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Hot Dead Guy

Posted by Dirck on 29 October, 2012

I lift a notion from the remarkable Madame Weebles today (while she’s distracted by the Great Storm Confluence of The Year 12).  She’s been showcasing hunks, smolderers and diverse other men of interest who have shuffled off this mortal coil.  I’m going to add a chap she’s not yet looked at:

When he was younger, he was said to make women swoon with the power of his eyes. Honest.

Conrad Veidt, the man who was almost Dracula and the man who made The Joker, and a guy who you probably should appreciate.

I think I hear some confused contradiction.  “What’s this ‘made The Joker’ stuff?  Wasn’t that, depending on which retelling one considers, Batman’s doing?”  I grant this stance, but if we step outside the fiction for a moment, we will find that Bob Kane was behind both of them, and he’s occasionally admitted that The Joker’s genesis came from one of Veidt’s films from his first round of work in Hollywood towards the end of the silent era.  Here, have a look, decide for yourself.

Veidt as “Gwynplaine”, melodramatic protagonist

The Joker, comic book antagonist

“OK, fine.  ‘Almost Dracula’?”  Well, here’s one of life’s ironies.  Lon Chaney, the most unrecognizable man in Hollywood, was on the hot seat for the title tole in the 1931 Tod Browning film.  Chaney, though, went and died in 1930, something which even his considerable talent couldn’t work around.  Who, the studio pondered, might fit?  Veidt had a long history of playing in horror (a genre that was almost specifically German in the 1920s), and was asked.  He declined, as it was to be a talkie, and he feared his imperfect mastery of English would hinder the film’s popularity.  The way was thus opened for Bela Lugosi to learn the lines phonetically.

That, however, is sort of aside the point of why he should be appreciated, as he spent more or less the last ten years of his life working against the Nazis.  That does indeed mean that he started in 1933; he was married to a Jewish woman, and thus had a pretty firm grip on the way the new regime in Germany was headed from the beginning.  Most of the money he didn’t need to live on went to either a pro-refugee or anti-Nazi effort, and once the war got underway, he more or less typecast himself as Villainous Nazi Officer in an effort to get the movie-going public into the habit of really hating those guys.

The picture above, by the way, is in my house.  It was my wife’s primary birthday present, the thing I did this past weekend I didn’t mention on Friday.  She has a big fat necro-crush on the chap, which I can live with and even encourage as he and I are unlikely to come to blows.  I am thus bragging a little at having bought my wife a very nice present as a central motive for posting like this; the fact that the majority of Veidt’s output is properly Hallowe’eny is a mere side benefit.

Oh, one last thing.  He died while golfing.  If any more proof of golf’s wicked nature were needed, I can’t think of it.

Today’s pen: Parker 180
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis (the same colour as my toes; turn up the heat, Regular Job!)

6 Responses to “Hot Dead Guy”

  1. Wow, he WAS a looker, wasn’t he?? I guess Mr. Veidt always flew under my radar. Now I can see why your wife has a necro-crush (I LOVE that phrase) on him. Big time. And thanks for the shoutout!

    • I was meaning to comment upon his absence on your page, but the timing of the birthday (“mustn’t spoil surprise, even by weird sympathetic magic means!”) and the wretched giant weather event (“MW needs no extra distractions just now from one to distant to offer useful help”) stayed me. I’m glad to see you’re back in the web of the wide world!

  2. gary said

    Funny you should mention him: Casablanca was just on.

  3. […] the circularity, The Joker is rumoured to have been inspired by an unrelated movie protagonist, but I’ve already told you about that part, I […]

  4. […] that she gets nothing for her birthday. While I still have a lot of credit to ride on thanks to one surprise she has enjoyed, I’m not riding on that– I listen to stuff she says, and have bought a couple of things […]

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