Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The She-Creature

In the mid-1950s, the idea of reincarnation hit the mainstream with a bang with the unexpected success of “The Search for Bridey Murphy” a (supposedly) non-fiction account of a woman who, while under a deep hypnosis, revealed details about a previous life several centuries previously in England. It was a huge best seller and in 1956 became a movie of the same name starring Teresa Wright and Louis Hayward.

That same year, up-and-coming American International Pictures (AIP), made their own reincarnation movie, but in true AIP fashion, added a monster.

“The She-Creature” relates the story of a hypnotist (Chester Morris) who puts his assistant (the beauteous Marla English) in a deep trance. While in this trance an earlier manifestation of her, when she was a prehistoric monster, emerges from the sea to do his bidding, including murder. This is perpetuated by a shady businessman (Tom Conway).

It’s a fun little B movie, and moves along at 77 minutes. Most of the enjoyment centers on the wealth of character actors that dot the proceedings. Producer Richard Gordon was a huge movie fan and enjoyed giving roles to actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Film buffs get the pleasure of seeing two actors best remembered for their 1940s detective portrayals (Morris was Boston Blackie and Conway was The Falcon) on the other side of the law. There’s also: Frank Jenks as a cop; Frieda Inescort as a society lady (she really does the most memorable voice); El Brendel as, what else, a Swedish servant; frequent Three Stooges foil Kenneth McDonald as a doctor; and Jack Mulhall as a lawyer. Their presence ups the movie’s enjoyment value considerably.

The film also contains one of the most memorable creations of make up man Paul Blaisdell. Toiling in relatively anonymity at AIP, he remains today a cult figure, creating memorable monsters out of the tiniest of budgets. His She-Creature creation is a gem.

Rating for “The She-Creature”: Two and a half stars.


Dees Stribling said...

Wasn't Tom Conway the reason that Tim Conway was known as Tim?

Kevin Deany said...

Hmmm. Don't know if I ever heard that. Tom Conway was George Sanders' brother (known in real-life Hollywood as the nice George Sanders) and both possessed those marvelous speaking voices. If you closed your eyes, and listened you would be hard pressed to say which brother was speaking.

George Sanders played The Falcon in the first couple of movies in the series, but grew bored with the role and asked to be killed off, if memory serves. So his real life brother, Tom Conway, took over the role in "The Falcon's Brother."

Not too surprising he was bored. Sanders had played The Saint in several movies, and there's little difference between The Saint and The Falcon.