Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dead of Night (1945) Revisited

by Jordan Prejean

          Dead of Night, the 1945 horror anthology film from Britain’s venerable Ealing Studios, is one of the most influential and highly regarded horror films of the classic era. The film’s reputation for terror rests primarily with the fifth, and final, segment of the film, “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy,” one of the most imitated of all short horror films. The film has inspired a host of imitations and homages, including several episodes of The Twilight Zone, as well as many other horror anthologies on both film and television. 

          Unfortunately, the film has never been readily available in the United States. It is crying out for attention from the folks at the Criterion Collection or Kino Lorber. Those that have not seen the film may catch an infrequent screening on Turner Classic Movies or send for an expensive, out-of-print double feature DVD from Anchor Bay in which it is paired with the exceptional but thematically unrelated 1949 dark fantasy film The Queen of Spades (based on the 1934 short story by Alexander Pushkin). Those with a region-free Blu-ray player can send for the 2014 Blu-ray release from StudioCanal, which features a restoration of the film from the British Film Institute and a 76-minute documentary, “Remembering Dead of Night.”
          For the uninitiated, the film consists of five short tales of supernatural horror (and comedy) connected by a framing narrative which sees an architect (Mervyn Johns) visit a country manor house that exactly mirrors the setting and events of a recurring dream he has been having. When the architect reveals this odd coincidence, as well as an uncanny ability of precognition, to the members of a small social gathering at the house, it spurs each guest in turn to recount a strange incident in their own lives. 
via www.notcoming.com
          Dead of Night is notable for being the first full-blooded horror film to emerge from the post-war era of British filmmaking. Since 1936, the British Board of Film Censors, much like its American counterpart the Production Code Administration, began actively discouraging the production and distribution of horror films. Beyond the increasingly gruesome and sexualized nature of horror films during the Pre-Code era (before July, 1934) was the perception that horror films produced a negative effect on the national psyche during a time of war. Universal Studios was eventually encouraged to continue its successful series of Frankenstein films, with Son of Frankenstein (1939), only after viewing the surprisingly high returns from a triple feature re-release of Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and Son of Kong (1933) at the Regina Theater in Los Angeles in the summer of 1938.
          In Great Britain, beyond drawing room thrillers, supernatural comedies, and the occasional Tod Slaughter melodrama, a return to the production of supernatural horror films would have to wait until 1945 and Dead of Night. Ealing Studios was notable for producing patriotic war films to boost public morale and would later become famous for the “Ealing Comedy,” a type of darkly satirical film exemplified by Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Whiskey Galore! (1949), The Man in the White Suit (1951), and The Ladykillers (1955). It was unusual, then, that Ealing would utilize its talented stable of actors and technicians to produce a horror anthology, albeit one with several moments of dark comedy. Ealing would return to the anthology format with 1949’s Train of Events, a drama with dark undercurrents but nothing approaching the outright terror of Dead of Night. 

          At this point, the anthology format should be very familiar to horror film fans as everything from Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror (1962) to Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1964) to the Amicus films (1965-1974) to Creepshow (1982) to Trick ‘r Treat (2007) to a hundred more in-between, including numerous television efforts, have utilized the format in different and interesting ways. In 1945, the horror anthology film was still in its infancy and there was little precedent for success. Though there were anthology films which contained horror elements before Dead of Night (silent German cinema gave us Richard Oswald’s Eerie Tales in 1919, Fritz Lang’s Destiny in 1921, and Paul Leni’s Waxworks in 1924) the Ealing Studios film set a standard for format and quality which still influences filmmakers today. 

E.F. Benson (via ISFDB)
          Dead of Night was written by Angus McPhail, John Baines, and T.E.B. Clarke, deriving its subject and tone from the literary tradition of British ghost stories. Despite the variety of the subject’s treatment, the film credits only two literary sources. E.F. Benson provides the inspiration for the framing narrative with his story “The Room in the Tower” (1912), which also relates how a man’s recurring dream becomes reality with horrifying results. Another Benson story, “The Bus-Conductor,” first published in the December, 1906 issue of Pall Mall Magazine, inspired the first of the five principle segments, “The Hearse Driver,” directed by Basil Deardon. It tells of a race-car driver (Anthony Baird) who sees a deadly portent in the form a hearse driver while recuperating in the hospital following an accident on the track. Benson’s story, and its haunting refrain, “room for one more,” have nearly become apocryphal. The story has gone on to inspire a host of other properties, including the second season Twilight Zone episode "Twenty-Two" (February 10, 1961) and a story, “Room for One More,” in Alvin Schwartz’s much loved and often banned collection of folktales, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (J.B. Lippincott, 1981). Benson is the author of the Mapp and Lucia series of novels (six volumes, 1920-1939), an upper-class comedy of manners which has inspired two television series. He is also well-known for having written many of the most chilling stories of the post-Edwardian era, including “Caterpillars” (1912), “The Horror-Horn” (1922), and “Mrs. Amworth” (1922), this latter tale being memorably filmed in 1975 with Glynis Johns and broadcast as part of the British/Canadian television series Classics Dark and Dangerous in 1977.+ Benson’s ghostly tales are collected in The Room in the Tower and Other Stories (1912), Visible and Invisible (1923), Spook Stories (1928), and More Spook Stories (1934). His Collected Ghost Stories appeared in 1992 from Robinson (U.K.) and Carroll & Graf (U.S.).  
          The film also credits H.G. Wells for “The Golfing Story,” the comical, and much derided, fourth segment of the film directed by Charles Crichton. This darkly humorous segment most closely resembles the comedies for which Ealing would soon become well-known. The segment is nominally taken from Well’s “The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost” from the March, 1902 issue of The Strand Magazine. Besides these two credits, the film presents the rest of the stories as original to the screenplay.
          The second segment, “The Christmas Party,” directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, is told by a teenaged girl (Sally Ann Howes) and concerns a Christmas party, a game of hide-and-go-seek, and the ghost of a long-ago murder. This segment was likely inspired by two sources. The first is the real-life murder of three year old Francis Kent by his sixteen year old half-sister Constance Kent in 1860 in the village of Road in Wiltshire (now Rode in Somerset). Young Francis was first discovered missing from the main house and later found in an outhouse with severe lacerations about his body, including a severe throat wound. Constance was not initially brought to trial because of class differences with the working-class detective that first targeted the girl as a suspect. Five years later, Constance made a confession to an Anglo-Catholic clergyman describing how she first abducted young Francis from the house and then killed him in an outhouse using a stolen razor. Constance was subsequently sentenced to death but this was quickly commuted to a life sentence, of which she served twenty years before immigrating to Australia and living to a ripe 100 years. 
Constance Kent (via Wikipedia)
          “The Christmas Party” also bears resemblance to the short story “Smee” by English author A.M. Burrage, a story first published in the December, 1929 issue of Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine. For years the story would be reprinted under Burrage’s pseudonym “Ex-Private X.” Burrage was a prolific writer specializing in short fiction for the crowded magazine market of the day, covering everything from boy’s adventure fiction to a scathing anti-war memoir to many of the creepiest ghost stories of the time. “Smee” was reprinted in Burrage’s 1931 collection Someone in the Room, an excellent volume of supernatural tales that also contains “The Waxwork,” adapted for the fourth season of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and one of his finest stories, “The Sweeper.” Dennis Wheatley included “Smee” in his massive 1935 survey A Century of Horror Stories and it was later included in Alfred Hitchcock’s Fireside Book of Suspense Stories in 1947, the fifth volume in a long line of horror and mystery anthologies to bear the director’s name.
A.M. Burrage
“Smee” also concerns a Christmas party and a game of hide-and-go-seek as well as the story of a young girl who previously died in the house by falling down a dark staircase and breaking her neck. The guests at the party decide to play a variation of hide-and-go-seek called “Smee,” the word being derivative of “It’s me.” Since the object of the game is to roam around a large, dark house attempting to find the player labeled “Smee,” it is easy to imagine how the story ends, especially when one considers the girl with the broken neck and how that sort of nasty accident might produce a ghost.  
          The third segment, “The Haunted Mirror,” directed by Robert Hamer, concerns an antique mirror which reveals a malevolent room and suggests an occupant who seems always to be hidden from view. It is a reasonably original treatment of a concept, the haunted or enchanted mirror, which harkens back to tales of antiquity. It is interesting to note that “The Haunted Mirror” segment, with its idea of an antique object that visually reveals a horrible hidden past, was likely an influence on the 1974 Amicus film From Beyond the Grave, a film based on four stories by English author R. Chetwynd-Hayes. That film contains two segments suggestive of the Dead of Night haunted mirror story. Milton Subotsky, one half of the Amicus production team, was a great admirer of Dead of Night and became a prolific writer and producer of horror anthology films modeled on a formula largely established by the Ealing film, this being three to five short segments with a narrative framing story. 

