THE MONSTER MAKER (1944)

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The Monster Maker Cover Hey, guys and girls. Please let us all chillax for a moment, OK? We know the monster is alive and wants to kill us. But that doesn't necessarily stop us from watching the following 62 minute movie made in 1944. It was Directed by: Sam Newfield; and Starred: J. Carrol Naish, Ralph Morgan, Tala Birell, with Glenn Strange.


The Monster Maker (1944)


THE STORY:
A couple of days ago I came to see you at your surgery, Doctor Markoff (J. Carrol Naish), because my beautiful young daughter Patricia (Wanda McKay) told me you had upset her.

'Daddy' she said. 'Do you remember that strange man who kept on looking at me at your concert recital last night? Well, afterwards he started to pester me with a number of token gifts, supposedly because I reminded him of his dearly departed wife!'.

Yeah. That's right. That's what she said. So that's why I said to myself, 'Anthony Lawrence (Ralph Morgan). Even though you're a world renounced pianist, you still got to protect you're kin by sorting this mess out'.

However, during our confrontation you did something to me, didn't you? You infected me with a rare disease -- a very rare disease -- one that over time sped up my metabolism, forced my bones to grow, and basically turned me into the hideous looking creature you see before you today.

Now at first I didn't realize what you had done to me, Markoff. But after I saw my regular doctor, who informed me about my condition, stating you were the only person who could cure me, well, it was easy for me to figure out what was what.

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all takes a short nap when your orderly Steve (Glenn Strange) smacks me on the back of my head and knocks me out. As a Doctor tries to make a monkey out of his aide - a lovely woman has a nice glass of lemonade - a plan is hatched to invoke wedding bliss - and at the end of the day, you've got to love a world renounced concert pianist.




THE REVIEW:
At face value I'd say 'The Monster Maker' is one of those films that looks fairly fine on the surface, as it has some pretty stoic acting and a number of very memorable set pieces which were rather pithy for it's time. Yet underneath it all, folks, the basic story-line relies heavily on us -- the audience -- connecting with the motivations behind some of the characters involved.

The Monster Maker Starring J. Carrol Naish and Ralph Morgan
Now I'm pretty damn certain nobody could connect with the main villain of this piece -- as played by Carrol Naish -- because who in their right mind would sympathize with a mad scientist that has infected the father of someone he loves, with the intent of forcing her to marry him for a possible cure.

Heck, the only obvious person anyone could connect with was the father in question -- as played by Ralph Morgan -- cause in many ways I saw him as the link that connected the whole story-line together. He was the character Carrol used to commit his devilish deed. He was the character that his daughter wanted to save. And he was the character that generally guided us through the first half of this tale.  

To some extent you could also connect with the daughter and the doctor's feminine aide, too -- as played by Wanda McKay and Tala Birell. In my opinion both of these roles where used to instill a much needed emotional bond between either-side of the equation. And in each case they were used to hit home what they meant to their 'associative others', whilst at the same time driving the plot along in the right direction.

Furthermore, I must say that the sets and the monster make-up's were pretty damn good for this type of movie. Not overtly realistic, of course. But for it's time it did manage to make me suspend disbelief without making me chuckle in the process. 


The Monster Maker Starring Ralph Morgan


The Monster Maker 1944 Film Posters
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment, dear reader. By now I'm sure you know what I thought about this fairly engaging film. So for the time being let's relax, sit back, and check out the following filmic-facts. (1) 'PRC' first released this production in America on the exact same day the Soviet Army captured the Polish town of Tarnopol. It was on the 15th of April, 1944. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Manufacturer of Monsters' in Italy, 'The Creator of Monsters' in France, and during pre-production, it was given the working-title, 'The Devil's Apprentice'. (3) That native New Yorker who directed this film, Sam Newfield, was also related to the eventual head of 'PRC Pictures', Sigmund Neufeld. Sam's his younger brother. (4) Believe it or not, the 'Legion of Decency' awarded this flick with a 'B rating' due to its... coff-coff... "excessive gruesomeness". (5) Albert Glasser was paid $250 for composing the music for this movie, which wasn't that bad considering this was his first full-length-feature assignment. (6) Throughout this adventure the characters played by Glenn Strange and Carrol Naish made numerous references to Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. Coincidentally, Glenn would also play 'the Monster' in 'House of Frankenstein' -- made later that same year. Where as Carrol would play Dr. Frankenstein in his last ever film role -- 1971's 'Dracula vs. Frankenstein'. (7) Larry Williams was the screenwriter who originally wrote the script for this picture, and he's best known for playing a teacher opposite the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Regan, in 'Bedtime for Bonzo'. (8) After this flick came back to life, Carrol Naish starred in the drama, 'A Medal for Benny'; Ralph Morgan starred in the comedy, 'Trocadero', and Glenn Strange starred in the western, 'Twilight on the Prairie'.


The Monster Maker Starring J. Carrol Naish


Overall I'd say 'The Monster Maker' was an above average film for its time. The acting was pretty OK. The story was an associative one by nature. And all in all -- yeah -- good job -- because I would defiantly add this to my ever increasing re-make list.

Ha! Nuff said. 

THE RATING: B-