Michel Piccoli, Fritz Lang, Jack Palance, and Jean-Luc Godard on the set of Le mépris (1963)
In 1935 Forrest J Ackerman sent a Christmas card to H.P. Lovecraft expressing weird wishes for a “Cthulhuichristmas & Necronomiconew Yr”, as well as a photo of Peter Lorre from “Mad Love” (1935). Lovecraft replied, and Forry printed the letter in his science fiction fanzine “Imagination” #4 January, 1938. This issue is also noted for having the first story by Ray Bradbury to appear in print. The letter Forry submitted to “Imagination” is for sale on Ebay:
IMAGINATION: #4 38 Jan
3 YRS AGO HPL RCVD FROM FJA A COMPOSITE KODAK OF THE ‘MASTER MANIAC & DAMSEL IN DISTRESS’ FROM MACABRE MOVIE “MAD LOVE”, ACCOMPANIED BY A CARD EXPRESSING WEIRD WISHES FOR A ‘CTHULHUICHRISTMAS & NECRONOMICONEW YR’. THE DAY BEFORE XMAS, 1934, HPL ACKNOWLEDGED RECEIPT OF THIS STILL OF THE CINEMA’S ‘LORD HI MINISTER OF ALL THAT IS SINISTER’. “HP LOVECRAFT RE PETER LORRE” WE PUBLISH FOLLOWING EXACTLY AS RCVD BY FORRY—PRECISELY AS PENNED BY…LOVECRAFT!
66 College St.,
Dec. 24, 1935
Let me thank you most sincerely for the malignly hypnotic photograph of the egg-domed gentleman which reached me yesterday. Surely this pleasant chap looks as if he had but recently wriggled forth from an accursed tomb, & were prepared to wreak upon mankind any & every sort of evil from mere vampirism* to cosmos-blasting invocation of the ultimate black powers of horror! It’s a wonder that the accompanying lady doesn’t look more frightened than she does … . & one may imagine the hideous bass dissonances which issue forth from that shadowy chickering as clammy corpse-fingers draw a danse macabre on its time-stained ivory keys!
This portrait is really very timely, since a great many correspondents have been urging me to see some film – in fact, any film – in which the sinister Mr. Lorre is featured. “Mad Love” has been especially recommended, & I have been quite alertly on the lookout for it, but somehow or other it has escaped me so far. After this glimpse I shall double the alerttness of my vigil. Ordinarily I see very few films — & most of the allegedly weird ones which I have seen (“Frankenstein”, “The Ghoul”, &c.) were so naïve & conventional in their appeal that they did not encourage persistence in the quest for thrills. Lately, however, so many have assured me that Lorre is the real thing, that I am determined to make his projected acquaintance at the very first opportunity. Again let me thank you for the vivid view – which I shall add with appreciation to my files.
With the season’s best wishes, & trusting that your New Year may be replete with startling messages from the trans-galatic other, I am
Yours most cordially,
(H. P. Lovecraft)
Hannah Höch (1889-1978), Dada-Puppen, 1916/1918 Textiles, carton et perles.
Berlinische Galerie. Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur.
Acquis avec des fonds de la Stiftung DKLB, Berlin 1979 © 2008 ProLitteris, Zürich.
© Photo: Archives de la Berlinische Galerie et Markus Hawlik
Man Ray, Indestructible objet, 1923 - 1959, Métronome et collage de photographie, 22,2 x 12 x 11 cm, Paris, Centre Pompidou.
"Catherine E. Coulson & Charlotte Stewart at the USC School of Cinematic Arts screening of Eraserhead 11/20/2013"
Catherine E. Coulson (who played The Log Lady in Twin Peaks) was a Camera Assistant, and Assistant Director on David Lynch’s Eraserhead. She was also married to Jack Nance and did his hair in the film. She’s as interesting a character in person as Lynch is, and had several interesting stories to tell about the production of Eraserhead. She said that David and his brother John designed and built all the sets, and hand stenciled the chevron zig-zag floor pattern in the lobby of Henry Spencer’s apt (which was later used in the design of The Black Lodge in Twin Peaks). Catherine was originally going to play a nurse at the hospital when Mary X and Henry go to pickup the baby, but the scene was dropped and never filmed. She also mentioned scenes that were filmed and later cut after the first screening when Lynch became concerned that the film was too long.
One cut scene was of Henry pulling a vaporizer (for the sick baby) out of a drawer that’s completely filled with vanilla pudding and lined with rows of peas. Catherine was the camera assistant on this scene and mentioned that she was sad the scene isn’t in the film as she did a great job of pulling focus. She also mentioned it was shot with an Eclair Cameflex CM3 (which is a camera I have). I’ve also seen production photo’s of the Cameflex being used with a blimp, and photos of an Arri-2C, and a Mitchell BNCR.
Jeanne Field (crew member) described operating the artificial chicken, and operating the baby (but Catherine interrupted her and said “We don’t talk about the baby”).
Catherine described another weird situation where David ask her to find real umbilical cords, and she contacted UCLA Medical Center who agreed to supply them. They were used in the scene where Henry pulls them out of Mary X. This scene was originally longer and Lynch had made a body cast of Charlotte Stewart. Mary X’s abdomen would have cracked open and Henry would have pulled out fetuses. Laurel Near “The Lady in the Radiator” asked Catherine if the umbilical cords her character steps are were real, but Catherine said those were fake. Catherine said the The Lady in the Radiator’s dress was her prom dress, and that that David applied her makeup which consisted of cotton balls and latex. This was the first time Laurel Near had attended a screening of Eraserhead since the premiere.
Another cut scene involved Mary X floating through Henry’s apt when she leaves to go to her mother’s. It was done with Mary roller skating through the room, and a fan blowing to move her hair in an unusual way.
Here’s a detailed interview with Catherine E. Coulson on Eraserhead:
"Real live nurses and a real ambulance from nearby St.Joseph’s Hospital are ready to handle panicked patrons as Frankenstein comes to Parkersburg, West Virginia. It’s early 1932”
"Dracula" theater display, 1931.
Great directors on set of great films (45 photos).
Some great things coming to Cinephilia and Beyond over the coming months. I have boxes of never-before-published material. Digitizing takes time (and money.) Please consider subscribing/donating below.