VAL LEWTON | THE ACCLAIMED HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER AT RKO 1941 - 1946
             
The Val Lewton B Unit Web Page
                       
         
Site by Erik Weems, graphic artist, website designer and sometimes cartoonist. His design business site is here.
     
       

April 21, 2011

Photo image of Lewton's Aunt Nazimova

Nazimova

I have read in various film books that Nazimova was a partial source inspiration for the character of Norma Desmond in the Billy WIlder 1950 film Sunset Blvd (Nazimova in fact owned a home at one time on the real Sunset Blvd).

Lewton lived with his mother and sister with Nazimova (birth name Mariam Leventon) for years in New York state, where Nazimova had conducted a successful stage career, becoming originally famous working in plays by Henrik Ibsen. She began working in films in 1916 and her popularity was enough that she was able to finance and produce her own version of "Salome" in 1921, but between censor opposition and difficulty booking the film, she was unable to recover the reported $350K production budget.

She returned completely to stage work for years but eventually appeared in some films of the 1940s (Since You Went Away, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, others) before dying in 1945.

Alla Nazimova: Born May 22, 1879 in Yalta, Taurida Governorate, Russian Empire [now Crimea, Ukraine] Died July 13, 1945 (at age 66) in Los Angeles, California.


April 21, 2011

I Walked with A Zombie

I Walked With A Zombie

The "I Walked With A Zombie" website which was on the geocities webservers from 1997 until Geocities went offline in October 2009, is now back online here.


February 26, 2010

Scorsese sites Lewton as influence on his film "Shutter Island"

Hollywood Breakout has online video about Scorsese's film "Shutter Island" and his stating Lewton was a direct influence (fairly reasonable assertion - - Scorsese has been behind several efforts on recognizing Lewton's efforts and influence on cinema, particularly in the "Man in the Shadows" documentary. Lewton and Jacques Tourneur also show up in Scorsese'ss "Personal Jounrey Through Film" documentary and book)


January 22, 2010

Lewton films showing in San Francisco

Friday, January 22 Cat People (73 min., 1942). Complicated Shadows: The Films of Val Lewton (PFA, 7:00)

The Seventh Victim (71 min., 1943) Complicated Shadows: The Films of Val Lewton (PFA, 8:40) More schedule at eastbayexpress

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Complicated Shadows: The Films of Val Lewton: The characters in producer Val Lewton's horror films "don't run away from the darkness, the dread; they go fully into it, try to demystify it, understand it," Glen O. Gabbard, author of "Psychiatry and the Cinema," once observed. All nine of the horror films the producer made at RKO in the 1940s are in this retrospective, including his three with director Jacques Tourneur ("Cat People," most notably). But they're not horror films so much as mood pieces. Any night is a good night in this series, but if you had to see one, make it the Feb. 5 double feature of "The Curse of the Cat People" - one of the best films made from the perspective of a child - and "The Leopard Man," a great one that's the third and last Lewton-Tourneur pairing. Friday through Feb. 13 at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. (510) 642-1124, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu."

From the film program for the series from Berkely Pacific Film Archive:

Rarely do we praise the producer. But in Val Lewton’s case the praise should be profuse for a cluster of creepy cheapies he produced in the early forties, notable for heavily shadowed psychic landscapes, arousing unease through an excess of archaic suggestion. Originally a scriptwriter, Lewton went from anonymous labors at MGM to the head of the horror unit at RKO in 1942. Once the esteemed studio that had produced classics like King Kong and Citizen Kane, by the time of Lewton’s involvement RKO had opted for “entertainment not genius.” Little did they know that their enfant terror would transform formulaic ideas and impoverished means into a well-crafted surplus of psychological enthrallment. "

Pacific Film Archive Theater | 2575 Bancroft Way


"Dirty" Lewton Transfers

For an interesting discussion on the good and bad about Universal's release of the Val Lewton Collection, see this thread at AV Maniac. In particular a defense of the "unclean" transfers that are on the DVDs (and were on the old laserdisk box set too). Some good points are made.


June 15, 2009:

Lewton's "I Walked With A Zombie" on TCM Podcast:

The director Jacques Tourneur is part of Turner Classic Movies "Great Director" program for the month of June, and the classic movie broadcaster will be running I Walked with A Zombie, Cat People and Tourneur's famous non-Lewton 'noir' with Robert Mitchum Out of the Past.