          The first segment of From Beyond the Grave, “The Gatecrasher,” concerns a man (David Warner) who purchases an antique mirror that houses an ancient, evil entity, played to eerie perfection by Marcel Steiner. After an impromptu séance awakens the spirit, it first demands blood sacrifices from its helpless subject before pulling a switcheroo to free itself from the mirror. The final segment of the film, “The Door,” tells of a young man (Ian Ogilvy) who installs an antique door in his home only to discover the door opens to reveal a very old room that once belong to an evil sorcerer (Jack Watson) who happens to still be around.
         
Michael Redgrave and Hugo
The final segment of Dead of Night, “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy,” also helmed by Alberto Cavalcanti, is likely familiar to every horror film fan, even those who have never seen the film, such is its reputation as a frightening segment. A ventriloquist, Maxwell Frere (Michael Redgrave), is convinced that his dummy, Hugo, is alive and malevolent. When Hugo tricks the ventriloquist into shooting a rival for the dummy’s affections (Harley Power), Maxwell snaps and destroys the dummy. Hugo gets the last laugh, however, as the confrontation has destroyed Maxwell’s mind in a most disturbing way.
          This segment was likely inspired by two sources. The first is the 1929 film The Great Gabbo, a musical melodrama concerning a ventriloquist (Eric von Stroheim) who becomes increasingly dependent on his dummy for expression as he descends into madness. The Great Gabbo was adapted from the short story “The Rival Dummy” by Ben Hecht, first published in Liberty Magazine on August 18, 1928. Though The Great Gabbo is not a horror film, it is of interest to horror film fans as it appears to be the origin of the subgenre of the evil ventriloquist dummy. “The Rival Dummy” was adapted for radio, on the Mollé Mystery Theatre for November 1, 1946, starring Walter Slezak, and for television on Westinghouse Studio One on September 19, 1949, starring Paul Lukas and Anne Francis. 
Eric von Stroheim and dummy
          “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” segment received its own radio adaptations. “Dead of Night,” which utilized only the “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” segment of the film, was the one-off episode of Out of This World for February 28, 1947 and was again performed as the pilot episode of Escape! for March 21, 1947. Both shows featured Berry Kroeger and Art Carney.^
         
Gerald Kersh (via Wikipedia)
The segment also owes a debt to Gerald Kersh’s 1939 story, “The Extraordinarily Horrible Dummy.” Kersh’s story concerns a ventriloquist driven mad by a dummy he believes to be alive and possessed by the spirit of his dead father, who, when alive, was an overbearing taskmaster. Kersh’s story was first published in Penguin Parade #6 and was included in the author’s 1944 collection The Horrible Dummy and Other Stories. It was twice adapted and performed as “The Whisper” for the Lights Out television series, first on September 23, 1949 and again on July 3, 1950.  

      Ramsey Campbell, preeminent author of modern British horror fiction, suggests that H. Russell Wakefield's short story of a horrible ventriloquist's dummy, "Farewell Performance," first published in 1940 for the author's collection The Clock Strikes Twelve (Herbert Jenkins Publisher, UK), be considered an influential work on a theme similar to that presented in "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" segment. The Clock Strikes Twelve was reprinted in 1946 by Arkham House, Wakefield's first book printed by the legendary small press. Ramsey Campbell's own work in relation to tales of horrible dolls and dummies is explored in Leigh Blackmore's fascinating essay, "A Puppet's Parody of Joy: Dolls, Puppets, and Mannikins as Diabolical Other in Ramsey Campbell," collected in Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (ed. Gary William Crawford, Scarecrow Press, 2013). The essay is exceedingly useful in directing curious readers to a number of horror and fantasy stories on a similar theme. Twilight Zone actors John Hoyt ("The Lateness of the Hour" and "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?") and Alan Napier ("Passage on the Lady Anne") were joined by Joan Shawlee in a television adaptation of  Wakefield's "Farewell Perfomance" for Pepsi-Cola Playhouse on January 22, 1954. The story was adapted by writer W.J. Stuart and director John English, and re-aired as an episode of the mystery/thriller anthology series Moment of Fear on July 20, 1965, upon which basis editor Peter Haining included the tale in his 1993 compilation, The Television Late Night Horror Omnibus. 
    “The Ventriloquist's Dummy” segment has itself inspired countless variations on the tale of a ventriloquist dummy that is alive and either trying to take over the body of the ventriloquist or spur the ventriloquist to some ill-advised action. One memorable example is “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy!” from issue #28 of the EC Comics title, Tales from the Crypt (Feb/Mar, 1952). Written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, it tells of a ventriloquist whose dummy is imbued with life not by a supernatural source but rather through a hideous birth defect. The tale was adapted on June 5, 1990 for the second season of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt series with Don Rickles as the ventriloquist and Bobcat Goldthwait as an unwary admirer.
          Ostensibly inspired by the Dead of Night segment, Alfred Hitchcock Presents approached similar material in 1956 and again in 1957. Ray Bradbury, a frequent contributor to the Hitchcock series in its early years, adapted his 1953 short story “And So Died Riabouchinska” (The Saint Detective Magazine, June/July, 1953) for the first season of the series, on February 12, 1956, with uninspiring results. Even the presence of Claude Rains as a ventriloquist who has fallen in love with his dummy and Charles Bronson as a detective investigating a murder tied to the ventriloquist cannot save the episode from its flimsy story foundation. Bradbury previously sold the story as a radio play to the CBS radio series Suspense in 1947, where it was adapted by writer Mel Dinelli and broadcast on November 13th of that year.* Bradbury subsequently adapted the story for the second season of The Ray Bradbury Theater on May 28, 1988.  
          Much more successful was the third season opener of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “The Glass Eye,” which aired on October 6, 1957. Based on the John Keir Cross story from 1944, taken from his excellent collection The Other Passenger, it concerns a woman (Jessica Tandy) who becomes obsessed with a ventriloquist (Tom Conway) who harbors a disturbing secret concerning his identity.
         
Cliff Robertson and Willy
The third season Twilight Zone episode, “The Dummy” (May 4, 1962), features a manic Cliff Robertson channeling his inner Michael Redgrave and is nearly a direct remake of the Dead of Night segment. The episode remains highly effective, however, and ups the ante on the horror of the final twist in the tale with disturbing makeup effects from future Academy Award winner William Tuttle. The series revisited the theme, much less effectively, in the fifth season episode “Caesar and Me” (April 10, 1964).
          The otherwise uninteresting 1964 film Devil Doll also contains an evil dummy named Hugo. Anthony Hopkins stars as a troubled ventriloquist in the disturbing 1978 psychological suspense film Magic, adapted by William Goldman from his bestselling 1976 novel. Goosebumps author R.L. Stine has derived a lot of mileage from the concept beginning with Night of the Living Dummy in May, 1993 and continuing on through a slew of sequels and spin-offs. 
Anthony Hopkins and Fats the Dummy
          Dead of Night finishes its quintet of tales with a nightmarish montage tying all the stories into one whole, only to begin anew with the closing credits. The theme of the recurring dream as deadly omen has also been borrowed from the film. Twilight Zone writer Charles Beaumont used the concept for two of his finest contributions to that series, the first season’s “Perchance to Dream” (November 27, 1959), starring Richard Conte and John Larch, and the second season’s “Shadow Play” (May 5, 1961), starring Dennis Weaver and Harry Townes. “The Overnight Case,” the tenth episode of the excellent but short-lived 1961 horror anthology series ‘Way Out, features a woman (Barbara Baxley) who is unable to wake up from a nightmare within a nightmare. One of the frequent story elements of Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (1959-1961) was the dream of premonition, much like that experience by the architect in Dead of Night.
Dead of Night remains a horror film which casts a long shadow of influence and one which can be repeatedly examined to reveal new layers of insight. The numerous horror anthology films to follow in its wake owe the film a debt of inspiration. It has set a standard which has rarely been equaled. It is long past time for this film to receive an accessible home video treatment in the U.S.  

