‘INTIMATE INTERVIEWS–BELA LUGOSI’

Yesterday I posted a fascinating little oddity of an interview with James Cagney shot in 1931 for a series of shorts called ‘Intimate Interviews’. There were two more of these done, one with Bela Lugosi and the last with Walter Huston. Above I’ve posted the Bela Lugosi, filmed as the actor was newly hot off the success of ‘Dracula’. Go to yesterdays post to read what little I can divine as to how this fascinating little troika of short films were made and by whom. The two women responsible for them, Grace Elliot and Dorothy West (director and ‘on-air’ host respectively) clearly were at the vanguard of women in filmmaking at the time. And all traces of them, save for these three short films, seemingly have vanished. The films share similarities–they begin with Dorothy West at her reporters desk preparing for the upcoming interview.. Then the arrival at the stars house. The interviews are shot outside, a choice no doubt having to do with lighting–a few reflectors may have been used but no lights would have been necessary. But the garden/poolside settings give the films a glammy (for their time) ‘at home in Hollywood’ vibe that must have thrilled the handful of people who actually saw these things. Lugosi is handsome and suave with his perfectly slicked back hair and high-waisted slacks, puffing on a cigar and being ruminative and charmingly Eastern-European. It’s quite fascinating to see Lugosi being ‘himself’–as with the Cagney short there is a slightly unscripted quality to some of his interview, especially when he discusses how competitive the environment for actors was at the National Theater in Budapest (where he began). Then, as with the other ‘Intimate Interviews’ shorts, comes the joke ending which allows the audience to breath a friendly sigh of relief. After all, too much intimacy with actors is never a healthy thing.

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