Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Monogram: first with the stories that matter!


DOCTOR FINDS BUTLER STRANGLED!
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ANOTHER BRIDE DIES AT ALTAR!
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JAP DAGGER CLAIMS 2nd VICTIM!
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One of the most endearing features of Monogram horror films is their tendency to smooth over plot developments with the cunning deployment of newspaper headlines. Rare indeed is the one that does not at some point regale us with a selection of sensational headlines, hot off the press.
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Just what makes front page news on a Monogram paper is hard to define, however.
For instance, in Black Dragons the sensational news of the Jap dagger killer claiming his second victim shares the front page with
Council to Vote on Park Plan.
In a later edition,
LATEST VICTIMS LEFT ON EMBASSY STEPS: Police Spread Wide Net For Murderer
sits alongside
City Will Ask Bids For Operation of Motor Bus System.
In The Ape Man, the news of Dr Brewster's mysterious disappearance makes the big story, almost threatening to push
Job Survey Is Nearing Completion
on to page two.
But we know he has not disappeared and soon the papers are full of the chilling details of his simian murder spree:
Ape-like hair is only clew to mysterious murderer.
I can only assume that there has to be some precedent for spelling 'clue' in that eccentric fashion, but it's good to see that job survey is still nearing completion, and still making the front page right alongside it.
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In the Charlie Chan movie The Chinese Cat a series of front pages chart the failure of the police to solve a baffling murder. First:
THOMAS MANNING MYSTERIOUSLY SLAIN, then: MANNING MURDER BAFFLES POLICE, later: DA DROPS MANNING CASE.
As always, the paper (which claims to offer "all the news - International, national and local") offers a choice selection of similarly attention-grabbing stories alongside these scoops, such as
STATE BUREAUS MUST PAY RENT IN NEW OFFICES
and my particular favourite:
SPANISH SHIP FOUND HELPLESSLY ADRIFT.
(Where, for heaven's sake?)
But even better, the last two stories about the Manning mystery appear underneath the same stories both times, one of which concludes:
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Washing facilities carry away fine glacial silt, and screens and classifiers sort out three sizes of sand, later blended in proper proportions, and four sizes of gravel.
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They held the front page for this. Twice.
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Ask any Monogram fan what the studio's greatest ever newspaper headline is, however, and there's only one reply.
It's from The Corpse Vanishes, and the medley of banner headlines that come racing towards us, superimposed over shots of a hot printing press, detailing Lugosi's abduction of brides at the altar. One screams:
Another yells:
Then, in case you were wondering:
And there was me holding out for a reasonable explanation.

2 comments:

C.C. Baxter said...

This is quite possibly my favourite blog subject ever.

Matthew Coniam said...

Thanks, Mr Baxter!