Dead of Night (09/04/1945)
(U.S. release: 06/28/1946)
Great Britain: Ealing Studios (production), Eagle-Lion (J. Arthur Rank)                                                (distribution), Universal Studios (U.S. distribution), 105 minutes
Five Stories: "The Hearse Driver," "The Christmas Story," "The Haunted                                             Mirror," "The Golfing Story," "The Ventriloquist's Dummy," and a                                 "Framing Narrative"
Producers: Michael Balcon
                   Sidney Cole (associate)
                   John Croydon (associate)
Directors: Basil Deardon ("Framing Narrative" and "The Hearse Driver")
                  Alberto Cavalcanti ("The Christmas Story" and "The Ventriloquist's                               Dummy")
                  Robert Hamer ("The Haunted Mirror")
                  Charles Chrichton ("The Golfing Story")
Editor: Charles Hasse
Screenplay: John V. Baines, Angus MacPhail, T.E.B. Clarke
Sources: -"The Room in the Tower" by E.F. Benson (Pall Mall Magazine,                                    January, 1912) for "Framing Narrative." 
               -"The Bus-Conductor" by E.F. Benson (Pall Mall Magazine,                                          December, 1906) for "The Hearse Driver" segment.
               -"The Inexperienced Ghost" by H.G. Wells (Twelve Stories and a                                    Dream, 1903) for "The Golfing Story."  
Photography: Douglas Slocombe
Art Direction: Michael Relph
Music: Georges Auric (comp.), Ernest Irving (cond.), Frank Weir and his Sextet
Sound: Eric Williams
Costumes: Marion Horn, Bianca Mosca
Makeup: Tom Shenton
Visual Effects: Lionel Banes, Cliff Richardson
Featuring: Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Googie Withers, 
                  Frederick Valk, Anthony Baird, Sally Ann Howes, Robert Wyndham,                             Judy Kelly, Miles Malleson, Michael Allan, Barbara Leake, Ralph                                 Michael, Esme Percy, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Peggy Bryan,
                  Allan Jeayes, Michael Redgrave, Elisabeth Welch, Hartley Power,
                  Magda Kun, Garry Marsh, Renee Gadd
                  
*Grateful acknowledgement is made to Jack Seabrook for his article, "Ray Bradbury on TV Part Two: Alfred Hitchcock Presents 'And So Died Riabouchinska.'"Bare Bones E-Zine (barebonesez.blogspot.com), August 23, 2012. Accessed: May 6, 2016. 

 +There is little consistent information about Classics Dark and Dangerous, with some sources citing a production date as early as 1971. Date of production used herein was taken from Un-Dead TV: The Ultimate Guide to Vampire Television by Brad Middleton (Light Unseen Media, 2012). Broadcast information was taken from tvarchive.ca (an information database of classic Canadian television programs). 

^The Digital Deli Too provided information concerning the radio adaptations of "The Rival Dummy" and "Dead of Night" 


The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.org) provided bibliographic details.

Notes:
    -The initial U.S. release print of the film was edited down from 105 minutes to 77 minutes not, as some sources have suggested, to make the film less frightening for U.S. audiences but rather for a more manageable running time, customary of the time. "The Christmas Story" segment and "The Golfing Story" segment were cut entirely from the film. The film has been permanently restored to its original running time. 

-“Dead of Night,” or some variation thereof, is the title of several other horror properties, most notably a 1972 BBC2 horror anthology television series, a 1974 horror film more commonly known by the alternate title Deathdream, which was directed by Bob Clark, written by Alan Ormsby, and featured the first professional makeup work of industry legend Tom Savini, and the 1977 television anthology film directed by Dan Curtis and written by Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson.





Saturday, June 4, 2016

"It's a Good Life"

Little Anthony Freemont (Bill Mumy). He's a real good boy.
You had better not think bad thoughts about him.


“It’s a Good Life”
Season Three, Episode 73
Original Air Date: November 3, 1961

Cast:
Mr. Fremont: John Larch
Mrs. Fremont: Cloris Leachman
Anthony Fremont: Billy Mumy
Dan Hollis: Don Keefer
Ethel Hollis: Jeanne Bates
Aunt Amy: Alice Frost
Pat Riley: Casey Adams (Max Showalter)
Thelma Dunn: Lenore Kingston
Bill Soames: Tom Hatcher

Crew:
Writer: Rod Serling (based on the story by Jerome Bixby)
Director: James Sheldon
Producer: Buck Houghton
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis and Phil Barber
Set Decoration: H. Web Arrowsmith
Assistant Director: E. Darrell Hallenbeck
Editor: Jason H. Bernie
Story Consultant: Richard McDonagh
Sound: Franklin Milton and Bill Edmondson
Casting: Stalmaster-Lister
Music: Stock

And now, Mr. Serling:
“Next week we borrow from the exceptional talent of author Jerome Bixby. It’s an adaptation of what has been called one of the most terrifying modern fantasies ever written. What you’ll see is, in a sense, a portrait of a monster as a young boy. Next week’s very special excursion into the Twilight Zone is called ‘It’s a Good Life.’ I hope we see you then.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
“Tonight’s story on the Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there’s a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village has somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines, because they displeased him. And he moved an entire community back into the Dark Ages, just by using his mind. Now I’d like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It’s in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot. She began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn’t like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you’re looking at now. She sings no more. And you’ll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio have to smile. They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you better start thinking happy thoughts because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.”

Summary:
There is trouble in the town of Peaksville, Ohio. There isn’t enough food. There are no telephones and no electricity. There hasn’t been any contact from outside of the town in months and the population is dwindling. There is no way to leave town and the inhabitants live under a constant cloud of fear and hopelessness. Except for one particular resident who feels just fine.
Little Anthony Freemont has a special talent: the ability to do anything he wants simply by thinking about it. He can turn a person or animal into anything he wants. Or if he wants them gone he just wishes them into the cornfield and they never return. He can make it rain or snow. He can move things with his mind. He can also read thoughts so the townsfolk have to be extra careful to think happy thoughts around Anthony.
            Anthony doesn’t like barking dogs. He doesn’t like machines, telephones, radios, or automobiles. He is especially cross about singing. He also doesn’t like when people think or say bad things about him. And for those unfortunate souls who make the mistake of thinking bad thoughts about Anthony, time is severely limited. But everyone in Peaksville loves little Anthony. He’s a real good boy and he does real good things.
            Except for Dan Hollis, of course.
 Dan doesn’t care for the way Anthony has been treating everyone. So one night after too many drinks at the Fremont house he tells him so. He begins to scream at Anthony, who simply stares back at him with unchecked rage. Everyone in town is present and Hollis pleads with them to kill the boy while his attention is focused elsewhere. But to his horror no one moves. And he realizes that he has written his death sentence. Anthony turns Hollis into a jack-in-the-box right there in front of everyone. His father pleads with him to wish the horrifying spectacle away. So he does.
It begins to snow outside. Concerned for the summer crops, Anthony’s father asks him if he is responsible for the snow and the boy admits that he is. Baffled by annoyance and rage his father almost loses his temper but catches himself. Snow is a good thing, he tells his son. A real good thing. And tomorrow is going to be a real good day.


Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“No comment here. No comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens: little Anthony Fremont, age six, who lives in a village called Peaksville in a place that used to be Ohio. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had better think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk. Because if you do meet Anthony you can be sure of one thing. You have entered the Twilight Zone.”

