Though few in number (only two screenings), the preternatural films showing at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on Saturday more than make up for the oversight with quality. In fact, they more than merit their inclusion on a day that will see Peter O’Toole finally make his mark on Hollywood’s walk of fame with a hand and footprint ceremony as well as screenings ranging from Gaslight to the original Parent Trap to The Outlaw Josey Wells to Shaft.
What two preternatural films could hold their own and share the same air as Citizen Kane and La Dolce Vita (which we have to thank for the term paparazzi)? Cabin in the Sky is a film few will have heard of. The other is as synonymous with preternatural films and horror as its name The Mummy.
If you haven’t heard of 1943’s Cabin in the Sky you aren’t exactly alone. It was only the fourth film with an entirely African-American cast released by a major Hollywood studio and the segregated conditions of the South at the time limited distribution. Yet this tale of a murdered gambler who is offered a second chance at life thanks to the earnest prayers of his wife has a cast of legendary proportions. Leading lady Lena Horne was the first black woman presented onscreen as a sex symbol (and boy, is she sexy, even today). She plays opposite Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as the gambling husband trying to reform as well as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Did we mention this was a morality play disguised as a musical? The screening begins at Noon at the Chinese Cineplex 3.
The Mummy, in contrast, is one of the best known preternatural films ever made. In 1932 acclaimed Hollywood makeup artist Jack Pierce and horror legend Boris Karloff introduced a new movie monster to the world. He has never left. Maybe it is the perennial amazement and popularity of the treasures entombed with the boy-pharoh know as King Tut that keeps Imhotep going. Or maybe it was the introduction of such cinematic tools as the dolly and other special effects techniques that are still used today that secure a place in the collective imagination of the audience. Whatever the reason, this is one of the best preternatural films ever made and the first American film from the legendary Karl Freund with some help from screenwriter John Balderston (he had adapted Dracula for the silver screen in 1931). Actor Ron Perlman will be attending the midnight screening of this “poetry of horror” aptly taking place at the Egyptian Theatre.
For more about the classic preternatural films already featured at the 2011 and 2010 TCM check out: