Stuff from the movies that I, well, WANT!!
Section 1: The Art Gallery:
Paintings are important props in many movies. They also rank very high on my I’d Kill To Own That list.
Society girl Roma Courtney (Carole Lombard) is taken over by the spirit of executed serial killer, Ruth Rogen (Vivienne Osborne), who uses her to pursue her vengeance against the man who betrayed her to the police. “Roma” leads Paul Bavian (Alan Dinehart) to Ruth’s studio, where she reveals the artist’s last work, a self-portrait:
The painting is, of course, a portrait of actress Vivienne Osborne; but it absolutely captures Osborne in character as the artist-killer.
This is another case where I have been unable so far to identify the artist. I will update this post if I find out (or if anyone knows?).
The Two Mrs Carrolls (1947):
I know people go on and on about The Return Of Dr X, but to my way of thinking Humphrey Bogart is much more convincing as an undead child murderer than he is in this overblown Warners melodrama, which casts him as philandering artist cum practising Bluebeard, Geoffrey Carroll.
Sally Morton (Barbara Stanwyck) breaks off her holiday romance with Carroll after she discovers he is married, but when he comes her to as a widower some time later, she agrees to marry him. In the meantime, Carroll has found critical success with an unnerving work showing his late wife as the Angel of Death. We are given two glimpses of the painting is question, one while it is still a work in progress, the other after it is finished:
…but that’s not why we’re here:
After marrying Sally, Carroll finds that his artistic inspiration has dried up—at least until he begins an illicit romance with the cool, selfish Cecily Latham (Alexis Smith). Carroll then throws himself back into his work, although he forbids Sally from going into his studio to see his latest painting. But as she learns more about the first Mrs Carroll’s life and death – and as her own health begins, mysteriously, to deteriorate – Sally bides her time and then penetrates her husband’s forbidden sanctum:
(The paintings in The Two Mrs Carrolls were the work of studio artist John Decker, who died prematurely the same year this film was released.)
The credits of this British horror film play over a macabre painting, full of details whose significance will not be evident until the end of the film. We see a flesh-eating demon, cowled figures, fingerless hands and severed fingers; and, incongruously, a young woman in a transparent nightgown, smiling as she dances amongst these horrors:
The camera then pulls back to show us that, in-film, this painting is the work of Peter Cushing (who did in fact number painting amongst his hobbies):
I am yet to discover the identity of the painting’s real creator, but if I find out I will add that detail here. (If anyone knows, please let me know!)
Section 2: Objets d’Art
Snake imagery is ubiquitous in this Universal production; in the decor, stitched into the costumes, and in the art design. However, several items in particular make my heart contract with envy whenever I watch this film.
The most important in context is the least visually impressive: the McGuffin-ish “Cobra Jewel”, actually a small statuette, which is the symbol of the power of High Priestess Naja (Maria Montez):
Sometimes Naja hands the Cobra Jewel to her Law-Giver, Martok (Edgar Barrier)—who also carries a simply splendid Cobra Staff (which doubles as a sword-stick for those awkward moments):
Naja also boasts a simply fabulous snake-themed head-dress:
Best of all though, is Naja’s golden (well, okay…gilt) snake-throne, which looms over the action from the back of the throne-room set:
That would just go ducky in the corner of my living-room…