Commentary:
            “It’s a Good Life,” Rod Serling’s adaptation of Jerome Bixby’s exceptional short story, has the distinction of being the darkest episode The Twilight Zone ever produced. It’s an unapologetic horror story set in a bleak, hopeless world full of bleak, hopeless people who live in constant fear of their lives from an omnipotent, unpredictable monster who feels no sympathy for others and no remorse for his actions. It begins on a grim note and then gets worse. There are no happy endings or morality lessons and there isn’t a single moment of optimism anywhere in the episode. It’s only a glimpse at the miserable lives of these unfortunate people.
“It’s a Good Life,” the short story upon which the episode is based, is arguably the best-known work of author Jerome Bixby. It was first published by Frederick Pohl in volume 2 of the uniformly excellent Star Science Fiction series in 1953 and later included in the 1960 volume Star of Stars, gathering the best stories from the Star series (seven volumes, including Star Short Novels, 1953-1959). The story was translated as early as 1957, quickly recognized for its excellence in artistry and originality of concept, arriving at a time in English language literature in which the child as an instrument of violence was gaining traction as a sociological subject among fiction writers. The following year would see the publication of two pivotal, and highly regarded, mainstream works approaching the topic with William March’s The Bad Seed (adapted for stage in 1954 and filmed in 1956) and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (filmed in 1963 and again in 1990).
Serling’s adaptation remains faithful to Bixby’s story with only a handful of noticeable changes. In the original story Bixby implies that Anthony is capable of teleportation although he never describes it extensively. Dan Hollis's fate is also different. Instead of turning him into a jack-in-the-box he turns him into “something like nothing anyone would have believed possible.” The most significant change was switching Anthony’s age from three to six which gives him a more developed personality. This switch is interesting because it paints Anthony as a different kind of villain. Fans and critics have often speculated as to whether Anthony is truly a psychopath or simply a child that has not learned how to empathize with others. Bixby’s version leans towards the latter and features Anthony performing acts of charity for various characters. Serling’s Anthony is colder and more controlling. He seems to function completely for his own enjoyment and destroys anything that doesn’t bring him pleasure.
If Bixby’s story was not initially as well received as the novels of March and Golding it is due less to literary craftsmanship and more to the limits of genre publications at the time. It has since become a classic in the subgenre of the science fiction horror story, greatly due to Rod Serling’s excellent adaptation for The Twilight Zone, and was awarded inclusion in the 1970 volume The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, which was compiled in an attempt to retroactively honor exceptional science fiction stories published before the establishment of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965.
Notable reprints include Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories for Late at Night (1961), an excellent volume of horror stories ghost-edited by Robert Arthur, co-creator of The Mysterious Traveler radio program and creator of The Three Investigators series of mystery novels for children, the latter of which was initially published with the participation of Alfred Hitchcock. Arthur also included Bixby’s 1964 short story “The Young One” in the 1965 anthology Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum, a volume of horror stories aimed at younger readers. In October of 1966, Isaac Asimov reprinted “It’s a Good Life” in the anthology Tomorrow’s Children not long after Asimov, in March of the same year, published the novelization of the film Fantastic Voyage, which was based on a short story by Bixby and Otto Klement. “It’s a Good Life” has since become a standard of both science fiction and horror anthologies and seen republication in dozens of volumes. It is also included in the 1985 anthology The Twilight Zone: The Original Stories edited by Richard Matheson, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh. Rod Serling’s teleplay adaptation of the story was initially published in the Nov/Dec, 1983 issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine and can also be found in As Timeless as Infinity: The Complete Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling, Volume 8 (ed. Tony Albarella, Gauntlet Press, 2011).
Jerome Bixby was born Drexel Jerome Lewis Bixby in Los Angeles on January 11, 1923 and enjoyed a long and fruitful career working in various capacities within the science fiction field. He sold his first science fiction story, “Tubemonkey,” to the pulp magazine Planet Stories, an early market for fellow Zone writer Ray Bradbury, for the Winter, 1949 issue. Two issues later, in the summer of 1950, Bixby assumed editorship of Planet Stories, a position he held until July, 1951. Bixby found additional editing work in the dying days of the pulps, guiding Jungle Stories from the Fall, 1949 issue to the Spring, 1951 issue, Stories of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle for the Spring, 1951 issue, and Two Complete Science Fiction Adventure Novels from the Winter, 1950 issue to the Summer, 1951 issue.
Bixby soon began to write a series of regular columns detailing movements in science fiction fandom. For Startling Stories he wrote “Review of the Current Science Fiction Fan Publications” from January, 1952 until March, 1953, and supplemented this with “The Frying Pan: A Commentary on Fandom” in Thrilling Wonder Stories from December, 1951 until February, 1953. Bixby began to fully concentrate on writing short fiction in 1953, culminating in the excellent 1964 collection Space by the Tale.
            Bixby began writing for feature films with 1958’s It! The Terror from Beyond Space, an independent, low-budget offering from producer Robert E. Kent and director Edward L. Kahn, which featured Ray “Crash” Corrigan in an alien suit designed and created by Paul Blaisdell terrorizing a group of astronauts inside a claustrophobic spacecraft. The film is generally considered to have influenced Dan O’Bannon when writing the screenplay for Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien, a film which also concerns a hostile alien stowaway which begins killing the crew aboard a spacecraft. Bixby wrote two additional science fiction films in 1958, Curse of the Faceless Man, again for producer Robert E. Kent and director Edward L Cahn, and The Lost Missile.
Bixby contributed significantly to the television program Men into Space, a series which fumblingly attempted a more accurate and realistic depiction of manned space travel. The series lasted only one season, thirty-eight episodes, from September, 1959 to September, 1960. Bixby was one of several science fiction writers who found work on Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek (1966-1969), along with Zone writers Richard Matheson, George Clayton Johnson, and Jerry Sohl. He contributed four episodes to the series and is credited with creating the “mirror universe” concept used again in subsequent episodes, originating from his Hugo Award nominated teleplay, “Mirror, Mirror,” the fourth episode of the second season, which was an adaptation of his 1954 short story originally published in Future Science Fiction for August, 1954. Another of Bixby’s highly regarded episodes, “Day of the Dove,” the seventh episode of the third season, was adapted and published as #10 in the Star Trek Fotonovel series in August, 1978.
Bixby, with writer Otto Klement, wrote the story treatment upon which the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage was based. The film concerns a crew of scientists that are reduced to microscopic size in order to enter the body of a dying scientist and alleviate a blood clot in his brain. Bixby and Klement originally envisioned the film as a period piece inspired by the scientific romances of Jules Verne. Screenwriter David Duncan adapted the story to a futuristic setting and provided a structured context which was written as a screenplay by Harry Kleiner. As stated before, Isaac Asimov was hired to write the novelization of the film, a book which inadvertently appeared in bookstores six months before the film’s release, creating the impression that Fantastic Voyage was an original novel from Asimov. The story was previously serialized in two parts as “Fantastic Voyage: Into the Human Brain” in the Saturday Evening Post issues for February 26 and March 12, 1966. The book, published in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin, subsequently became a bestseller.
Bixby’s final work was a screenplay titled The Man from Earth, about an ageless man who has survived since primitive times and eventually reveals his true nature to a group of friends. Bixby completed the screenplay shortly before his death in 1998 and the film was realized in 2007 (alternately titled Jerome Bixby’s The Man from Earth) by Bixby’s son, Emerson Bixby. Emerson Bixby, along with Jean Marie Stein, also collected a number of his father’s best science fiction stories for the 2014 book Mirror, Mirror: Classic SF by the Famed Star Trek and Fantastic Voyage Writer (Strange Particle Press). Jerome Bixby died on April 28, 1998 in San Bernardino, California, age 75.
“It’s a Good Life” was one of three original Twilight Zone episodes, along with “Kick the Can” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” chosen to be reimagined for Twilight Zone: The Movie, a 1983 Warner Brothers film. The film was spearheaded by John Landis and Steven Spielberg, each of whom directed a segment of the film, who recruited Joe Dante, following his successful werewolf film The Howling (1981), and George Miller, following his successful post-apocalyptic film The Road Warrior (1981), the second film in the Mad Max series, to direct the two additional segments that comprise the film.
Landis directed the first segment of the film, “Time Out,” the only segment which was not a remake of an original series episode. The segment concerns a racist (Vic Morrow) who discovers himself transported into times of civil oppression as one of the oppressed. The segment is now infamous for the deaths of Morrow and two child actors resulting from the disastrous staging of a special effects shot, which saw an explosion engulf a helicopter which subsequently fell on top of Morrow and the two children who were unable to move to safety due to being partially submerged in water below.
Spielberg chose to remake George Clayton Johnson’s third season episode “Kick the Can” and George Miller took on Richard Matheson’s unforgettable “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” the final segment of the film. In between these two segments was Joe Dante’s version of “It’s a Good Life.”
Original series writer Richard Matheson was brought on to adapt “It’s a Good Life,” going back to the original episode as well as Jerome Bixby’s story. The result was a special effects bonanza with a superficial happy ending tacked onto what is naturally a very bleak concept. Backlash from viewers was immediate due to the happy ending, which stood in stark contrast to the original episode, one of the bleakest episodes of the original series. He also includes glimpses into the world outside of Peaksville which provides a possible escape scenario for his captives and waters down the feeling of isolation that is so present in the two previous versions. In his book, Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes (McFarland, 1991), film historian Tom Weaver prints his interview with Richard Matheson in which Matheson states that the happy ending was a conscious attempt to alter the harshness of the story, one which he admitted was not very successful. Still, Matheson rates Dante’s segment as the best of the film.
The segment’s numerous special makeup effects were handled by Rob Bottin. Bottin was a protégé of makeup artist Rick Baker, who first brought Bottin on as an assistant for the 1976 version of King Kong. Bottin also worked with Baker on the 1978 film Fury, whose makeup effects were supervised by Twilight Zone makeup artist William Tuttle. Rick Baker was initially set to provide the makeup effects for Joe Dante’s The Howling when John Landis received funding for a long-gestating project, An American Werewolf in London, on which Baker had previously agreed to provide the effects. Baker left the production of The Howling and Bottin was subsequently left in charge of providing the effects. The resultant effects were impressive enough to ensure Bottin a long career in Hollywood, where he would provide exceptional work on films ranging from John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Legend (1985), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, and Total Recall (1990), for which he was part of team of visual effects artists that won a Special Achievement Academy Award.    
The film segment stars Kathleen Quinlan as a traveling young school teacher named Helen Foley, the name an homage to an original series character from the first season episode “Nightmare as a Child,” which was itself an homage to Rod Serling’s favorite school teacher, who encounters, and ultimately educates, the powerful boy Anthony Fremont, played in the film by Jeremy Licht. The segment is notable for containing a number of actors with ties to the original Twilight Zone series, including Kevin McCarthy (“Long Live Walter Jameson”), Patricia Barry (“The Chaser” and “I Dream of Genie”), and William Schallert (“Mr. Bevis”). Bill Mumy, star of three original series episodes and the original Anthony Fremont, also makes a brief appearance in the segment as well as original series producer Buck Houghton. The cast is rounded out by Nancy Cartwright, Cherie Currie, and Dick Miller.  
“It’s a Good Life” was given a sequel over forty years later with “It’s Still a Good Life,” an episode of the second Twilight Zone revival series, which ran for one season (twenty-two episodes) from 2002-2003 on the now-defunct UPN Network. The series was hosted by Forest Whitaker and followed a one-hour format typically comprised of two thirty minute segments. Upon original broadcast, “It’s Still a Good Life” was paired with “The Monsters Are on Maple Street,” a reimagining of Rod Serling’s classic original series episode, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”
*SPOILERS* “It’s Still a Good Life” finds Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman reprise their roles from the original episode as Anthony Fremont and his mother, Mrs. Fremont, here given a first name, Agnes. Anthony still controls Peaksville with his terrifying powers and remains the spoiled, petulant, easily angered boy he was despite forty years of physical aging. It is suggested that Anthony has sent his own father into the cornfield, that metaphor for the nothingness into which those that anger Anthony are cast. At some point Anthony married and had a child, Audrey, but Anthony’s wife angered him and she, too, was eventually sent away into the cornfield. Anthony is displeased when it becomes apparent that Audrey does not possess his awesome powers yet it is revealed that Audrey’s powers are both latent and much stronger than Anthony’s. One particular aspect of Audrey’s power is that she can bring things back, things that Anthony has sent away, including objects and people. This is something that Anthony cannot do.
When Agnes discovers Audrey’s power she is elated. Since Audrey appears to resent her father and his behavior, Agnes believes the girl can be the savior of the people of Peaksville and finally end Anthony’s reign of terror. When confronted, however, Audrey cannot bring herself to harm her father and instead sends everyone in Peaksville away, including her grandmother.
When this saddens her father, who quickly becomes lonely with no more people to control, Audrey brings back everything that Anthony had sent away, all the countries and cities and people and objects. The two then set off to explore the world, comfortable in the knowledge that anyone or anything that gets in their way will quickly be dealt with.
“It’s Still a Good Life” was written by series executive producer Ira Steven Behr, who wrote three additional episodes of the series, and directed by Allan Kroeker, who directed two additional episodes of the series. It is both a faithful and effective sequel to the original series episode, managing to retain the feeling of nervous tension that permeates the original episode while introducing an engaging subplot concerning Anthony’s daughter and the townspeople’s willingness to believe there could be an end to Anthony’s terrible reign of power. It comes recommended to those that enjoyed the original episode.
While Serling’s delivers a solid adaptation of Bixby’s story, it is the performances that take center stage in this episode. Bill Mumy returns here for his second appearance on the show, the first being in the second season episode, “Long Distance Call.” He also appears in the premiere episode of the fifth season, “In Praise of Pip.” He is the only child actor to appear in more than two episodes. It is largely his performance that fuels the debate as to whether Anthony is biologically a psychopath or a product of his circumstances. In his episode commentary to The Twilight Zone, The Definitive Edition DVD (Image Entertainment) Mumy says that Anthony believes he is helping people and that he approached his performance with this in mind. Regardless of the reason Anthony does what he does it is no question that he is one of if not the most terrifying monster ever featured on the show and Mumy delivers a genuinely unforgettable performance. The episode seems to have made a tremendous impact on the actor and he has stated in several interviews that it was one of his favorite projects. He even named his radio show, The Real Good Radio Hour, which air on FM station KSAV, after the episode.
             But it's the performances of the rest of the cast which give “It’s a Good Life” such an intense atmosphere. Because of the nature of the plot no character is ever really allowed to say or express their true feelings, except of course for Don Keefer who plays Dan Hollis. So the performer have to be able to express feelings of dread and misery through the guise of happiness. Cloris Leachman, who plays Anthony’s mother, was no stranger to television in the early days of the medium and would go on to become one of the most prolific actresses in its history, winning eight Primetime Emmy Awards. She also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Peter Bogdanovitch’s The Last Picture Show (1971). John Larch, who plays Anthony’s father, was also a prolific television actor, appearing largely in westerns. Don Keefer gives an amazing performance in this episode and the moment when he realizes that all of his friends have abandoned him to ensure their own survival is probably the best scene in the episode.
An atypical offering, “It’s a Good Life” has become one of the most recognizable episodes of the show. From Serling’s unusually long opening monologue to its overtly bleak storyline, it’s an episode that has encountered its share of criticism over the years. But despite this it’s one that has become a fan favorite. It has helped solidify a place for Jerome Bixby in the science fiction community and has become a notable mark on the resumes of its cast. A genuinely flawless episode, it has managed to stand the test of time and has deservedly become an immortalized piece of American popular culture.

