Ghoulish Vintage Noir Paintings.

travis-louie-02One can see clearly the influence of early cinematic techniques in the paintings of New York visual artist Travis Louie, particularly that of German Expressionism and Film Noir.
It is in the imagery that he chooses to engage with and in the colours which he uses to bring it all to life: think Victorian freak show sketched in all manner of shades.
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via Ghoulish Vintage-style Paintings by Travis Louie | Illusion Magazine.

Bride of Frankenstein, 1935.

While many of the profitable Universal monster movies were given sequels, Frankenstein’s first one is of particular interest.
With the success of the original picture, Universal realized it needed the director James Whale to come back and do the follow up, too. Whale, however, thought he’d done as much with the story as he could and was uninterested in working on a sequel.
He finally consented after being given full control of the picture including the script (along with a promise he could direct another film in which he was interested.
The result was one of those rare things, a motion picture sequel which is considered better than the original, similar to The Godfather Part 2.
Karloff repeated his role as the monster, while actress Elsa Lanchester took the part of the creature’s mate created by Frankenstein in order to fulfill a promise to the monster.
Lanchester also played the writer, Mary Shelley, in a flashback at the beginning of the picture.
Despite the bride only appearing for a few minutes at the end of the production, the makeup work of Jack Peirce again provided the world with an indelible image of a literary character.
via The UnMuseum – The Universal Monsters

Phaedra’s Suicide by Cabanel.

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Donated by Alexandre Cabanel (born 1823 in Montpelier – died 1889 in Paris) to the museum of his birthplace, this painting is an exemplary work by the artist and strongly representative of his achievements and success during the period.
The classical figure of Phaedra’s languid body stretches across the canvas.
Nearly as white as the sheet draped over her, her body dramatically contrasts against the vivid colours of the setting.
The details of the architectural features, furs, fabrics and the servant’s costumes are all rendered sumptuously and create an atmosphere of exotic luxury.
Cabanel used the wife of a prominent banker as his model.
That he could represent the significant classical figure of Phaedra in this way – both frail and banal – was heavily criticised at the Salon of 1880, where the painting’s confusion of insignificant details was also taken to task.
Nonetheless, it was precisely the painting’s confusion of banality and excess that made it a fitting, nostalgic allegory to Second Empire society.
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via French Painting from the Musee Fabre | Alexandre CABANEL | Phaedra.

Death by Billiard Ball, 1893.

Screen-shot-2014-05-13-at-12The Carlisle Arms on Bateman Street was the scene of London’s only known death through near-inhalation of a billiard ball.
In November 1893, a 24-year-old envelope cutter named Walter Cowle reckoned he could place a whole billiard ball in his mouth and still close his teeth.
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This he achieved, but only by accidentally blocking his windpipe and choking to death.
The coroner later declared that it was a ‘silly and dangerous feat to attempt’.
You can still drink in the pub to this day, but it no longer contains a billiard table.
Source: Grantham Journal, 11 November 1893
via Five Weird Facts About London You Probably Didn’t Know | Londonist.

How Edgar Allan Poe Became Our Premier Storyteller.

Like The Great Gatsby and Moby-Dick, Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado are among the top 100 books assigned in American college English classes.
But Poe is not confined to scholarly debate; each January hundreds of Poe fans mark his birthday (1809) with pilgrimages to Poe sites in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Richmond.
The stories and poems scribbled by the half-mad Romantic have shaped our national obsession with tales of chaos and darkness. Says Kirsten Mollegaard, an English professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo who has examined Poe’s fame: “
No other American writer has had as enduring and pervasive an influence on popular culture.”Go to YouTube and you’ll find “The Raven,” about the ill-omened creature given to chanting “Nevermore,” read aloud by Christopher Walken, William Shatner, James Earl Jones and Lisa Simpson, Homer’s daughter.
Poe’s tale has inspired actors such as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, John Cusack and Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Poe changed world literature with the first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published in 1841.
In other words, he “made possible about 80 percent of contemporary literature and television programming,” says J.W. Ocker, author of Poe-Land.
With C. Auguste Dupin, a brilliant, eccentric outsider who outsmarts the bumbling constabulary with analytical reasoning, Poe created the forerunner of all fictional detectives to come.
In 1901, Arthur Conan Doyle, who created Sherlock Holmes, called Poe the “father of the detective tale” and complained that Poe had “covered its limits so completely that I fail to see how his followers can find any fresh ground which they can confidently call their own.”
Poe’s fictional “tales of ratiocination,” as Poe himself called them, also introduced a style of deduction that influenced real-world crime-solving.
Read on via Source: How Edgar Allan Poe Became Our Era’s Premier Storyteller | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

‘Electrocution’ is a ‘Gobbledygook’ word.

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In 1899, the Chicago Eagle advised its readers that the word “Electrocution” though “popularly applied to this process of inflicting capital punishment, is a bad and incorrect one,” and the correct term was “execution by electricity.”
The Sacramento Daily Record-Union said, “the English language has enough to bear in the way of absurdity, slang and vulgarity, without this new affliction.”
But the best condemnation of electrocution came from Ambrose Bierce’s 1909 catalogue of language peeves, Write it Right, where he called the word “no less than disgusting, and the thing meant by it is felt to be altogether too good for the word’s inventor.”
via 12 Horrible Gobbledygook Words We Reluctantly Accepted | Mental Floss.