Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Leigh Brackett was a talent of many parts.  As a writer she was the queen of planetary adventure, a mentor of Ray Bradbury, a Spur Award-winning western author, a ghost for actor George Sanders, creator of nuanced classic science fiction, and exemplar of the hard-boiled mystery.  As a screenwriter she wrote the 1946 classic The Big Sleep (with William Faulkner [!] and Jules Furthman), as well as writing (or co-writing) Rio Bravo (and its red-headed stepchild Rio Lobo), Hatari, The Long Goodbye, and The Empire Strikes Back, among others.

Brackett's first film was The Vampire's Ghost, co-written with veteran pulpster and B-movie scripter John K. Butler, from a story by Brackett.  

Webb Fallon runs a bar in a backwater port in the small African county.  Unknown to the natives, Fallon is a world-weary 400-year-old vampire.  Four hundred years of living alone can have a toll on a person and Fallon is seeking a bride.  And who better than young Julie Vance to add a bit of eye candy to this vampire/voodoo mashup?

The Vampire's Ghost was a low-budget Republic flick, complete with painted backdrops, African natives with cafe au lait-colored skin. and an Africa that strangely looks like California.  But this one rises far above the crowd with its innovative touches, unusual plot, and great acting.  John Abbott (The Jungle Book, Gigi, Mrs. Miniver) plays Fallon, the evil and somehow sypathetic vampire.  The lovely Peggy Stewart (The Tiger Woman, Son of Zorro, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw -- and the former wife of Don "Red" Barry) is the lovely Julie Vance, with Emmett Vogan (San Quentin, The Mummy's Ghost, The Mummy's Tomb) playing her father.  Also in the cast were Charles Gordon as the stalwart boyfriend, oft-time western "heavy" Roy Barcroft as the missionary priest, Sexy blonde singer/dancer/pin-up girl (and future Mrs. Roy Huggins) Adele Mara does a dance designed to stir teen-age libidos.

An unsung gem and a great start to Brackett's film career.


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