You Must Remember This #3: Happy 110th Birthday, Val Lewton! / by Karina Longworth


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A Very Special Halloween Episode! The writer-producer Val Lewton produced and ghost-wrote 11 films in just three years as head of the horror unit at RKO, many of which — Cat PeopleI Walked With A ZombieThe Curse of the Cat People,The Body Snatcher — were huge hits, helping to keep the troubled studio afloat in the early 1940s, and becoming influential genre film classics. Lewton died super young, but he crammed an enormous amount of life into his 46 years. Before establishing his unique style of horror at RKO, he was a publicist and a terrible journalist; he published at least a dozen books (including at least two porno novels, one of which he was very proud of), and through his career-making apprenticeship with David O. Selznick, collaborated with Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, and countless other classical Hollywood luminaries. Today — which would have been Lewton’s 110th birthday, if not for his untimely death in 1951 — we take a look back at his life and career, break down his groundbreaking aesthetic, and ask and answer an incredibly reductive question: did Hollywood kill Val Lewton?

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Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career, by Edmund G. Bansak

Icons of Grief, by Alexander Nemerov

Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror, by Joel E. Siegel


Excerpts from the scores of Cat PeopleI Walked with a ZombieBedlamThe Body Snatcher and The Seventh Victim, performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

The Bride of Frankenstein theme, performed by the Cincinatti Pops Orchestra

"Cat People (Putting out fire)" by David Bowie

Film clips:

Cat People

I Walked With a Zombie


The Seventh Victim