar directors (although very different from each other): Ed Wood in the case of Bela and Roger Corman in that of Boris.
This in-depth study by Karina Longworth on Bela and Boris is a way to explore the horror scene of the Thirties first and then the Forties, and to discover the interesting relationship between the two actors. For example, Bela had always claimed to have turned down the part of the Frankenstein monster that went to Boris, thinking that he would have been a step back after playing Dracula, the great seducer. Poor Bela didn’t fully understand the ephemeral nature of his success: he thought of himself as the king of horror, but in 1932, just a year after Dracula’s release, Universal dumped him and in 1933 he declared bankruptcy! His story is really sad, as he worked in several productions, all low quality, and when he interpreted the famous vampire again he didn’t impress much. The story of Boris Karloff is quite different… but let Karina Longworth tell you about it in her fantastic podcast! Ciao!