Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Trip to The New World

Our good friend Edward Copeland has spent considerable energy building on his website a compendium of unfavorable reviews of The New World with lots of links to Terrence Malick's naysayers. I admit I find odd and a little curious the prosecutorial glee with which he marshals attacks on a movie he has no intention of seeing. It's one thing to want to tear down the accolades automatically given to the latest contrivance from the Coen Brothers, but Terrence Malick? I thought his critical reception had always been mixed at best, I never guessed his movies made much money, and the last I checked, Rotten Tomatoes had The New World's fresh rating at a mere 55%.

On the flip side, Matt Zoller Seitz has written about the film with eloquence, passion, and an almost missionary zeal at The House Next Door. His praise and enthusiasm for the film feels infectious, if a tad hyperbolic at times. And I don't know what to make of such talk of "new cinematic languages" or "watershed cultural moments" and the like.

It was with these dueling opinions in mind, that my brother and I geared up for our journey to The New World last Sunday. During the smoke'em-if-you-got'em moments before the movie started we discussed as we have many times The Thin Red Line. My brother thinks it an absolute masterpiece, and I deeply admire large portions of it, but want to reign in a little, due to an overall disjointedness and what I felt at the end was either some clumsiness or a deliberate but needless and obfuscating ambiguity. But mostly when we talk of TTRL we talk about the way a match lights up the darkness, or how we first hear a diesel engine throb and then see a patrol boat through the trees cruising along the shore, or the way the brig really feels encased in thick steel deep within the ship's bowels.
"Terrence Malick knows how to film water", one of us will say, or "Terrence Malick knows how to film shoreline... how to film trees".
"Malick knows how to make the interior of a ship hum."

And then always there's the photography. To say that a Terrence Malick film looks good is an injustice. It's quite simply the best cinematography there is.

As we were walking through the multiplex, one of us noticed that we were both dressed a bit nicer than casual for some reason. "Gee, I do kind of feel like I'm going to church here."
"I think you'll like the service", I said.
"But will I like the people?" he replied. We went in and sat down.

And now that I've seen it, all I can say is: Wow, was Matt Seitz ever right and Ed Copeland wrong! It's a great big magnificent cathedral of a movie. It's an excavation, a digging down and a clearing away, it's a cleansing return to our creationist mythology. It's less a movie in any traditional sense, and more an object presented for meditation.

It's all here, of course, all that stuff that Malick's detractors find so worthy of mockery: the symphonic snippets of colloquial narration, the slow lyrical pacing, the hippie-trippy cutaways to trees, water, rocks, and birds. But I'm beginning to think this kind of ridicule is getting cheap and too easy. Here, let me try it:

What am I doing here?...how am I watching this movie?...is this a dream?...no ... this only is real...everything else is a dream...

Terrence Malick is one of the greatest filmers of nature ever. Like some japanese master, like an Inigaki, his nature inserts flow and pervade. What is background in other movies Malick puts front and center. Malick is the man to film Typee. And Omoo. And The Encantadas. Or all of Melville while he's at it. Or anything with a boat- or water- or trees- or a river.

I struggle to find other films to compare to The New World. Maybe Kurosawa's great film Dersu Uzala or Agnes Varda's Le Bonheur. I understand likening it to 2001: A Space Odyssey but Kubrick yanks our chain and dicks the audience around a bit ( shaggy God story and all of that.) There is none of that here. We are never lost in The New World, everything is up front, we feel we know exactly what it all means.

Perhaps it's easiest to describe it in terms and ideas borne out of Malick's previous work, especially the film it most resembles, The Thin Red Line. If you take the AWOL sections of that film, with James Caviezel roaming around and taking the jungle and islanders all in with those big, soulful, world-reflecting eyes ( I pegged him as an actor to play Jesus back in '98), add to it some stuff like the Ben Chaplin character's totemic sexual recollections of his wife, and mix it all with Malick's camera looking at everything like it has some sort of special Buddha lens attached to it, then we might approximate the movie we have here.