To promote the series, along with the other special programs for TCM in June, they have a "podcast" film


May 9, 2009:

Actress Jane Randolph dies; starred in Lewton films

Jane Randolph appeared in Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, and two RKO Falcon films. A page about Jane Randolph is here.


September 15, 2008:

Lewton Newspaper Clips:

Both clips below are from the Lewton scrapbooks at the Washington DC Library of Congress, manuscript division.

Val Lewton Joan Bennett

This film was eventually made as "Woman on the Beach" and directed by Jean Renoir. Lewton did considerable pre-production work on this, but in the demise of RKO management following the death of Charles Koerner, Lewton was shuffled off this project, or abandoned it in order to go to his next employer, Paramount Pictures, to work on "Cricket on the Hearth" offered to him by Buddy DeSylva. "Woman on the Beach" was produced by sometimes Lewton-nemesis Jack Gross (more famous for his producing work on earlier Universal horror films) the film was released June 2, 1947.

Sword of the Cossack
[Above] London Times Literary review of Lewton's novel Sword of the Cossack. From the Lewton scrapbooks: that's Lewton handwriting at the top. Apparently this is a review of the 1932 edition, as the original novel was titled "The Cossack Sword" and published in 1926 by Collins and Sons, Scotland.


August 7, 2008:

Lewton's RKO films "surreal..."

Writer Laura Benedict has penned a short review of Lewton's films at her blog:

start quote...Lewton made the best of the titles and, for the most part, produced beautiful, dark films with a kind of psychological depth that was almost unheard of in Hollywood until 1950s realism stepped in. Of course, there's little that's realistic in Lewton's films, and the characters are often unpredictable and unreliable in their behavior. Surreal may be a better word for them.end quote

Complete article about Lewton's films at laurabenedict.blogspot.com
The writer's professional site laurabenedict.com


June 16, 2008:

Lewton Might be "King," but...

A review of the film "The Land Unknown" over at dailyfilmdose.com mentioned this about Val Lewton:

start quoteThere was, however, a time when producers and/or studios and studio heads and/or production executives were often the primary driving creative force behind genre pictures. The most famous example is, of course, Val Lewton – the genius behind such noir-like RKO horror pictures from the 40s as The Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie and The Body Snatchers, among many others. While Lewton worked with a number of the same directors on these pictures (Jacques Tourneur, Mark Robson and Robert Wise), the overriding stylistic voice is so consistent from picture to picture that it is clearly Lewton who is the auteur. Any individual signature touches belonging to the directors of those pictures are overshadowed to the point of obscurity. Lewton’s vision rules. (Interestingly enough, Lewton is such an important filmmaker that he is the only producer in all of film history to be afforded a DVD box set devoted to his productions. Not even true producer auteurs like David O. Selznick or Jerry Bruckheimer have box sets devoted to their distinctive oeuvres.)

Lewton might be King, but there remain a number of other great visionary producers of genre pictures.end quote

When it comes to the Jacques Tourneur directed films, I cannot agree with Greg Klymkiw that Lewton overshadowed the directors reducing them to 'obscurity.'

Tourneur's direction tends toward a visual quality that the later Lewton films do not possess in anywhere near the same level. That is not meant as a knock toward Rob't Wise and Mark Robson, who got their start under Lewton directing the eight post-Tourneur films. Rather it is to point out that Tourneur, either through association with his father (who was a great silent film director), or through his own skill and innate talent, combined with Lewton to make superior visual films.

The movies that come after Tourneur are still good movies (and there's the persistent argument that the Mark Robson directed The Seventh Victim is Lewton's best, an opinion held by a majority, I think). So drawing a distinction between the directors does not reduce the mysterious presence Lewton has over and in his eleven RKO movies. They are all "Lewton" films, (even the one he tried to disown, Youth Runs Wild).

I have to agree with Klymkiw that there is an overriding style to all of the Lewton films, whether it is the visually-oriented Tourneur directed films or the rather "talky" later movies, (especially Lewton's one legitimate RKO "A" movie, the Mark Robson directed Bedlam.)

The either-or debate about Lewton and his directors has been going on for a long time. His film series at RKO was recognized as being consistent in some singular personal style even while Lewton was alive. But the auteur theory of "one man, one film" put forward by famous directors like Frank Capra* insists on relegating authorship onto a single individual. In nearly all cases of film study a producer is pushed to the side, no matter how significant his or her actual input and control over the movie in question. It is basic practice to have but one name with the "directorship" of a film, there are even legal ramifications to enforce this via unions in Hollywood. Also, there is the tradition of assigning the director final authorship that goes well back to the very beginning of movie production in the early 1900s.

