Sunday, 21 August 2011

Jimmy Sangster, 1927-2011

The Curse of Frankenstein. Dracula. The Mummy. The Brides of Dracula. The Hellfire Club. Those are just some of the films Jimmy Sangster wrote the screenplays for, and that Hammer brought to the big screen. Sangster also wrote for television, including episodes of 1970s detective shows Ironside and Banacek, and one episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

Even if he'd only written the first of the films I've listed, Sangster would have earned his place in film history, because those late 1950s movies saved Hammer and helped turn it into one of the great successes of the British film industry. Of course, they had the magic ingredients of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in front of the camera and Terence Fisher directing, but nonetheless Sangster's scripts breathed new life into classic monsters. He created a new, dandified Baron Frankenstein, and a Professor Van Helsing who was less bumbling old library beetle, more cool-headed intellectual, than those who had gone before.

I've been away, which is why this post has only just gone up, but I definitely recommend The Curse of Frankenstein if you're short of a film to watch this weekend.

Note: The hearse is one used in the Hammer film Dracula Has Risen From the Grave – not one of Sangster's films, but one that probably wouldn't have been made without his contribution to Hammer.

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