Now I'm a little confused as to which cut of the movie I saw, and I need to read up on the different versions, but this one felt brief and incredibly tight. The characters were spare, the storyline was tidy and simple. ( Did I mention the movie is tight?)

With most novels and lots of movies, I think I enjoy them best after the fact. Once downloaded, I can take it apart and put it back together in my head, spin it around and examine it from different angles. Not so with a Malick film. The best time and place for his movies is in the dark, letting the images and sounds wash over you. Like a great piece of music, it's not enough that we can remember it or even sing it, we need to actually hear it again.

Just take the opening sequence, with our settlers getting their first glimpse of land, and the natives stopping to see the mysterious ships gliding into harbor, the music, serene yet always rising, the skillful weaving of multiple vantage points done with an exhilarating perfection, John Smith in chains, looking up at a small square of blue sky, with it's intimations of a new liberty ... if this isn't great filmaking then I don't know what is! I felt all tingly while watching it.

Or how about Pocahontas's trip to England. We disembark at a dingy portside, the squalor of which makes us wonder if she'll ever be impressed. We progress down cluttered streets, and pass buildings that grow increasingly more grand and imposing, until finally ( in a scene that echoes John Smith's entrance into Chief Powhatan's hall ) we enter the court of King James, sumptuous yet cramped somehow, and very real looking.

The performers are all good. Q'orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas is an especially sweet discovery. When one of the white woman settlers takes our princess under her wing and has her wash her face, my brother quipped, " Nobody in this movie needs to be giving any pointers to Pocahontas on skin care, that's for damn sure." Colin Farrell as John Smith completely overcomes whatever prejudice I have against him. Christian Bale as John Rolfe is fine as always. In truth, though, I think that this movie could be recast a couple of times over and it wouldn't change very much. I might fight a bit harder to keep Christopher Plummer, whose very voice and demeanor conveys in the godforsaken Jamestown settlement the comfort and assurance of centuries of western civilization.

Now I can't honestly say I've ever really cried much at the movies, ( and as an insurance policy I never watch anything where something horrible befalls a child, as I know I can't handle it) but somewhere during the last reel of this one, what with that Wagner music swelling, and the wind gusts blowing in ( you can almost smell the salt) and Pocahontas chasing after her little son across the lawns and along the hedges, and that hide-and-seek camerawork, it all got to working on me and I welled up and sat misty-eyed right through to the end, with its final shot so perfect and apt and unmistakably clear in its poetry.

The New World bore through me in an emotional way that few films have. I think it reaches the summit of film art. And it will take its place there, and join in my moviegoer's heart with other films cherished for the humbled awe I feel when witnessing something de profundis. With the bottom-dropped-out heartache I felt watching two condemned men reach for each other's hands instinctively as they walked to their execution in Breaker Morant, with the gratitude that I owe F.W. Murnau for providing Sunrise with a happy ending, with the dumbfounded, quivering mass of mixed emotions that I turn into if I even start thinking about Rossellini's great masterpiece Paisan.

The human story here is affecting, but I don't think that's what got to me. It's something else. It's not like, say, some italian neorealist film, whereupon leaving we rejoice and want to shout across the rooftops " Now That's Humanism!" No, it's something else, something profound and metaphysical. Something Zen like, and to do with the individual's relation to reality. Throughout this movie we always feel the weight of future generations, and in our mind's eye we superimpose the country and people we know today onto the tracts of wilderness.

To conclude, I'll just have to say thank you Matt Seitz, for your evangelism. The church service was exceptional and the people good. And Mr. Copeland, I urge you to attend this movie. You may indeed find it boring and not like it, in which case we'll examine your head in Part Two. Here I'll end with the only words my brother and I could muster as we left the theater and made the long walk to the car, the only words, that is, until we got home and started bouncing around saying how fucking awesome it was.
" Terrence Malick knows how to make an old ship creak."
" Hell, man, Malick knows how to make a creek creak."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Is flag burning covered by Kyoto?