*Ironically, Capra has his own 'auteur' dilemma with scriptwriter Robert Riskin, sometimes championed by some as the 'real' voice of the classic Capra films. It strikes me as a dubious claim, however there is no fighting the obvious, because like Lewton-with-Tourneur, Capra was simply better when Robert Riskin was involved.


May 28, 2008:

Lewton Doc "Man in the Shadows" rerun on TCM

TCM is rerunning the Martin Scorsese narrated documentary about Lewton on May 31, Saturday, at 12:45 am (eastern). (I guess if it starts at 12:45 am, its really appearing on June 1)

They will also be screening The Seventh Victim earlier at 11:30 pm (eastern).


April 3, 2008:

Lewton Clip from 1932

From the Herald-Tribune, May 22, 1932

"Where the Cobra Sings
By Cosmos Forbes
New York: The Macaulay Company
$2.00 Retail

Halfway around the world, Jim Burden found compensation for the rather large allotment of quixotic self-sacrifice which he had assumed working in a San Francisco brokerage where he let his brother take credit for its success exclusively his. His brother walked off with the girl Jim thought he loved, and when the brother got into a jam about money, Jim assumed the mantle of suspicion and skipped out to the Orient under it. In Saigon, Jim won the unswerving fidelity of a native girl, whose nobility it took him a long time to recognize. (After the experiences he had had with the white race, this is not surprising.) Ultimately, he married her and discovered that it is possible to go native – to that extent – without becoming one of the human derelicts usually evolved from such enchantment."

This has been added to the Lewton Newspaper clips page here


April 1, 2008:

I have been updating various pages on this site. Added this to the books by Lewton page:

[Below: undated newspaper clip from the Lewton scrapbooks, Library of Congress, Washington DC:]

"Val Lewton, author of 'No Bed of Her Own,' which is running serially in the Mirror, stopped at a gas filling station near his home in Riverside, Connecticut, the other day, to purchase a couple of gallons of gas for his car. The attendant, with the paper he had been reading under his arm, proceeded to serve Mr. Lewton, who noted that the paper was none other than The Mirror, and that the page the chap had been looking at was the one carrying his serial, for he could see plainly, "No Bed of Her Own," by Val Lewton, with the line "man begs, woman sells' – Victor Hugo, which he had chosen as a sort of theme introduction.

"Say," asked Val, curious to learn the reaction of his public, "Is that a good serial that you're reading?"

"Swell," came back the filling station attendant,"it's by Victor Hugo."

Also updated the Youth Gone Wild movie page here


March 28, 2008:

Absolutely the best site on Frances Dee that I have seen is the "Lovely Miss Dee" site which has been relaunched as Remembering Frances Dee - click the image or HERE to visit
Frances Dee

Our page on Frances Dee is here


March 13, 2008:

This Val Lewton site has had a major redesign and moved to its own domain name. I hope you like the changes. A number of pages are yet to be filled out; you will see some "under construction" notices.


Frances Dee 1934
Frances Dee 1934


January 14, 2008:

TCM Lewton Promo Doc

TCM premiers it's Scorsese documentary on Val Lewton tonight at 8 PM Eastern.

Block Michael Guillen is running a Lewton "Blogathon" to coincide with TCM's evening features. Guillen's "The Evening Class" blog site is here.
Block The site popmatters.com has a long review of the Scorsese doc here. Below is an interesting quote from the review by Cynthia Fuchs:

 

start quoteLewton himself remains something of a mystery in Kent Jones’ documentary. “It’s interesting,” narrates Martin Scorsese, that so many characters in his films “are women, young women receiving quick brutal educations in the ways of the world.” While this point probably is “interesting,” it’s left unexplored here. Lyrical and respectful, the documentary doesn't’t press many points about Lewton, but instead makes a few suggestions, some tantalizing, others banal. His focus on young women, Scorsese suggests, might be connected to the fact that he grew up around women, namely, his mother Nina, her sister Alla, and his sister Lucy. Émigrés to the U.S. around 1909, after Nina left her military officer husband in Yalta, the family renamed itself (Levinton to Lewton), became Episcopalians, and stopped speaking Russian, under Nina’s assimiliationist edict. She found work at MGM and Alla remade herself as the stunning actress Nazimova. When Val showed interest in the “business,” Nina recommended him to David O. Selznick, a famously hands-on producer in need of a story editor and assistant.

