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John J. Mescall, A.S.C. (January 10, 1899 – February 10, 1962) was an American cinematographer.He photographed such silent films as Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), but he is best known for his work in the 1930s at Universal Pictures, where he often worked on the films of James Whale. Mescall was famous for his elaborate (some might say grandiose), effective camera movements, in which the camera would often track completely across or around a set, or even one performer (as it does around Paul Robeson while he sings Ol' Man River in the 1936 film version of Show Boat). He would not always use these kinds of camera movements (The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg has none), but his most famous films all have them.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Show Boat(1936), both directed by James Whale, are generally named among Mescall's greatest achievements in cinematography. In the former, his distinctive angles added greatly to the scene depicting the creation of the bride. Mescall also did uncredited work for Whale's The Invisible Man (1933).
Mescall also filmed The Road Back (1937) for Whale, an ill-fated sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Both are based on novels by Erich Maria Remarque. Though visually compelling, The Road Back bombed at the box-office, in part due to a well-publicized editing dispute between Whale and Universal executives. The film's cast included Noah Beery Jr. and Richard Cromwell.
Unfortunately, after the 1939 "weepie" When Tomorrow Comes , starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in their second film together, Mescall was limited to working in a series of forgettable films, except for the 1944 film-noir Dark Waters , starring Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone, and Thomas Mitchell. He photographed two Sonja Henie films at Twentieth Century-Fox, and also did uncredited work on the 1944 film The Bridge of San Luis Rey . He received his only Academy Award nomination, oddly enough, not for his work on the Universal classics (which also included such films as Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat ), but for his lensing of the semi-forgotten 1942 romantic comedy Take a Letter, Darling starring Fred MacMurray and Rosalind Russell.
James Whale was an English film director, theatre director and actor, who spent the greater part of his career in Hollywood. He is best remembered for several horror films: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), all considered classics. Whale also directed films in other genres, including the 1936 film version of the musical Show Boat.
William Henry Pratt, better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor who was primarily known for his roles in horror films. He portrayed Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He also appeared as Imhotep in The Mummy (1932).
The Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American science fiction horror film, and the first sequel to Universal Pictures' 1931 film Frankenstein. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest sequels in cinematic history, with many fans and critics considering it to be an improvement on the original Frankenstein. As with the first film, Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as the Monster. The sequel features Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of Mary Shelley and the titular character at the end of the film. Colin Clive reprises his role as Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger plays the role of Doctor Septimus Pretorius.
Creighton Tull Chaney, known by his stage name Lon Chaney Jr., was an American actor known for playing Larry Talbot in the film The Wolf Man (1941) and its various crossovers, Count Alucard in Son of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster in The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), the Mummy in three pictures, and various other roles in many Universal horror films. He also portrayed Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men (1939) and supporting parts in dozens of mainstream movies. Originally referenced in films as Creighton Chaney, he was later credited as "Lon Chaney, Jr." in 1935, and after Man Made Monster (1941), beginning as early as The Wolf Man later that same year, he was almost always billed under his more famous father's name as Lon Chaney at the studio's insistence. Chaney had English, French, and Irish ancestry, and his career in movies and television spanned four decades, from 1931 to 1971.
Robert Florey was a French-American director, screenwriter, film journalist and actor.
Franz Waxman was a German-born composer of Jewish descent, known primarily for his work in the film music genre. His film scores include Bride of Frankenstein, Rebecca, Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, Stalag 17, Rear Window, Peyton Place, The Nun's Story, and Taras Bulba. He received twelve Academy Award nominations, and won two Oscars in consecutive years. He also received a Golden Globe Award for the former film. Bernard Herrmann said that the score for Taras Bulba was "the score of a lifetime."
Carl Laemmle Jr. was an American businessman and heir of Carl Laemmle, who had founded Universal Studios. He was head of production at the studio from 1928 to 1936.
Bess Flowers was an American actress best known for her work as an extra in hundreds of films. She was known as "The Queen of the Hollywood Extras," appearing in more than 350 feature films and numerous comedy shorts in her 41-year career.
Francis Ford was an American film actor, writer and director. He was the mentor and elder brother of film director John Ford. He also appeared in many of the latter's movies, including Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) and The Quiet Man (1952).
Mae Clarke was an American actress. She is widely remembered for playing Henry Frankenstein's bride Elizabeth, who is chased by Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, and for being on the receiving end of James Cagney's halved grapefruit in The Public Enemy. Both films were released in 1931.
Universal Classic Monsters is a name given to the horror, fantasy, thriller and science fiction films made by Universal Pictures during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. They were the first shared universe in mainstream film. They began with The Phantom of the Opera, a classic silent film starring Lon Chaney. Universal Classic Monsters continued with talkies including core monsters in the franchise Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The films often featured Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and/or Lon Chaney Jr.
John L. Balderston was an American playwright and screenwriter best remembered for his horror and fantasy scripts. He wrote the 1926 play Berkeley Square and the 1927 American adaptation of the 1924 play Dracula.
Forrester Harvey was an Irish film actor.
Charles D. Hall was a British-American art director and production designer. He is perhaps best remembered for his tenure at Universal Pictures, where he began his career during the silent era. He was art director for many of Universal's most famous productions of the 1920s and '30's: The Phantom of the Opera (1925), All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), the original Bela Lugosi Dracula (1931), the original Magnificent Obsession (1935), and the 1936 My Man Godfrey among them, as well as eleven films directed by James Whale, including the original Boris Karloff Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and the 1936 film version of Show Boat. Hall also worked on the 1929 part-talkie film version of Show Boat, directed by Harry A. Pollard.
Hector William "Harry" Cording was an English-American actor. He is perhaps best remembered for his roles in the films The Black Cat (1934) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).
Joseph A. McDonough was an assistant director in Hollywood, perhaps most noted for working often with James Whale, even after Whale left Universal Studios. Among the films he worked on with Whale at Universal were Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the 1936 version of Show Boat. At MGM, McDonough worked with Whale on the unsuccessful Port of Seven Seas (1938), an American, and somewhat disguised, adaptation of the French Marcel Pagnol "Marius Trilogy".
Theodore John Kent was an American film editor who was nominated for Best Film Editing at the 1964 Academy Awards for the film Father Goose. He worked on over 150 films from 1929 to 1967, including many classic Universal horror films.
Edgar Norton was an English-born American character actor.
Vera West was an American fashion designer and film costume designer. From 1928 to 1947, she was the chief costume designer for Universal Pictures.
George Robinson (1890–1958) was an American cinematographer. At the beginning of his career he acted in several short films before switching to work behind the camera. He was employed by Vitagraph and later by Universal Pictures.
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