Tame is about the only way to describe the Danish cartoons poking fun at Islam (viewable here). You’ll notice nothing as provocative as, say, a stuffed Piglet on a social worker’s desk or a man handing out ham sandwiches to the poor.

Incidentally, someone needs to tell President Clinton that Sept 10th lip biting doesn’t cut it any more.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Some good news between S Korea and Japan

Apparently not all Koreans hate the Japanese.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lon Chaney, Jr.

He’s a lycanthrope.

A what?
A lycanthrope.

What’s that?

A man that imagines himself to be a wolf.

Oh, poor devil.



Here I still carry the sign of the pentegram

The mark of the werewolf.

I kill people.

When the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.

It’s not in my power to help you.

You’re the only one who understands

Nobody else in the world will believe me.

But you...

You know

Your own son, Bela, was a werewolf.

He attacked me.

He changed me into a werewolf.
He’s the one that put this curse upon me.

I think I can assist you, Frau Thomas

Ozzy, I mean, Helen Thomas, called Bush a coward for not choosing her during today's press conference, though she raised her hand every time. I've gone ahead and put the responses she may have received had she been given the chance to ask:

Thomas: "I wanted to ask about Iraq: 'You said you didn't go in for oil or for Israel or
for WMDs so why did you go in?'"

President: Please read at least one of the speeches I've given in the last two years.

Thomas: [regarding the NSA story] "You keep saying it's a 1978 law, but the Constitution 200 years old. Is that out of date, too?"

President: No.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LDP wants to change Japanese stance on space development

They want to lift restrictions created in 1969 that restricted space development for military uses. They do not believe that stance is consistent with what their neighbors are doing.

Iranian nukes and the recent tape of ‘bin Laden’s voice’

The following two columns are covering different areas, but they overlap over an interesting dynamic in the radical Sunni/Shia camps. First, Tony Blankly goes over reasons as to why Iran is bent on nukes. One area he covers is Iran’s efforts to regain some radical islamic bonafides that have eroded since the revolution and subsequent compromises with the West. Blankly believes that Wahhabism has essentially outflanked the Shia state in this regard. Lee Harris comes from the other way. He ponders the reason for the recent tape and concludes that since 9/11, the balance of radical islamic power has shifted to the Shia. Bin Laden, assuming he’s not pushing up daisies, has to smuggle crappy audio tapes to al Jazeera in order to communicate with the world. Ahmadinejad on the other hand, is making the news every week. The tape was a plea, of sorts, to shift the US position away from the Shia. My summary is pretty poor. The Lee Harris piece, as always, is clear and well thought out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This is Jim Rockford...

Was there ever a better tv show than The Rockford Files? I think not. C'mon, you're humming the theme song already. When I carve out my monument dedicated to charming Okies, I'm placing James Garner to the left of Ben Johnson and a little behind Will Rogers. Look up the word affable in the dictionary and you'll probably find his name there. Maybe that's why he was so good at playing tricksters and guys on the con. In every episode we learn some new underworld scam factoid or see Rockford apply some streetwise defensive maneuver that's simple, impromptu, and more plausible than, say, a MacGyver mousetrap. I hope I remember to use some of these if ever a couple of suited goons corner me and try to break my neck. I also love the way Garner's accent becomes more pronounced when he gets excited. It sounds pleasing and authentic, much the way Larry Hagman's I Dream of Jeannie accent did before he started over-hamming it as J.R. As for screentime, Rockford gets plenty of room to move around and get comfortable. It seems like he's in almost every scene. Sure, the writers had a few other outs, but I'd wager that he had more lines and more screentime per episode than most top-billed stars do in feature films. Garner must have worked his tail off, every week, and he made it seem so smooth and easy.

Panoramic interactive pictures

Culture of corruption

Thomas Sowell persuasively advocates single term limits – though I’m not sure if I’m completely on board with that. Still, when you look at Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy, it’s difficult to argue the other way.