Grade: A+

Grateful acknowledgement is made to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (isfdb.org) for images and bibliographic information, and to the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) for filmographic information.  

Notes:
--James Sheldon directed five additional episodes for the series: “The Whole Truth,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and “Long Distance Call” for the second season, and “Still Valley” and “I Sing the Body Electric” for the third season.
--John Larch also appeared in the first season episode “Perchance to Dream” and the third season episode “Dust.”
--Don Keefer also appeared in the fourth season episode “Passage on the Lady Anne” and the fifth season episode “From Agnes-With Love.”
--Bill Mumy also appeared in the second season episode “Long Distance Call” and the fifth season episode “In Praise of Pip.” In 2002 he co-wrote an episode of the second Twilight Zone revival series with Frederick Rappaport called “Found and Lost.” It originally aired on the UPN network on November 27.
--Alice Frost also appeared in the first season episode “The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine.”
--“It’s a Good Life” was adapted as part of Twilight Zone: The Movie, released by Warner Brothers on June 24, 1983. The segment was directed by Joe Dante, written by Richard Matheson, with special makeup effects by Rob Bottin. The segment starred Kathleen Quinlan, Jeremy Licht, Kevin McCarthy, Patricia Barry, William Schallert, and Nancy Cartwright.
--A sequel, “It’s Still a Good Life,” was produced for the second revival series and was originally aired on the UPN Network on February 19, 2003, starring Bill Mumy, Lilana Mumy, and Cloris Leachman.
--“It’s a Good Life” was produced as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Mike Starr.
--The proper title of the original Jerome Bixby story is “It’s a Good Life,” which an emphasis on “Good,” something which is decidedly represented in the episode’s dialogue.
--The beginning portion of Rod Serling's opening narration, "Tonight's story on the Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This as you may recognize is a…" is reused for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride at Disney's theme parks. The remainder of the narration is custom to the ride and perfomed in a Serling imiation by Mark Silverman.
--The song that Pat Riley (Casey Adams) is playing during the birthday party scene is “Moonglow,” written by Will Hudson, Irving Mills, and Eddie DeLange and originally recorded by Joe Venuti in 1933. The song eventually became a jazz standard with notable version by Benny Goodman, Doris Day, Billie Holiday, and The Coasters.



