I loved the horror movies of the 1930's and '40s. However, other than memorizing a few lines of unforgettable dialogue and knowing who played the lead, I really don't know that much about film history.
I've always had a soft spot for King Kong. We share the same birthday, we were both born in 1933, and neither of us like ocean voyages. Kong was, for me, the most sympathetic monster to come from RKO Studios. The poor guy was gassed, gorilla-napped and brought back to New York in chains. Although the chains were made of "chrome steel," they were not nearly strong enough to hold him when he again saw Fay Wray and thought she was in danger from the popping flash bulbs. Poor Kong met his fate like all too many New Yorkers, He was chased, and machine gunned and fell to his death in midtown Manhattan in front of a gawking and unsympathetic mob.
On the other hand, my good friend, Vin DiFate, a leading science fiction illustrator, knows everything about movies--horror movies, fantasy films and especially science fiction. He not only knows the names of the stars, supporting actors, and spear carriers, he also knows the name of the guy who punches the sprocket holes in the sides of the film as well as Dwight Frye's shoe size.
Vin was weaned on the science fiction films of the 1950's and one of his favorites was the 3D epic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. In my humble opinion, although the film was fine, the "Creature" was a rather pushy aquatic reptile with an over active libido. It was love at first fright when he first saw Julia Adams, who played the female lead in the film. It was understandable and inevitable, that he would develop a serious crush on Julia, but I ask you, was it worth getting harpooned for? However, Vin loves these films both wisely and well; Godzilla, the Invasion of the Saucer Men, the She-Creature--I mean all of them.
The 50's for me, meant those wonderful western oaters; John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and especially the grim visaged Gary Cooper facing down the bad guys at high noon.
Anyway, while happily creating a group of drawings of films of the 30's that would be an homage to my misspent youth--much of which was spent in seedy movie houses hiding under my seat and being frightened out of my wit's while trying to unlock my jaws from the vise like grip of half chewed Jujubes--Vin says to me, "How about expanding the project to include the films of the 1950's?"
I agreed to expand my project if Vin would help me by providing some reference material for the drawings and in essence vetting the project. He kindly agreed and here we are.
I truly hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor. If you don't, blame Vincent DiFate. He made me do it.
Illustrations by Murray Tinkelman