My idea of good reform is twofold: 1) forget about spending limits and restrictions on gifts. If Abramoff wants to cater a Scottish golf trip or a $20+ dinner for DeLay or whoever, more power to them. Just make it transparent. If George Soros wants to bankroll half the Democratic candidates – why not, so long as the rest of us can know it? We need to move away from criminalizing politics. 2) The incentive for lobbyists like Abramoff comes largely from Congress’s purse strings. By changing how pork projects are added to bills and by changing the circumstances that lead to big omnibills, perhaps some of that incentive could be eliminated. The same could be done in the overall legislative process. The end result should be that legislators still bat for their states but through creating a pro growth environment instead of feeding at the money trough. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much political will for that.

As an aside: one very faulty way of assessing a legislator is by measuring the amount of tax dollars leaving his state to the incoming federal dollars. It was once pointed out to me that Oklahoma reps were low on the totem pole in this regard. However, that yardstick perpetuates pork problems. By putting in reps who promise to get as much federal dollars back to their state, you’ve effectively elected a person dedicated to pork spending.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Two different takes on handling Iran:

Steyn and Zakaria. Both think military action would be messy and would likely charge Iranian nationalism. Neither sees very many carrots or sticks in America’s diplomatic satchel and both feel we should be more creative and proactive since there’s no wholly good option to choose. Steyn sees meaningful cooperation with China and Russia as very unlikely. Zakaria sees the Iranian standoff as an opportunity to forge an alliance with these two countries – as well as western Europe. While Zakaria focuses on those countries for outside pressure, Steyn would appeal to local neighbors with Sunni sensibilities to give the mullahs an insurrection of their own. Curiously, Zakaria confidently assumes Iran is 3 or so years from the bomb and that their program lacks sophistication. Where’s his post Iraq skepticism of the intelligence community? Steyn thinks they're a year away from the bomb.

A little late, but congratulations are in order for TD Allman

His book is recommended reading by the voice confirmed as Osama's. Now it's Miller time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

U.S. Wins Support In Iran Dispute

China, Russia Join Call to Suspend Nuclear Program

Well, not quite. They’ve joined the “call” in the sort of toothless Kellogg-Briand fashion. Read the story and see (as Reuters does a better job of pointing out)that China and Russia still reject doing anything serious about Iran. I’m not sure what their aversion to sending the issue to the Security Council is. After all, they’d still have about one to two decades of status quo. And if sanctions are applied, I’m sure Kofi wouldn’t mind looking the other way so they can keep their trade going with Iran. Perhaps they’re afraid of the Cookie Duster sheriff?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Welcome BS

The following opinion piece about Congressional hand ringing over renewing the Patriot Act provisions has all the standard misinformation talking points found in your average left of center US paper – from Bush defying the law with the NSA to the public being “shocked” over domestic spying – as well as the implied relation between NSA and the Patriot Act. What makes is different and even welcome is that it comes from a Beijing rag. Perhaps the Chinese reader will notice the concern the US Congress has between liberty and security and will draw a contrast to their own People’s government – assuming the piece is in the Chinese pages. Some good can come of anti-Bushism, yet.

…a case of fewer terrorists showing up for dinner

That’s the take from Confederate Yankee regarding the recent Predator strike in Pakistan. His post seems as reasonable an assessment as others floating on the web. It’s always tragic to hit women and children, but it’s unavoidable with an enemy that up-armors its homes and vehicles with human shields. When’s the last time the Israelis have taken out a terrorist without killing 2 or 3 kids in the process?
So we didn’t get the #2 and will have to content ourselves with playing whack-a-mole with #3s a while longer.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Feeding the duck

What's the difference between feeding the Alito nomination to the Democrats and the Chinese technique of force feeding a duck?...
You feel sorry for the duck.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Peter Cushing

Warning: the following post is a spoiler for anyone planning to watch the 1959 version of the Mummy.