--Jordan Prejean and Brian Durant

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Television Work of the Early Makeup Masters:

William Tuttle, Dick Smith, and John Chambers 
by Jordan Prejean
William Tuttle with his makeup creations

Much has been made recently about the fact that television has caught up to Hollywood not only in terms of acting and storytelling but also in terms of technical production. Design, costuming, music, visual effects, photography, and the myriad other technical aspects of a television production now rival in quality the finest the big screen has to offer. One need only look to the work of artists such as Greg Nicotero on The Walking Dead, Nick Dudman on Penny Dreadful, or Eryn Krueger Mekash on American Horror Story to realize that special makeup effects work in television is equal to, and in many cases greater than, anything contained in a recent Hollywood production. Many of the finest makeup artists in the industry are returning to work on the small screen due to rising production values, a cooperative creative environment, and an opportunity to craft something singular using techniques that many feature film productions have begun to replace with digital means.
            The suggestion, however, that such excellent achievements in special makeup effects on television are a recent development is wholly misleading. Television has been a showcase for innovative makeup designs from its earliest days and the medium has often displayed exceptional work from the most revered names in the industry.
If you were only to take three television anthology series from the early years 1959-1963 and examine the three artists who made each of these shows memorable for unusual, inventive, and highly influential makeup designs, you would have three of the most significant makeup artists in the history of the industry. Between them, these men would claim four Academy Awards and a slew of Emmy, Saturn, and BAFTA Award nominations and wins over the course of long and fruitful careers. In fact, one could likely trace the entire lineage of American special makeup effects artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries to the three men responsible for this early television work: William Tuttle on The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), Dick Smith on ‘Way Out (1961), and John Chambers on The Outer Limits (1963-1965).  
In early 1959, Emmy Award winning writer Rod Serling, fed up with his confrontational scripts being censored by fearful corporate sponsors, developed a science fiction and fantasy television program with the CBS network, intending the science fiction genre to mask the controversial style of drama he was determined upon writing. Serling called his series The Twilight Zone and the West Coast production utilized the vast resources at Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios.
A publicity photo of Tuttle's work on "The Masks"
William Tuttle had been the head of the MGM Makeup Department since 1950. When Serling and company arrived at the studio to produce their unique anthology series, Tuttle sensed an opportunity to contribute makeup designs that would set the series apart from television’s already crowded science fiction landscape. After the show’s fifth and final season, when the series began its continual existence in syndication, the aesthetic of Tuttle’s inimitable makeup designs would see reproduction and reinterpretation in a variety of marketing material, from comic books to board games to lunchboxes to toys to posters and art prints, not to mention the memories of any viewer who happened upon the show.
Tuttle was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1912 and was forced to leave school early in order to support his mother and younger brother after his father abandoned the family. He gravitated early to art and music, trying his hand as both a comic and violin player in Vaudeville before making his way to the University of Southern California in the spring of 1930. Tuttle focused on art and developed a talent for molding and sculpture, skills he later utilized as an innovator in creating life masks to fine-tune the application of prosthetic appliances. Tuttle’s time at USC would direct the entire course of his professional life. He returned to the university to teach from 1970-1995, beginning a year after he vacated his position as head of the MGM Makeup Department due to a change in ownership of the studio. A permanent collection of more than 100 of Tuttle’s creations for film and television reside at the university.
Pioneering makeup artist Jack Dawn arrived at USC in early 1934 seeking a recommendation for a sculptor and a painter to assist in his increasing workload at MGM. Dawn was directed to Tuttle and Tuttle’s colleague Charles Schram. Dawn took both young artists under his tutelage and put them to work as assistants. It was at MGM and the 1935 production of Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire that a convincing bullet hole effect in the forehead of Bela Lugosi persuaded Dawn that Tuttle was capable of work beyond ordinary assistant procedures.
Two years later, Tuttle was applying Dawn’s innovative flexible appliances to transform white actors into Chinese farmers for the 1937 film The Good Earth. 1939 brought a career defining moment for Jack Dawn with The Wizard of Oz, perhaps the most intensive production in terms of makeup design and application in feature films to that point. Tuttle and Schram applied Dawn’s improved prosthetics as well as their own makeup designs to create the rigorous production’s iconic characters. Among the other uncredited makeup artists toiling on the set of the film was Fred Phillips, who fell under the mentorship of Tuttle and who would later work extensively with makeup artist John Chambers on properties such as The Outer Limits (1963-1965) and Star Trek (1966-1969).
For Tuttle, The Wizard of Oz was the beginning of a long climb to the top of MGM’s Makeup Department, earning the position after it was vacated by Jack Dawn in the fall of 1950. Tuttle became as renowned in the 1940s and 1950s for beautifying MGM’s contract stars (he was married to Donna Reed from 1943-1945) as he would become for his strange creations of the 1960s and beyond. By the time Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone came along in 1959, Tuttle had applied his skills to dozens of genre productions including Forbidden Planet (1956), North by Northwest (1959), and television’s Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond (1959-1961).
Tuttle's work aging Kevin McCarthy for "Long Live Walter Jameson"
Though Tuttle was initially expected to consult and occasionally supervise episodes of The Twilight Zone which required a unique or challenging makeup effect, he frequently elected to work directly with the show’s production team by crafting and applying his own makeup designs. Some of Tuttle’s finest achievements on the series include a life-like facial cast of Anne Francis for the first season episode “The After Hours,” in which Francis’ character reverts to a mannequin state. Tuttle transformed Kevin McCarthy into a withering pile of ancient dust for “Long Live Walter Jameson,” a first season episode about an immortal man who is murdered after centuries of existence. Tuttle achieved the initial stages of the effect by a process of color makeup application with corresponding color filters placed over the camera lens. As the color filters were removed, the makeup became visible, giving the impression of a transformation. This technique for black-and-white film was most memorably used by Paramount Studios makeup artist Wally Westmore to transform Fredric March into Mr. Hyde for director Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 version of Dr. Jeyll and Mr. Hyde.
Tuttle's designs for "Eye of the Beholder"
Tuttle’s greatest innovation was casting life masks of actors and actresses in order to craft fitting appliances without the necessity of having the actor or actress present. Tuttle utilized this for the deep aging process on Kevin McCarthy, as well as for the idiosyncratic makeup designs (exemplified by large, twisted lips, pig-like noses, and a pronounced shelf of bone above the eyes) for Twilight Zone episodes ranging from “The Eye of the Beholder,” in which Tuttle transformed a hospital staff into swine-like visages with forehead and nose appliances, to “The Dummy,” in which Tuttle was tasked with sculpting a ventriloquist dummy to resemble actor Cliff Robertson as well as apply a dummy-like makeup design to actor George Murdock. Tuttle crafted the face of the famous “thing on the wing of the airplane” which terrorized William Shatner in the fifth season episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” as well as the grotesque masquerade makeup for Rod Serling’s last great episode of the series, “The Masks.” 
Tuttle also displayed his ability for traditional stage makeup with the third season episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” which required makeups for a traditional clown and hobo among others archetypal characters. Even when Tuttle’s makeup design was not particularly effective, such as in the second season’s “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,” he is capable of producing an iconic image, in this case a man with a third eye in the center of his forehead. This effect was initially to be achieved by optical means, projecting the eye onto the head of the actor, only to be abandoned as unfeasible at the last minute, forcing Tuttle to scramble to create a workable application.
Tuttle's design for the Morlocks in George Pal's "The Time Machine"
After the end of the series, Tuttle produced memorable makeup effects for director/producer George Pal at MGM in the 1960s, beginning with The Time Machine (1960) on to The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), the latter for which he became the first makeup artist to win an Academy Award, given to Tuttle as a Special Achievement Award 17 years before Achievement in Makeup became a regularly given award in 1981.
