The Curator of Schlock #294 by Jeff Shuster
Old movies are weird.
The Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights brand of cookies is the greatest packaged soft cookie the American chemical confectionary industry has ever produced. I don’t want to hear about Fig Newtons. Give me a break.
Pumpkin Delights taste like fall and Halloween and all that is right in the world. They are the only cookies I care about right now, and I can’t seem to find any in either chain of grocery stores in my neighborhood. The trials I have to go through just to enjoy the simple things in life.
This week’s movie is 1935’s Mad Love from director Karl Freund. It is not about a man who enjoys the simple things in life. Peter Lorre stars as Dr. Gogol, a gifted doctor residing in Paris, France. Dr. Gogol is obsessed with an actress named Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake) who performs at the Théâtre des Horreurs, a kind of combination wax museum and theater of the grotesque.
I think Yvonne stars in some play where she’s being tortured on a rack to the audience’s disgust or delight.
Dr. Gogol decides to meet Yvonne in her dressing room after the show in the hopes of wooing her, but this doesn’t go so well. For starters, Yvonne is married to Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive), a gifted pianist and composer. But there’s a bigger reason why Dr. Gogol stands no chance with Yvonne. She’s a living goddess and Dr. Gogol looks like Kermit the Frog’s deformed brother. And he’s awkward around the Yvonne, even forcing a kiss on her at the wrap party. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Yvonne and Stephen are about to move to England leaving poor Dr. Gogol to obsess over the wax statue of Yvonne he purchased from the museum after her final performance.
Yes, he purchased a wax statue of Yvonne for his house. That’s a little creepy. He even has his elderly maid dress the statue for him with fine garments he purchases from the best boutiques. His maid is a bit of a drinker and has an angry cockatoo perched on her shoulder, but I’m getting off track. Dr. Gogol refers to his wax statue of Yvonne as Galatea and hopes to will her to life. This is one weird dude. I’m sorry for anyone that knows him.
Stephen Orlac is traveling by train when said train gets into a horrible accident. Stephen’s hands are damaged beyond repair, so there goes his piano-playing career. In fact, a doctor wants to amputate his hands. Yvonne wants a second opinion and remembers that gifted doctor who was obsessed with her. Surely, he can save her husband’s hands. Dr. Gogol attempts a hand transplant operation on Stephen and it works. He doesn’t bother telling Stephen or Yvonne that those aren’t his hands.
Did I mention that he transplanted the hands of a recently executed murderer with a penchant for knife throwing? This might explain why Stephen’s piano playing skills have waned, but his knife throwing skills have improved. I’m not going to spoil the end of the film, but don’t be expecting Peter Lorre to get the girl. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on the hunt for some pumpkin flavored cookies.
Photo by Leslie Salas.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.