In the Summer of 1952, RKO reissued this film as a double feature with King Kong (1933). RKO "cashed in", as young theatergoers, due to this film's title, were expecting to see a second "creature" film.
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There are several unidentified musical pieces used during the film. However, the unusual birthday song sung a capella to Consuela is called "Las Mananitas"; it also turns up in Subida al Cielo/Mexican Busride.
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This film's earliest documented telecast took place in Los Angeles Sunday 9 June 1956 on KHJ (Channel 9); it first aired in Altoona Saturday 21 July 1956 on WFBG (Channel 10), in San Francisco Monday 27 August 1956 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Philadelphia Friday 7 September 1956 on WFIL (Channel 6), and in New York City Saturday 29 September 1956 on WOR (channel 9).
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Breaking from their formula of having film historian Gregory Menk do commentary on the dvd releases of Lewtons films, Exorcist director William Friedkin does the commentary on the 2005 dvd release
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Film debut of Jacqueline deWit in an uncredited role.
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One of acclaimed director William Friedkins favorite movies.
"I have certain insights to the film, certain thoughts and ideas about it," William Friedkin says while adding that they may differ with what other viewers see and think about the movie. He hopes listeners are provoked into thinking about the movie the way it "has been provoking me consciously and unconsciously for about forty-five years now."
The film may be set in a small New Mexico town, but it was clearly shot on the RKO studio lot.
William Friedkin says the film's "much deeper than the B-picture" that it was perhaps intended to be. His immediate example is the ball tumbling atop the fountain of water as the film later suggests that our lives are like that ball in the lack of control over our own existence.
Clo-Clo, played by Margo is marked by the little boy with the flashlight. That is an interesting psychological touch that Lewton and Tourneur often used. The light on her legs marks her, in a way, as fate would mark a character. And she's marked for death.
"The film is actually many, many films in one," says Friedkin, adding that it's horror, it's a mystery/thriller, and it's a tale about fate.
The studio heads weren't fans of the film as they couldn't quite grasp its intent or structure.
William Friedkin credits the film as being an inspiration towards Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) in how it follows characters we believe to be the leads only to leave them behind for long stretches as we shift to other characters instead. "They're simply pawns in a greater structure that was at the time completely unpredictable and therefore suspenseful."
The young woman who's seen in the house with the mother and little boy playing shadow puppets leaves "on a strange journey that will lead to what I believe is one of the greatest horror sequences ever filmed." Friedkins referring to her death on the other side of the door as her mother and brother try desperately to open it only to watch as blood pools at their feet.
Lewton was a master of invoking terror without actually showing anything truly horrifying or graphic, and "that's something that we as filmmakers have lost. We now feel we have to show everything. Every plunge of the knife, every moment of pain and agony that the victims have to go through, that's what you see in horror films today. People cut up by hacksaws, people ripped apart at the hands of alien creatures." Friedkin says the things we don't see live longer in our nightmares.
"What are the elements of a Lewton/Tourneur collaboration that makes them great, that makes them last?" The most important to Friedkin is their application and manipulation of expectations.
Tourneur believed that, in wartime, moviegoers want to be scared by the unreal.
William Friedkin used to walk to and from school as a child in Chicago, and he recalls passing by one house every day that was the scene of a horrific murder "the murder of young girl called Suzanne Degnan whose body parts were found all over the lawn and in the gutter and in the street next to where she lived. I walked past that house every day for four years feeling like I was in a Val Lewton movie."
Friedkin suggests the victims in this film "seem to echo details of Lewton's unconscious or psychological autobiography." Each is let down by an absent father or father figure, and Lewton himself was without a father as a child. Clo-Clo's fate is sealed after the old man at the club, a man who's father to another woman but who treats Clo-Clo even briefly as if she was his own, gives her money -- she makes it home safe but realizes she dropped it in the street and heads back out to find it, thus meeting her end.
Lewton's production team at RKO were given the titles in advance by the studio heads, and then he and his team were responsible for finding a story and making a movie around that title.
Everyone in town shares some degree of guilt for the deaths, from Jerry bringing the leopard into civilized society to Clo-Clo scaring the leopard, and from the parents who ignored their children to the inadvertent bystanders. "I think this was Lewton's idea that there's a collective guilt in society, that society itself in its shortcomings, in its lack of real compassion for our fellow human beings, is often responsible for their tragic ends."
Everyone in town shares some degree of guilt for the deaths, from Jerry bringing the leopard into civilized society to Clo-Clo scaring the leopard, and from the parents who ignored their children to the inadvertent bystanders. "I think this was Lewton's idea that there's a collective guilt in society, that society itself in its shortcomings, in its lack of real compassion for our fellow human beings, is often responsible for their tragic ends." Friedkin added.