After vacating his position as head of makeup at MGM in 1969, Tuttle concentrated on teaching and occasional, but memorable, freelance film and television work. He created the makeup effects for the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein in 1974 as well as contributing makeup to the futuristic design of Logan’s Run in 1976. Tuttle’s last great work was as supervisor of special makeup effects for director Brian de Palma on The Fury in 1978, for which he shared a Saturn Award with Rick Baker. Tuttle’s last film work was for Zorro: The Gay Blade in 1981 for Twentieth Century Fox and director Peter Medak.
In 1989, Tuttle established his own makeup company, Custom Color Cosmetics, and was the subject of a 1968 MGM documentary short titled King of the Duplicators, in which he discusses his techniques alongside frequent collaborator Charles Schram. Tuttle died at his home in Pacific Palisades on July 27, 2007, age 95.
Dick Smith with his creations
In the spring of 1961, as William Tuttle was creating memorable makeups for The Twilight Zone, celebrated film and television producer and talk show host David Susskind was tasked with developing a summer replacement series for CBS. Jackie Gleason’s triumphant return to television on January 20th of that year resulted in the debacle that was You’re in the Picture, a ludicrous game show so poorly received it lasted but a single episode before Gleason returned the following week to publicly apologize for insulting the intelligence of the television audience.
David Susskind, like Rod Serling, was committed to producing intellectually engaging material for the young medium. Two years before, in the formative year of 1959, which marked the beginning of both Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond and The Twilight Zone, NBC passed on Susskind’s idea for a series of macabre half-hour plays, partially due to the unreliability of an anthology series to garner a dedicated viewership. The idea stayed with Susskind, however, and he pitched the idea to CBS as a possible replacement for the Gleason show. CBS, in a more receptive position, gave Susskind the green light and a hurried production began in New York on the series Susskind titled ‘Way Out.
Susskind hired Roald Dahl to host the program as well as provide the script for the premier episode. At the time, Dahl was best known for his ghoulish short stories published in the pages of The New Yorker, a half-dozen of which had been adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents during the three years prior. Dahl’s stories contained a humorously macabre tone in accordance to that which Susskind desired for ‘Way Out. It quickly became apparent to Susskind and his production team that the nature of the show required a talented makeup artist to achieve the bizarre effects indicated by several of the scripts for the series. Susskind recruited a makeup artist he’d previously worked with at NBC named Dick Smith.
Smith was a native New Yorker, born in Larchmont in 1922, and initially set out on a path in dentistry. He was admittedly not a traditionally talented visual artist but was inspired to try his hand at makeup from the discovery in his late teen years of Ivard Strauss’ 1936 book Paint, Powder and Make-up: The Art of Theater Makeup from the Amateur and Class Room Viewpoint. Several attempts failed to land him a position at a Hollywood studio so Smith began submitting his work to the emerging arena of television networks, eventually landing a position at NBC in 1945.
By 1961 and the beginning of production on ‘Way Out, Smith had mastered a technique for the sectional application of prosthetics to allow an actor greater freedom of facial expression. Despite the participation of Susskind, Dahl, and a host of talented stage and television actors, ‘Way Out is most often remembered today for Smith’s shocking makeup effects.
‘Way Out lasted a mere 14 episodes from late March to the middle of July, 1961, where it directly preceded The Twilight Zone, airing at 9:00 P.M. EST on Friday nights. Despite such brevity, the series provided enough material to showcase Smith’s prodigious talent for makeup effects.
Dick Smith erases half of Barry Morse's face
His most renowned achievement on the series was for the penultimate episode, “Soft Focus,” which concerned a photographer who discovers a chemical which possesses the astonishing ability to alter the appearance of the person in a photograph. The episode ends on a ghastly note when the chemical spills across an image of the photographer, erasing half of his face. Smith used a makeup base to blend a large, flexible appliance over the left side of actor Barry Morse’s face, producing a convincing illusion of erasure.
Smith's Quasimodo makeup on Martin Brooks
The seventh episode, “False Face,” written by cult film director Larry Cohen, draws particular attention to the art of film and stage makeup. It concerns an arrogant actor (Alfred Ryder) who uses a hideously deformed man (Martin Brooks) to model his stage makeup for the role of Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. After his performance, the actor is horrified to discover that he cannot remove the makeup, which has somehow fused with his own flesh. For the episode, Smith admirably recreated Lon Chaney’s makeup design from Universal’s 1923 historical epic The Hunchback of Notre Dame on both Ryder and Brooks, adding more defined elements (exaggerated lips and nose) made possible by the advancement in prosthetics, allowing for several hideous close angle shots.
Smith's makeup on Alfred Ryder
For the claustrophobically frightening eighth episode, “Dissolve to Black,” Smith created a believable pallor of death across the faces of several actors using heavy black around the eyes and a withered, textured composition on the skin. “Side Show” is the memorably chilling twelfth episode which required Smith to craft a horrifying old hag makeup using a fright wig and appliances to exaggerate the nose and lower portion of the face while creating a wrinkled, aged appearance which would become a trademark of his skill set. Smith completed the effect by adding stitching where the head had been sewn to a beautiful body.
Smith's aging makeup on Jonathan Frid for Dark Shadows
Smith would win an Emmy Award in 1967 for transforming Hal Holbrook into Mark Twain for Mark Twain Tonight! on CBS and would continue to apply his skills to television productions long after he established a successful career in feature films. He worked on Dan Curtis’ Dark Shadows series and feature films, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971), and also served as makeup effects consultant on the syndicated horror anthology series Monsters (1988-1991) and the television miniseries Stephen King’s Golden Years (1991).
Though Smith, working with Ben Nye, then head of the makeup department at 20th Century Fox, created the makeup effects for 1959’s The Alligator People, starring Beverly Garland and Lon, Chaney, Jr., his first significant film work was again with producer David Susskind, for Columbia’s production of Rod Serling’s Emmy Award-winning Playhouse 90 drama Requiem for a Heavyweight in 1962, starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, and Mickey Rooney.
Once given the production values of a feature film, Smith would create some of the most enduring special makeup effects in the history of the medium. In 1970, he aged a thirty-two year old Dustin Hoffman into a 121 year old man in Arthur Penn’s Little Big Man. With a custom dental insert, he gave Marlon Brando the sagging jowls of an aged mafia don in Francis Coppola’s The Godfather in 1972. A career watershed arrived in 1973 with The Exorcist, from director William Fiedkin and author William Peter Blatty. Smith, assisted by a young Rick Baker, turned cherubic Linda Blair into the gaunt, lacerated figure of a demon-possessed girl and should have been given an Academy Award for the astonishing results.
The film brought Smith an array of offers to create makeup effects for technically challenging productions in the horror and science fiction genres. In 1980, he crafted the most effective full-body prosthetic suit since 1954’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon to affect William Hurt’s physiological changes in Altered States, creating a unique situation a year later when two of Smith’s films fostered a tie for the Saturn Award for makeup effects as voters could not decide between awarding his work on Altered States or his work on David Cronenberg’s Scanners, the latter for which he served as makeup effects consultant, working with future Academy Award winners Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis. Four years earlier, Smith was recruited by Martin Scorsese to fit Robert De Niro with a menacing Mohawk hairstyle and compose the blood-splattered conclusion to Taxi Driver.
Smith’s highly accomplished makeup effects appeared in The Sentinel (1977), Ghost Story (1981), and The Hunger (1983) before garnering an Academy Award, with Paul LeBlanc, for his work aging F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri in Milos Forman’s 1984 Best Picture winner Amadeus. Smith would be honored with a special ceremony, “A Tribute to Dick Smith: The Godfather of Special Makeup Effects,” hosted by Rick Baker, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2009 before being awarded a second Academy Award in 2012 in recognition of his astonishing career and his remarkable influence on the makeup effects industry.
Smith was always willing to teach artists interested in the industry and freely divulged the many secrets of his methods, something which was highly unusual at the time. Smith’s final film work was designing the makeup effects for House on Haunted Hill in 1999, after which he concentrated on Dick Smith Special FX Makeup Training, a series of courses for developing up-and-coming special effects artists. He was the subject of Scott Essman’s 1998 documentary short A Tribute to Dick Smith and died in Los Angeles on July 30, 2014, age 92.                
John Chambers with his ape creations