To review: Peter Cushing is the most competent Van Helsing and the cruelest Dr. Frankenstein to grace the screen. That brings us up to this installment. He’s also the greatest John Banning…ever. Remember the Bannings?

Kharis sure as hell does.

He spent a good chunk of the last century trying to hunt them down, first in Maplewood, USA and then later, in the Hammer films, at some posh neighborhood in England located conveniently near an insane asylum. I’m not sure where in England, exactly. It’s sort’ve like the village near Frankenstein’s castle – where was that exactly? The old ladies were English, the burgomaster was Prussian and the torch wielding mob, judging by their use of fire, must have been French. Viva la monster’s death!

But I digress. John Banning was on the expedition, but cot ridden and nursing a broken leg when his dad, Stephen Banning, violated Ananka’s tomb and read from the Scroll of Life, thus re-activating Christopher Lee’s acting career for another 88 minutes (is that a curse? I think not!). Kharis grabbed the scroll and Stephen Banning spent the rest of his life beside himself. That is until years later, back in England, when Kharis peeled off the bars of Stephens padded room and gave the old man a good choking.
How did Kharis get to England? His handler....

...a sith like priest in the miniscule cult of Ananka, brought him in a casket marked “relics, just some old relics…nothing more.” He moved in to John’s neighborhood. And John Banning took a little time piecing it all together (a rare case of the deniability factor for Mr. Cushing, in fact, the only one I can think of if you don’t count Star Wars), but by the time the second murder happened – to another party of the expedition, he figured it out.

Notice how quickly Kharis gets from point A to point B. Like a man with a purpose. The Universal Kharis was often laughably slow. Not the Hammer mummy. Christopher Lee lumbers onward, straight to his prey. But he cannot multitask – and though the next night’s victim is there in the room, Kharis returns to his master. John fires his pistol….
But the monster still moves?
Peter Cushing is a master of props. In fact, one of his nicknames was Peter Props. He could fiddle with something or smoke a cigarette in a manner that seemed effortless and natural. He doesn’t come off as too self aware as most of the later method actors do. Personally, I like my Peter Cushing in a Victorian study with a glass of brandy and a gun cabinet. Which is why I like The Mummy.
In most horror or sci-fi films, the bad guy or creature starts off in the film as being completely invulnerable and often excessively powerful. But two hours of a bad movie can drain the energy from anything and towards the end, the hero faces a drastically weakened creature, though presumably nothing has changed. The result is that the finale is often something that wasn’t remotely plausible at the beginning of the picture. That doesn’t happen in The Mummy. Kharis busts through the french doors of John Bannings study as quickly as he tore open the bars of his dad’s cell, and broke down the front door to get that other guy. Kharis is still quite unstoppable. But, when its John’s turn to die, he keeps his cool and does everything in his power to slow Kharis down – perhaps the fractions of a second will allow an opportunity to present itself.
First, he blasts him twice with the shotgun

Kharis is still unstoppable - forcing John to strategically redeploy over his desk.

Peter Props makes excellent use of a harpoon.

Yet, the bastard mummy is still unstoppable.Until the opportunity stumbles in.

It never hurts if your wife is the spitting image of queen Ananka, which is why I added that to my eHarmony wish list.

Now most fellows would still be crapping in their britches after such a near death experience. But not John Banning. He goes to handler's house (once he figures where it is…just down the street)
and craps on his religion instead – in a gentlemanly way, of course.
Which sets up a finale with more of this:
And more of this:
And this:
The film has several weak spots in the script, but because of Terence Fisher's direction and the cast, particularly Peter Cushing, it weathers past those and is thoroughly entertaining.

I haven't had a chance to watch the hearings

But I imagine this Protein Wisdom summary of Biden v Alito seems likely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The People’s government simply cannot understand freedom

A meeting between Chinese and Japanese diplomats in Beijing on Monday made
little headway in resolving bilateral issues….

Hmm, I wonder what’s getting in the way this time: Koizumi at Yasukuni again? Did a Chinese actress portray another Japanese lady in a glossy American movie? Perhaps some salaryman was overheard disparaging the character of a Chinese person?