Even if this basic biography is “interesting,” the film doesn't spend much time on it, but instead uses as a point of departure, a reason to show a redolent scene in Cat People, when Irena (Simone Simon) is reminded of her own hidden history when someone from Serbia speaks to her in their native tongue. Again and again, the documentary pause in its description of events in Lewton’s career in order to let you watch scenes from his films. This makes the film less informative in a conventional sense, but more allusive, more like Lewton’s work. end quote

Block A notice of the coming airing of Scorsese's doc at the Florida Sun-Sentinel says this:

 

start quote[The TCM doc] ... shows that the tortured B-movie producer, who had his exploitative titles foisted on him, turned out moodily influential works that approached Cocteau in their psychological and visual intent.end quote

Block The blog site coffeeandmorecoffee.com is running a Lewton blog-a-thon. A review of The Leopard Man is already up.
Block CinemaRetro has a review (It's positive: "...Director/writer Kent Jones has worked wonders with the little material that is available on Lewton. There is no known film footage of him or even any audio recordings of his voice, thus the documentary's sub-title, The Man in the Shadows") read the documentary review here.
Block A review of the Documentary at Variety by Brian Lowry is here. Excerpt:

 

end quoteAn unassuming figure who emigrated from Russia to the U.S., Lewton left behind diary entries the producers deftly weave in to help tell his story. Jones also seeks out such logical suspects as Roger Corman and Kiyoshi Kurosawa -- filmmakers familiar with the challenges of low-budget production... end quote



December 21, 2007:

Val Lewton Web Site Promo image

The "Man in the Shadows" web site
TCM has put up a full-featured web site promoting the Scorsese documentary here.

TCM Lewton Festival Schedule

More news:
TCM has also taken note of Kingly Books re-issue of Lewton's depression-era novel "No Bed of Her Own" with a review here.
BulletThe Dispatches from Zembla blog site has a review of the Scorsese doc here.
BulletMiriam Bale has a nice (though short) essay titled I Walked with Val Lewton, principally about the poetry of Lewton's I Walked with A Zombie. Piece at thereeler.com
BulletThe Serendipity blog has a review of Cat People and Curse of the Cat People here.

TCM Promo image Val Lewton


December 6, 2007:

VAL LEWTON MAN IN THE SHADOWS

The Scorsese / TCM Lewton Doc
TCM has begun running a promotional piece for their Lewton doc coming on January 14. Incidentally, their schedule does include Mademoiselle Fifi, but it is running the day following the premier of the Scorsese documentary.


November 15, 2007:

More on the Scorsese / TCM Lewton Doc
From the press release from TCM:

 

TCM and Martin Scorsese Pay
Tribute to the Master of Unseen Chills

In Martin Scorsese Presents:
VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS

Scorsese Produces and Narrates the TCM
Original 90-Minute Special,
Premiering Monday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m.

Special To Be Followed by
Eight-Film Marathon of Classic Lewton Thrillers,
Including Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Seventh Victim

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Oscar®-winning director Martin Scorsese (The Departed) are putting a chill in January with a brand new 90-minute TCM production looking at the life and work of master filmmaker Val Lewton. Scorsese is producing and narrating the documentary, which takes a close look at the innovative and creative producer who fashioned a lasting body of uncannily beautiful and unsettling films on meager budgets. Martin Scorsese Presents: VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS is written and directed by Kent Jones and premieres on TCM Monday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m. (ET). It will be followed by a marathon of Lewton classics.

Born in Yalta, Russia, Lewton came to America as a child. After graduating from Columbia University, he became editorial assistant for legendary producer David O. Selznick. It was during this time that he helped film the revolutionary sequences in Selznick’s A Tale of Two Cities and conceived of the famous boom shot in Gone with the Wind in which Scarlett walks through rows and rows of dead and wounded Confederate soldiers. (Interestingly, he advised Selznick to pass on making Gone with the Wind, which he considered to be a lousy book.)

