Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

R.I.P: Jimmy Sangster

Jimmy Sangster [1927-2011] was a scriptwriter who helped put Hammer Films firmly on the '50s movie map. He became one of the driving, creative forces behind the legendary Hammer Studios, scripting many of their successes. In 1957 he wrote the sceenplay for THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN their first horror film shot in colour, followed by DRACULA and in 1959 THE MUMMY all starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, with good production values. My particular favourite was THE BRIDES OF DRACULA in 1960 - as per my previous post here, see Horror label.

Sangster said in an interview that he was given a free hand with the scripts - the only restriction was, regarding the FRANKENSTEIN movies, they could not use the bolts in the head, as those were copyrighted. Of course the films got worse as the series went on. He had a break from the Gothic with thrillers like A TASTE OF FEAR and THE NANNY for which they imported Bette Davis and some good English players: Jill Bennett, Wendy Craig, James Villiers. Sangster also produced and scripted the madly camp over the top film of a hit play THE ANNIVERSARY again teaming Davis with most of the cast of the play, including Sheila Hancock. I saw the original production of the play which had Mona Washbourne as the tyrant mother, Bette certainly made it her own, with that eyepatch!

He directed later Hammers like LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN. But by then audiences had tired of their cheap and cheerful production values. Terence Fisher usually directed those early popular Hammer titles. Sangster also wrote novels, and was married to that very lovely individual actress Mary Peach. His many years in the business are indicative of the talent of a prolific and much-respected screenwriter whose films continue to be enjoyed to this day.

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