She Didn’t Really Hate Boris Karloff

Boris KarloffOn this day in 1859, famed outlaw Billy the Kid was born. What I find interesting about him is that he was an attractive young man. And I think this is why he is alternately described as dashing and despicable. The biggest prejudice among humans is against the ugly and for the beautiful. The best is always assumed about attractive people. As a result, I think that Billy the Kid was a psychopath. Of course there are other issues. I don’t think a life a crime is natural even for psychopaths. We have a screwed up society that actively generates desperation and then sits back and enjoys the feeling of superiority when desperate people behave badly.

We have met the enemy and he is us.

We have met the enemy and he is us

The great screenwriter Robert Towne is 79 today. He is known in Hollywood as a “script doctor.” These are the guys who fix crappy scripts that other people have written. Or at least, that’s the theory. In practice, I’m sure that most scripts are perfectly fine. I always know there is trouble ahead when a film has too many screenwriters. It is usually an indication that the director really didn’t know what he was doing and so had many (mostly uncredited) writers hack away at it. But Towne also writes his own original scripts. The most important of these was Chinatown.

Other birthdays: Russian impressionist Konstantin Korovin (1861); Harpo Marx (1888); comedian Steve Landesberg (1936); and the president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro (51).

The day, however, belongs to the great actor Boris Karloff who was born on this day in 1887. He is best known for his performance as Frankenstein, which he performed with great depth. (You really should own Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection.) I tend to remember him for later B films like The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors. But his greatest performance, for me, is in The Mummy. Still, I have to present the following scene from Bride of Frankenstein and not just because I have such a big crush on Elsa Lanchester. The monster acts the way all men do when women spurn them. And what is wrong with him in the end? He’s a sweet guy, “She hate me—like others”:

Happy birthday Boris Karloff!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “She Didn’t Really Hate Boris Karloff

  1. My understanding is that most "script doctors" aren’t brought in to mangle somebody else’s work. They’re used after eight screenwriters have already mangled each other’s work, and someone has to make sense of the carnage plus hopefully add a joke or two. Often JUST add a joke or two. Towne’s done it, Carrie Fisher’s done it, also Whedon and Tarantino.

    Actually, "script doctor" sounds like a less frustrating job than trying to get things you passionately believe in made, only to go through years of development hell and producers saying "I’d like to bring in a fresh take on this . . ."

  2. @JMF – It depends. I don’t think the title actually means anything all that specific. Certainly Towne is generally thought to come in and apply some structure to the mess. People hired to punch up a script are not usually referred to as script doctors. That’s just specialization. Comedy writers are generally used for that.

    I’ve worked as a book doctor. It is a thankless job. And really boring.

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