Lewton was also an accomplished author, with 10 novels to his credit, along with six non-fiction books, a book of poetry and even a book of pornography. The legend goes that when RKO was looking for new producers, someone told the executives that Lewton wrote “horrible novels,” which they misunderstood to be “horror novels.” So in 1942, he was put in charge of a special unit at RKO assigned to churn out low-budget horror films. But Lewton wasn’t content to simply make quick and easy shockers. He created a less-is-more school of poetic filmmaking, wherein shock effects are replaced by shadows and sounds, with the unseen often proving to be just as chilling as the seen.

Lewton’s highly psychological works, several of which he also scripted, were made in collaboration with directors Jacques Tourneur, Robert Wise and Mark Robson. They include some of Hollywoods most memorable thrillers and horror films: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Seventh Victim (1943), The Body Snatcher (1945), Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946). Lewton’s influence was strong and can be seen in many later films, from Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963) to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) to Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others (2001).

Martin Scorsese presents VAL LEWTON: THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS is being produced for TCM by Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions, with Kent Jones writing and directing.

The following is the schedule for the Jan. 7 premiere and marathon of Lewton classics (all times Eastern):

8 p.m.

9:30 p.m.

10:45 p.m.

Midnight

1:30 a.m.

2:45 a.m.

4 a.m.

5:15 a.m.

6:30 a.m.

7:45 a.m.

 

Martin Scorsese Presents: VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS

Cat People (1942) – starring Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Tom Conway.

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) – starring Frances Dee and Tom Conway.

Martin Scorsese Presents: VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS encore

The Leopard Man (1943) – starring Dennis O’Keefe and Margot.

The Seventh Victim (1943) – starring Kim Hunter, Tom Conway and Hugh Beaumont.

The Curse of the Cat People (1944) – starring Simone Simon and Kent Smith.

The Body Snatcher (1945) – starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Henry Daniell.

Isle of the Dead (1945) – starring Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew and Marc Cramer.

Bedlam (1946) – starring Boris Karloff, Anna Lee and Ian Wolfe.

Turner Classic Movies, currently seen in more than 75 million homes, is a 24-hour cable network from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. TCM presents the greatest motion pictures of all time from the largest film library in the world, the combined Time Warner and Turner film libraries, from the ‘20s through the ‘90s, commercial-free and without interruption. The network also offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, including the Emmy-winning Stardust: The Bette Davis Story, Brando and Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool. Please visit tcm.com for more information.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a TimeWarner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry.


November 5, 2007:

Scorsese / TCM Lewton Doc on the way
I had an e-mail today announcing that a book titled "Val Lewton: I Walk With The Shadows" came out in Italy. Is this the same as the Scorsese book "Man in the Shadows"? (See the filmguide.com page on the Scorsese book here.)


November 2, 2007:

RKO Remakes on the Way
This is actually "old news" from June, but RKO has licensed a handful of Lewton titles to the makers of the "Saw" horror series. Here's part of the article by Micahel Fleming from Variety:

 

Evolution Entertainment's horror division Twisted Pictures has formed a joint venture with RKO Pictures and plans to remake four genre pics from the RKO library.

The companies will co-finance development and production of "The Body Snatcher," a 1945 Robert Wise-directed thriller that starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff; the 1943 pic "I Walked With a Zombie"; and the 1946 Karloff starrer "Bedlam." They've yet to select the fourth title from the RKO vault.

Since this could be a portent to some some very un-Lewton movie versions of his famous titles, I do not know what to make if this. (For example, the "remake" of I Walked with A Zombie from 1999 called Ritual/aka Revelation IMDB here.)

Screen shot below of the Variety article:


October 19, 2007:

I had an e-mail today announcing that a book titled "Val Lewton: I Walk With The Shadows" came out in Italy. Is this the same as the Scorsese book "Man in the Shadows"? (See the filmguide.com page on the Scorsese book here.)


October 15, 2007:

The Martin Scorsese Val Lewton Documentary Man In The Shadows is coming January 2008:

 

Turner Classic Movies and Oscar®-winning director Martin Scorsese (The Departed) are putting a chill in January with a brand new 90-minute TCM production looking at the life and work of master filmmaker Val Lewton. Scorsese is producing and narrating the documentary, which takes a close look at the innovative and creative producer who fashioned a lasting body of uncannily beautiful and unsettling films on meager budgets. Quote End

On the heals of the documentary is a marathon of Lewton films for TCM programming:

 

Quote StartMartin Scorsese presents VAL LEWTON: THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS is being produced for TCM by Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions, with Kent Jones writing and directing.

