Friday, August 19, 2011

Jimmy Sangster 1927-2011

Very saddened to hear the news of the death of Hammer screenwriter Jimmy Sangster. He wrote quite a number of Hammer movies, including one of my favorites, Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Thank you, sir.


Tallulah Morehead said...

I too am very saddened to read that Jimmy Sangster has passed. (Though I do not consider Dracula, Prince of Darkness among his better films. Awfully slow-moving, and Lee has no dialogue because he himself suggested cutting the Count's dialogue rather than deliver the handful of terrible lines he had in Sangster's script. Give me Horror of Dracula over POD any day.)

Though I never met him, apparently we did pass each other on the sidewalk once, only I had no idea then what he looked like back then. I read his fascinating memoir, Do You Want It Tuesday or Good?, and in it he mentioned that his wife had played a maid in a 1987Broadway production of Pygmalion with Peter O'Toole, Lionel Jeffries, Sir John Mills, and Amanda Plummer, and that he came by the theater at the end of the play every night to collect her and walk her back to their hotel.

Rats! I saw that production, which means Jimmy and his wife must have walked right past me when I was hanging out at the stage door after the show, getting autographs from O'Toole, Mills, and Jeffries.

His book is a wonderful read, and the tales of Bette Davis literally chasing him around her living room, trying to get into his pants, when he came out to California to discuss The Nanny or The Anniversary with her are hilarious. (What she saw in him, I can not imagine.)

And I think The Anniversary is my favorite of his films, an hilarious black comedy about a family that Freud would consider beyond help, with Bette Davis as the most-over-the-top domineering mother ever, with a designer eye-patch! (The eye-patch was see-through, so Bette didn't collide with stuff on the set.)

And his Horror of Frankenstein, which he directed as well as wrote, featured Dave "Darth Vader" Prowse as the hunkiest shirtless Frankenstein monster ever.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I just posted a lengthy blog obit on Jimmy, with lots of posters from his various movies. In going back over his memoirs to do the column I see that he singled out Dracula, Prince of Darkness as a movie of his which he had little use for, which is why his screenplay credit on it uses a pen name instead of his real name. He said the producer wrote the story, and he also used a pen name, so neither were proud of their writing. He said that he actually does not remember if he wrote dialogue for Lee that was all cut by Lee, as is always said, or if he wrote it as a mime role. And he mentioned that he never saw it.

I'm pretty much tied between Horror of Dracula and The Anniversary as my favorite Sangster movie.