Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Short Film: Final Curtain (USA, 1957)

OK, a wasted life  prides (?) itself as being a blog "about obscure, trashy, fun, bad and fabulous films". That's why we are finally going to present a truly obscure and bad and fun in its own way (and questionable, at best, when it comes to trashy and fabulous) short film by everyone favourite (and tragic) auteur of badness, the great Edward D. Wood, Jr (10 Oct 1924 – 10 Dec 1978). And no, the short we want to look at is not one of the many porn loops he worked on in his alcohol-fueled twilight days.
What we have here is a 20-odd-minute-long short film written and directed by Wood entitled Final Curtain that he made as the pilot episode for an anthology TV series he hoped to sell, Portraits in Terror and/or Journeys into Terror. (Different sources give different names.) Final Curtain is, of course, all Ed Wood in every way and anything but a viable commercial pilot episode, neither now or back in the "innocent" Eisenhower years. It went nowhere, of course. So Wood reused parts of it in his later feature film, Night of the Ghouls (1959 / a trailer / full movie).

Like so much of Wood's production, the short was long thought lost, but then Jason Insalaco and Jonathan Harris found and restored the short and premiered it at Slamdancein in Park City, Utah, on January 23, 2012. (Insalaco is related to an Ed Wood regular, actor Paul Marco [10 June 1927 – 14 May 2006], and a dedicated Wood archivist.) Supposedly a second episode was also filmed entitled The Night the Banshee Cried, but if so, the film is still lost.
Despite the hyperbolic narration read by Dudley "Eros" Manlove (11 June 1914 – 17 April 1996), of the decidedly interesting C-film The Creation of the Humanoids (1962 / trailer/ full movie) & Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959 / trailer / full movie) nothing much happens in Final Curtain. It is however, surprisingly well shot — but then, Wood also seems to be aiming more for mood than action (a shame that the moody effectiveness of the almost expressionistic cinematography wasn't matched in the voiceover). But as for action, well, there ain't any: basically, an unnamed actor (Duke Moore, [15 July 1913 – 16 Nov 1976], "an American actor who has the distinction of spending his entire on-screen career in productions by Ed Wood") wanders around a theatre after the last performance of his play pontificating, eventually meets a living mannequin (Jenny Stevens) and then well, goes to bed (sorta)...

"The best Ed Wood comes dangerously close to the world of experimental film artists of the era, such as Kenneth Anger and Man Ray," film historian Rob Craig told the New York Times in 2012. "His best films are abstract, surreal and highly symbolic…what he created was nothing short of magical — and utterly unique." 
Los Angeles Magazine, 2015

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