The following is the schedule for the Jan. 7 premiere and marathon of Lewton classics (all times Eastern):

8 p.m. Martin Scorsese Presents: VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS

9:30 p.m. Cat People (1942) – starring Simone Simon, Kent Smith and Tom Conway.

10:45 p.m. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) – starring Frances Dee and Tom Conway.

Midnight Martin Scorsese Presents: VAL LEWTON – THE MAN IN THE SHADOWS

1:30 a.m. The Leopard Man (1943) – starring Dennis O’Keefe and Margot.

2:45 a.m. The Seventh Victim (1943) – starring Kim Hunter, Tom Conway and Hugh Beaumont.

4 a.m. The Curse of the Cat People (1944) – starring Simone Simon and Kent Smith.

5:15 a.m. The Body Snatcher (1945) – starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Henry Daniell.

6:30 a.m. Isle of the Dead (1945) – starring Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew and Marc Cramer.

7:45 a.m. Bedlam (1946) – starring Boris Karloff, Anna Lee and Ian Wolfe.Quote End

Where's Mademoiselle Fifi and Youth Gone Wild? For that matter, where's Apache Drums? All three are significant Lewton efforts, particularly the Simone Simon starring Mademoiselle Fifi. The RKO horror tales are regularly programmed into the TCM schedule, so though they are altogether for a single viewing as part of premiering their long-awaited Lewton doc., I hoped for something a little "extra." Nonetheless, TCM continues to lead the way when it comes to television paying attention to Lewton.

Read the entire TCM announcement at their site here.


October 6, 2007:

The page on Sir Lancelot has been updated, along with Simone Simon, and a page on actress Jane Randolph begun.


August 27, 2007:
The Bright Lights Film Journal has an article by Erich Kuersten centered around the Lewton film The Leopard Man here.

From the article:

 

In The Leopard Man, even the minor characters are vividly etched, they burble over with compassion and character, and when they die, no matter how small their role, their absence leaves a small hole in the weave of the film. So why in comparison are the characters in most noir films, indeed in most “popular culture” films in general, so clichιd and unsympathetic? Outside of the austere transcendentalism of Bresson, Dreyer, or Ozu or the life-affirming ensemble pieces of Renoir, it’s hard to find “real” people in cinematic works of “genius,” and the work of these non-American auteurs are hardly “popular” culture if for no other reason than that most Americans hate subtitles. So, for the genius director who entertains in a Hollywood tradition, where are the forgiveness and hope? Where is the healing hand that lets a noir antihero mend the error of his ways before he’s fatally shot?


July 28, 2007:

Martin Scorsese's documentary on Lewton "Val Lewton's American Horror" which was announced by Turner Classic Movies for TV broadcast in 2007, has been pushed back to 2008.

The Simone Simon pages have been updated here.


February 12, 2007:
Icons of Grief
I just got in a copy of this book. I have made a quick perusal and the writer (Alexander Nemerov) has concentrated on minor details of Lewton's films that have not been examined much in the other literature on Lewton that's already been published. For example, he makes more out of Lewton's relatively fogotten film "My Own True Love" from 1948 than what I have seen anywhere else. I hope to have a full review of the book later on this site after I complete reading the volume.


January 2, 2007:
Simone Simon
The page on Lewton Actress Simone Simon [Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, Mademoiselle Fifi] has updated HERE.


November 13, 2006:

A couple of news articles scanned from the Val Lewton scrapbooks archived at the United States Library of Congress [warning: very large jpeg file]:
Lewton Library of Congress

A "video tribute" to actress Frances Dee has appeared on youtube.com - Dee starred in Lewton's I Walked with A Zombie.


September 26, 2006:
Two images added to the page on actress Frances Dee.


September 25, 2006:
The page on actress Simone Simon has been updated with a new image and some additional data incorporated into the existing short bio.

Simone Simon


September 9, 2006:

Cineaste Magazine is running an article on Lewton for their Fall 2006 issue: Val Lewton at RKO: The Social Dimensions of Horror by Martha P. Nochimson. Thanks to Damien Love of Kingly Books for the tip.



[NOTE: The site mentioned following is no longer online] The Frances Dee Tribute site (Dee was the star of Lewton's I Walked with A Zombie) has added a large number of gallery pages with some beautiful photos of Dee. Also, site owner Liz Chancellor has an interview with Peter McCrea, Frances' son. They discuss her many films along with a mention of Lewton's Zombie film. Our page on Frances Dee is here.