On Monday, October 14, 1963, at 7:30 PM, EST, television audiences with an interest in science fiction could have turned to the ABC Network and viewed one of the finest special makeup effects created for a television series to that point. The series was The Outer Limits and the episode, “The Sixth Finger,” sees an angry young man (David McCallum) rapidly change, physically and mentally, into a highly evolved, and highly dangerous, human through the experimentation of a well-meaning scientist (Edward Mulhare). The makeup was designed and applied by special makeup effects artist John Chambers and included a series of appliances laid in increment stages over the face of David McCallum, culminating in a full-head appliance to complete the transformation.
       The Outer Limits was the brainchild of precocious playwright Leslie Stevens (he sold a play to Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre while still a teenager) who aimed to create a science fiction program which would
elicit awe in the viewing audience. This, of course, precluded the idea of a series light on special effects. Stevens placed Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, in charge of production and positioned himself as Executive Producer and frequent contributor.   
Chamber's makeup for "The Sixth Finger"
The show was a demanding production for a special effects artist for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the quick production schedule (one episode every seven days), the relatively low budgets, or the fact that the show featured an intricate creature design in nearly every episode of the first season.
The heavy lifting in the special effects department was accomplished by Project Unlimited, a freelance company established in 1957 by technicians Gene Warren, Wah Chang, and Tim Baar, designed to handle a multitude of special effects procedures for film and television productions. 
Chamber's makeup for "The Man Who Was Never Born"
The members of Project Unlimited were skilled designers and sculptors who created the numerous creatures for the series, beginning with the pilot episode’s irradiated alien, “The Galaxy Being,” and continuing on to such classic designs as Robert Culp’s full-body transformation into the Thetan alien in “The Architects of Fear” and the ghastly alien ants with human faces in “The Zanti Misfits.”
John Chambers was brought on board for episodes which required more intricate makeup effects as well as for simpler applications such as the manipulation of the eyes, nose, or chin of an actor. Once he began to find steady work in feature films in the 1960s, Chambers became particularly well-known for his ability to change or exaggerate a feature of an actor’s face or hands, undoubtedly resulting from earlier time spent in government service crafting dental and body prosthetics.
Like William Tuttle, Chambers used life masks to create molds in order to insure makeup appliances not only fit the unique contours of an actor’s face but also allowed the actor to be recognized beneath the makeup. Chambers worked on The Outer Limits with frequent collaborator Fred Phillips, who served as makeup supervisor for the series, and had a hand in a number of first season episodes, most notably “The Hundred Days of the Dragon” in which the face of an Asian spy is physically manipulated to resemble a murdered presidential candidate, and “The Man Who Was Never Born,” which sees Martin Landau changed into a malformed human from a bleak future Earth.
John Chambers was born in Chicago in 1922 and became interested in art at a young age, finding early work as a commercial artist and jewelry designer before serving in the Army first as a dental technician and later crafting prosthetics to repair the faces and bodies of wounded veterans. Chambers decided to apply his artistic skills in the entertainment industry, sensing an opportunity when his work with wounded veterans became a point of emotional stress.
In 1953, Chambers landed a position creating makeup for NBC’s live television programs. By 1959, Chambers had moved into regular feature film work under Bud Westmore at NBC’s parent company, Universal Studios.
Chambers soon became dissatisfied with the burdens inherent in being a contract artist for either a network or a studio and retrofitted a garage adjacent to his Burbank, California home to function as a freelance makeup laboratory. He remained firmly entrenched in the television industry, however, since by the early 1960s he had begun to receive positive recognition for his makeup effects on a number of programs. He created ghoulish makeups for Boris Karloff’s horror anthology series Thriller (1960-1962), working alongside longtime NBC makeup artist Jack Barron, who himself handled makeup duties for Alfred Hitchcock on both the director’s television series and films (Psycho (1960), Marine (1964) and Torn Curtain (1966)) and would later assist Chambers with the makeup effects on the Planet of the Apes films. For Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek (1966-1969), again working with makeup supervisor Fred Phillips, Chambers created numerous bizarre alien makeup effects as well as famously designing Mr. Spock’s pointed ears.
It was Chambers’ work creating disguises for the espionage television series Mission: Impossible (1966-1973) and I Spy (1965-1968) that drew the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency, who recruited Chambers in the early 1970s, along with makeup artists Tom Burman (who became a frequent collaborator) and Michael Westmore, to create disguises for government field agents. The declassification of CIA documents in 1997 revealed Chambers to be a crucial part of a 1979 operation that successfully freed six American diplomats during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Chambers was portrayed by actor John Goodman in Ben Affleck’s Academy Award winning 2012 film about the operation, Argo.
Chambers continued to stay busy with television projects, working with Ben Nye on Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space (1965-1968) for CBS, and with Bud Westmore on Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (1969-1973) for NBC. It was Nye, then head of makeup for 20th Century Fox, who approached Chambers about working on a project adapting Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel Planet of the Apes.
The resultant 1968 film marked a significant turning point not only in the career of John Chambers but in the area of special makeup effects as an industry. Chambers, who spent much of preproduction time on the film studying primates at the Los Angeles Zoo, would use life masks of the principle actors to craft pliable prosthetic appliances which would allow the actors an impressive range of facial movement beneath the heavy ape makeups. Chambers supervised nearly sixty makeup artists for the film, many of whom were non-union workers, in an effort to battle time and the required workload.
Many of the artists working under Chambers on the film were recruited from the Don Post Studios, a California-based producer of high quality masks and props for commercial consumption as well as for the entertainment industry. Chambers had previously assisted at the studio on mask designs pertaining to apes and primitive man. Noted mask designer Verne Langdon was hired to create the realistic ape masks worn by the many background performers. Langdon, who followed career paths ranging from professional wrestler to recording artist, became a legend among collectible masks hobbyists for his revolutionary work with sculptors Pat Newman and Ellis Burman (father of makeup artists Ellis Burman, Jr. and Tom Burman) at the Don Post Studios in the 1960s, crafting highly detailed masks based on famous monsters from film and television, as well as his own unique designs. Langdon, Newman, and the Burman brothers all used the time spent on Planet of the Apes as a springboard into regular work in the film and television industries.
For his work on Planet of the Apes, Chambers was given a Special Achievement Academy Award at the 41st Ceremonies in 1969. Chambers and William Tuttle were the only two makeup artists to receive such an award before 1981, when the award became standard.
Though Planet of the Apes was unquestionably the pinnacle of his career, Chambers continued to create impressive makeup effects in the years following. He worked with director Brian De Palma on the 1974 film Phantom of the Paradise and again worked with artist Tom Burman to create the beast-men in the 1977 film version of The Island of Dr. Moreau.
His final television work was for the short-lived series Beyond Westworld in 1980. He finished his film career on two high notes, however, by creating makeup effects on John Carpenter’s Halloween II (1981) and prosthetics for Ridley Scott’s future-noir Blade Runner a year later, after which Chambers quietly retired.
He is the subject of Scott Essman’s 1998 documentary short A Tribute to John Chambers and died in hospital on August 25, 2001, age 78.
It stands to reason that without the early television work of Tuttle, Smith, and Chambers, as well as the film work which followed, the special makeup effects industry would have evolved in a very different, and likely less interesting, way. To simply take an account of the young artists that each man took the time to mentor and teach would alone define the successive progression of the industry and continues to stand as a defining monument to three pioneering titans of special makeup effects.  


Grateful acknowledgement is given to the following for providing information used in the text:
Bergan, Ronald. “William Tuttle: Eminent Hollywood Makeup Artist Who Worked With the Glamorous and Great,” The Guardian, 23 August 2007.
Essman, Scott. “John Chambers: Maestro of Makeup,” Cinefex, issue 71, September 1997.
Fox, Margalit. “William J. Tuttle, Master Makeup Man, Dies at 95,” New York Times, 4 August 2007.
Gilbey, Ryan. “Dick Smith: TV and Film Makeup Artist Who Transformed Hollywood Idols into Misshapen Grotesques,” The Guardian, 5 August 2014.
Nelson, Valerie J. “William J. Tuttle, 95; Pioneering Film Makeup Artist Was First to Get an Oscar,” Los Angeles Times, 3 August 2007.
Nelson, Valerie J. “Dick Smith Dies at 92; ‘Exorcist’ Makeup Man Won Oscar for ‘Amadeus’,” Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2014.
Yardley, William. “Disc Smith, Oscar-Winning Makeup Artist, Dies at 92,” New York Times, 1 August 2014.

Watch William Tuttle in “King of the Duplicators” here.