"….with discussion instead focusing on whether Japan should put a muzzle on the
nation's news media.”

And then the Chinese foreign minister, presumably with a straight face, asks:

"Why does the Japanese media only focus on the negative aspects of China?" asked
Cui Tiankai, director-general of Asian affairs at the Chinese foreign ministry,
according to Japanese officials present at the meeting.

The obvious Chinese solution:

"In order to produce good coverage, the government in China provides guidance to
the media. The Japanese government should provide similar guidance," Cui said.

And with help from Microsoft and Google, such "guidance" has never been easier!

Incidentally, you’d be hard pressed to find much in the way of positive news about Japan in the Chinese papers. But that's different, since Japan is evil, right?

The laughs don’t stop there. The story ends with one Chinese official lamenting:

"While we have built up a mature relationship with the United States, it is
regrettable that we cannot do the same with our neighbor, Japan."

That is a pity, but one that's easily remedied. Simply act like an adult. Problem solved.

So much for the Chinese national pastime

It's true that the Chinese treat their country like it's one big baseball diamond. Next thing you know, public defecation will be outlawed.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Alas, this came too late to help me sue Edward Copeland for commenting anonymously on this blog

Because Liverputty strives to adhere to the law, I urge all members to change their handles to their birth names. I prefer to be annoying in a manner that is both safe and legal.

What do you bet he’s got a little extra patience he’s not telling us about?

Believe it or not, it's that time again...time for El Baradei to make he's periodic "we're running out of patience" remark. This time, though, he means it! Don't you roll your eyes at him if you know what's good for you!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It truly sucks that DeLay is stepping down

bulldog on Ankle Biting Pundits is right, DeLay did the right thing. However, my crystal ball says that congress will end up doing the wrong thing in response to Abramoff. Instead of setting rules at the source of the problem, such as controlling how pork is included into bills & stuff like that, they will choose to make more ethics rules that will do nothing but create the impression of reform - McCain/Feingold style.

Stephen Hayes on the mountain of unexplored intelligence

Summary: About 50,000 of 2 million items have been analyzed. From the material that has been looked at, we've learned that between 1999 & 2002, elite Iraqi military units trained an estimated 8 thousand islamic terrorists. The group assigned to this material is understaffed and still hasn't been able to set up a good system to vet everything. A congressman from Michigan, Pete Hoekstra, has been trying for weeks to get some documents, but to no avail. Some want the material to be declassified entirely. The administration is hesitant because it's afraid the press will cherry pick materials to undercut the war effort. As for pooling more resources into ciphering the material, the Administration is choosing instead to those resources in analyzing data for current and future threats.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sharon Dies

Ehud Olmert has some big shoes to fill. I hope he can carry on the vision. (via Drudge)

UPDATE: he's not dead - perhaps in stable condition. Oi.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Two Constitutional Law professors discuss impeachment

On one side is Hugh Hewitt and on the other is Professor Rosa Brooks. Guess which one knows what they are talking about.

I’ve noticed that the pro-impeachment crowd has consistently tried to assert their “reality community” bona-fides by disclaiming that ‘sure, Bush won’t be impeached because the GOP has congress’, yet, they betray their sense of reality by thinking impeachment would be ideal in the first place. Here’s a rule of thumb: if you think Bush qualifies for impeachment, you have an acute case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Take 2 chill pills a day and spend less time in the fever swamp.

Godspeed, Sharon. Here's praying for your recovery

No kidding

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi criticized China and South Korea during his New
Year's news conference Wednesday, claiming it is Beijing and Seoul, not Tokyo,
that should work to resolve their long-standing gripes over his repeated visits
to Yasukuni Shrine.