Frances Dee

 

Kingly Books (which recently republished Lewton's novel No Bed of Her Own - - purchase at amazon.com - - with a new introduction by Val Lewton, Jr.) has put up a new gallery of images from Lewton's Cat People film at the Kingly Books web site here:


August 15, 2006:
More material culled from the Lewton scrapbooks in the Manuscript department at the Library of Congress:

LA Times Letter 1980 about Val Lewton- A letter about Val Lewton that was published in the L. A. Times in 1980. A defence of Lewton and a projection of Lewton's aesthetics qualities versus modern horror films, circa 1980.

- David O. Selznick's letter to Nina Lewton on the occasion of Lewton's death.

- Obituary article on Lewton's aunt, the actress Alla Nazimova from 1946.

Lewton's LEOPARD MAN film

- -

[Above] 3 clippings from Lewton's scrapbooks from the time frame of The Leopard Man film. The UPI article by Frederick Othman calls Lewton "Kid Chill" and notes several films on Lewton's schedule that were never actually made: The Screaming Skull and The Amorous Ghost. The second article is a review of Leopard from Variety. The Third article is from the Hollywood Reporter, also reviews Leopard Man.


June 8, 2006:
The page on actress Frances Dee (who starred in Lewton's I Walked with A Zombie) has been updated with a new image and some more biographical data.

Frances Dee RGB


April 7, 2006:
The UK Guardian has an article on Lewton by writer Barry Gifford (Gifford co-wrote the film Lost Highway with David Lynch, and co-wrote the 2003 film City of Ghosts, he also has a host of novels in print). The article is here. Thanks to Damien Love at Kingly Books for alerting me (Kingly is publishing the new version of Lewton's No Bed of Her Own. Scroll down for more information).

Watching these masterpieces of chiaroscuro at 3am made an indelible impression on me. These were horror films unlike any others. As the director Martin Scorsese has remarked, they were "wonderfully inventive, beautifully poetic and deeply unsettling . . . some of the greatest treasures we have".

With films such as The Leopard Man, I Walked With a Zombie, The Body Snatcher, Bedlam, The Seventh Victim and Isle of the Dead, Lewton created an oeuvre unique in film history. Utilising shadows to disguise the grisly goings-on (always in black and white) and the power of suggestion - never revealing for viewers' eyes the graphic activities we only hear or see reflected on walls or in water - Lewton's terrifying formula set one's imagination stumbling down a street where the light is always hazy, the black not quite black but with an opaqueness that forces the viewer to strain to see more clearly. The effect is like looking through a keyhole and being shocked by a cold fingertip on your neck.


April 5, 2006:
A book launch party is being thrown in Glasgow for the printing of the new edition of Lewton's seminal 1932 novel No Bed of Her Own. Amazon UK is carrying the book already. You can get more information by visiting the Kingly Books web site here.

In his email to me about the book coming out, Damien Love mentioned something interesting about Lewton's I Walked with A Zombie: "...I sometimes think of the Isle of the Dead movie as taking place inside the painting in I Walked With A Zombie..."


March 7, 2006:
Updated Isle of the Dead with a modern photograph of the island of Pontikonissi at Corfu, Greece, by George Pallas. This island was the backdrop for the Lewton film.

Pontikonissi Corfu


February 24, 2006:
Updated the Links page, added a scan of the Lewton obituary notices from the Lewton scrapbooks at the Library of Congress, and began a new page on the Lewton film Isle of the Dead.


  corner
top line
Lewton Links

- - - - - - - -

Lewton RKO Films
Cat People*
I Walked With A Zombie*
The Leopard Man*
The Seventh Victim*
The Ghost Ship*
Curse of the Cat People*
Youth Runs Wild
Mademoiselle Fifi*
Isle of the Dead
The Body Snatcher*
Bedlam

Other Lewton Films
My Own True Love*
Please Believe Me*
Apache Drums*
Misc Films

*Pages under construction

CAST AND CREW PAGES

Sir Lancelot Pinard
SIR LANCELOT PINARD

Simone Simon
SIMONE SIMON

Frances Dee
FRANCES DEE

Jane Randolph
JANE RANDOLPH

cinemagraphe

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

corner    
 
                     
                       
     
     

 

HOSTING AND DESIGN FROM
eeweems.com