Read down the story a bit, and you get to the source of the problem:

Koizumi described his decision to continue his shrine visits as "a matter of the
heart" that should not be interfered with by anyone who respects
freedom of thought

Well, that leaves out the People's Party.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Peter Cushing

Dr. Frankenstein, as played by Colin Clive in the Universal Pictures, is, relatively speaking, a sympathetic character. Sure, he was driven to madness and obsession, but that’s just because he was a victim of his own genius. Ultimately, we expect him to repent or somehow correct himself. He spends much of his time in the second Frankenstein regretting his madness in the first Frankenstein – and who could blame him? After all, he’s torn between his science and his angelic wife.

Peter Cushing’s Doctor/Baron carries no such baggage. He’s not some promising fellow who’s led astray by his own brilliance. Rather, his whole being is geared towards the dark path. His course is steady and sure. Like Hwang Woo-suk, the Doctor/Baron is not satisfied patching together monster puppies.

If Woo-suk is all show and no science, then the vain Doctor/Baron is all science and no show. Right after the creation of the monster puppy, we see the Baron’s partner excited about sharing the good news with the scientific community.

Notice the calm in the Doctor/Baron’s demeanor. He has no intention of sharing their breakthrough with others. His purpose from the get-go was to create a man, as cursed and damned as you ever saw. His partner is horrified and refuses to take part, but that doesn’t stop the Doctor/Baron from proceeding, getting parts by hook or crook or sometimes……murder.

He was going after that fella’s brain – which brings up a curious oversight. If you were after the professor’s noodle, then why kill him in a way that would smash the skull? Nevertheless, Peter Cushing plays the coldest most ruthless Frankenstein ever. He never frets about what he is doing or what he has done – but he’s always thinking about how to move forward.

Notice how the local religious authority is outraged and confronting the doctor, yet the doctor is too busy with his work to pay him any mind.

Even when he creates a hospital for the poor in Revenge of Frankenstein, his purpose remains singular – to create another man. The destitute patients merely provide a front for his nefarious activities, as well as a 24 hour pull-o-part.

When Hammer Studios first planned on making a Frankenstein picture, Universal would not allow them to use it's Karloff styled monster. As a result, The Curse of Frankenstein is a big departure from the Universal brand. If you recall, the Universal monster was quite indestructible. Sure, all the Universal freak stars had their hand at playing him, but it was still the same monster - so much so that it assumed the title name. And some of the conditions in which the monster was destroyed and yet preserved, were pretty horrendous. For instance:

the sulfur pit-

in ice (more than once)-


In short, it sucks to be him. In contrast, Peter Cushing works on his monsters like a mechanic works on so many cars:

Remember the classic 57’ Lee with the black top and the variegated eyeballs?

Or the 1969 Pravda with the removable hard top and racing lobotomy scar?

My favorite was the 67’ Denburg with the sexy curves and the 5 liter ta-tas.
What a ride!

In the Universal pictures, the monster is the chief menace, even if it is sympathetic. In the Hammer films, the Doctor/Baron is the real bad guy and there’s nothing sympathetic about him. True, the monsters kill a person or two in each of the Hammer films, but Peter Cushing is usually responsible for worse. Terence Fisher more or less reconciled this difference between monster and doctor in the second movie by simply making the Doctor/Baron the monster.

Dr. Frank will see you now.

The one Hammer flick that's the black sheep of the bunch is 1964’s The Evil of Frankenstein. It does not carry on from its Hammer predecessors, but more or less takes up where the 1932 Universal film leaves off – though the story borrows generously from the Son of Frankenstein. Only, with less of Rathbone’s nervousness

and more of Cushing’s sly confidence.
In true Universal fashion, the monster is like a re-heatable snack, recovered, yet again, from the ice. Tupperware is still trying to find the Doctor’s secret. (Incidentally, The Evil of Frankenstein may not be held in high esteem, but there's an excellent sequence when the Doctor/Baron recounts when he first created the monster.)

But mostly, the Hammer films tend to downplay the supernatural, indestructable elements. In that light, the Doctor/Baron’s meglamania has no larger evil to redeem himself against – making him more controlling and vile than if he had. And Peter Cushing brilliantly seizes on that.