Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/01/13 -- Vol. 32, No. 18, Whole Number 1778

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted.

All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion
unless otherwise noted.

To subscribe, send mail to
To unsubscribe, send mail to
The latest issue is at
An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at

        The Birthplace of the Cellphone Is Being Turned Into a Mall
        Oh, Well! (comments by Mark R. Leeper)        
        Mini-Review Season (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Our "War of the Worlds" Tour of New Jersey (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        EERIE TALES (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Sports Names (probably not a letter of comment
                from Time Magazine)
        This Week's Reading (REBECCA and THE CRAFT OF THE
                SCREENWRITER) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: The Birthplace of the Cellphone Is Being Turned Into a Mall

For all the Bell Labbers left from when the MT VOID was actually
connected with it, you might find this article interesting,
especially the photographs:


TOPIC: Oh, Well! (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

We were listening to a history lecture and a famous person was said
to "sleep with every woman he could get his hands on."  So what?  I
do that and it doesn't do me any good.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Mini-Review Season (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

We are coming to the time of the year when some of the better films
are released and we are fast approaching the time when I have to
vote on film awards.  I will continue to write some full reviews,
but I will also write short reviews just to save on writing time
and make sure the film I have seen get mentioned.

Sarah Polley is a good actor and with AWAY FROM HER she
demonstrated she was an even better director.  Nonetheless, this
very personal documentary tells more about her than we really need
to know.  Here she interviews her family about their past.
Eventually she gets to a family secret important to her, but of
which she was unaware.  The secret is not a particularly unusual
one.  I am sure in my town or any small town there are people with
the same secret.  The key to finding this film affecting is being
shocked by Polley's discoveries and without spoiling the film the
family secret just fails to be remarkable.  Rating: low +1 on the
-4 to +4 scale or 5/10

Tom Hanks is really today's Henry Fonda.  There is just something
about his manner that puts the viewer on his side.  There is
integrity to the characters he plays.  In fact he is the only
familiar actor in the film.  In this account based on an actual
incident Phillips is the captain of a container ship is called upon
to be resourceful when Somali pirates board his boat and take
control.  The trailer seems to imply the plot is a competition
between Somali pirates and a wily US sea captain.  To some extent
it is, but that is not what defeats the Somalis.  Phillips's
resourcefulness gives the Americans an advantage, but in the end it
is United States Navy brute force and guile that overcomes the
pirates.  This film is not so much an action film as a first cousin
to DOG DAY AFTERNOON.  Rating: +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10

Robert Quarry who was a surprisingly satisfying modern-day vampire
vampire in DEATHMASTER, also made for American International
Pictures.  A coffin washes ashore containing something we do not
see, but we come to know it is the body of Korda the Vampire.  He
turns up in a gang of hippies and is adopted as their guru for
making oracular pronouncements that are taken for Eastern
philosophy.  One of the hippies is a kung fu expert, and Korda
recognizes his virtue and offers to make him immortal.  I doubt
anybody in 1972 was convinced by the pseudo-hippy philosophy or the
pseudo-Eastern philosophy and things have not changed much.  Still
it is worth seeing for the vampire parts.  Rating: high 0 on the -4
to +4 scale or 5/10

This Danish film covers some of the same territory as CAPTAIN
PHILLIPS, but in most ways this is the superior film.  A cargo ship
is captured by Somali pirates.  But the emphasis of the film is not
on the conflict between the crew and the pirates.  An executive of
the shipping company Peter Ludvigsen (played by Soren Malling)
chooses to negotiate for the company himself in spite of the advice
of a hired advisor.  That condemns him to the stress of a months-
long negotiation.  The emphasis is much more on the negotiations to
bargain with the pirates and the story of each side.  This is not
an action film.  Violence is kept off-screen and primarily is
inflicted on a goat.  (Well, the Somalis had to bring more food on
board and their most portable food source is goats.)  Unlike the
Hanks film the bargaining process drags on for long months.  While
various people have misunderstandings of each other, we understand
motives that are not clear to other people involved.  And because
film makes the process understandable for the viewer the film
reminds one of the excellent MARGIN CALL (2011).  Most of the A
HIGHJACKING is in Danish, but all negotiations are held in English
which helps a lot.  Rating: low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10

This film rarity was the last film directed by Tod Browning, who
directed DRACULA (1931) and FREAKS (1932) as well as several Lon
Chaney films.  Sadly it turns out to be a surprisingly conventional
murder mystery.  The main character, played by Robert Young, is an
inventor of illusions for stage magician and in his spare time he
is a debunker of fake spiritualist mediums.  Browning, who used
real circus freaks for FREAKS, did not bother to use real stage
illusions from the magicians.  Instead he uses obvious camera
tricks or card tricks in which he plants convenient cards in the
performers hands.  Fans of Universal horror films of the 30s and
40s will enjoy seeing many familiar faces including Henry Hull of
Frank Craven of SON OF DRACULA.  Also playing is William Demarest
and Eddie Acuff.  In the end the film really does not work because
someone who uses a disguise is just not very well disguised.
Rating: 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10



TOPIC: Our "War of the Worlds" Tour of New Jersey (comments by
Evelyn C. Leeper)

Last Saturday we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Orson
Welles broadcast of "War of the Worlds" with a "War of the Worlds"
tour of New Jersey--well, more specifically, a "War of the Worlds"
tour of Grover's Mill.

The town in the October 30, 1938, broadcast was called Grovers Mill
(according to the script); the real New Jersey town is Grover's
Mill (apparently gradually changing into Grovers Mill, if one goes
by the signs).  So as you can see by the date, Saturday was not
precisely the anniversary, but it was clearly the day to take the

We began with a non-"War of the Worlds" stop at the Cranbury
Bookworm, where we found a few books and a Teaching Company course
on the masterpieces of the Louvre.  Cranbury is basically right
next door to Grover's Mill, so we could not pass up the chance to
go there.  (By the way, for any modern history buffs, the Bookworm
has just acquired a *huge* library of practically pristine history
books dealing with the 20th century, and also a large quantity from
the same source dealing with Jewish history.)

Anyway, after Cranbury we headed for West Windsor Community Park,
but on the way, we passed the Grover's Mill Coffee Co.  I had read
about this cafe, but had never sought it out.  However, since it
was right there...

The cafe is decorated with all sorts of "War of the Worlds"
memorabilia: photographs and newspaper clippings pertaining to the
1938 broadcast, radio sets from the 1930s (or at least the
exteriors of radio sets), movie posters from the 1953 George Pal
and 2005 Steven Spielberg versions, and original paintings by
Robert Hummel of the Martians invading Grovers Mill.  There were
also caps and T-shirts displayed from previous anniversaries.  One
interesting item was a letter from the State Police Headquarters in
Trenton to the CBS network complaining about how the hoax tied up
all their emergency personnel, and what if there had been a real
emergency during that time?

We also saw a poster for a film titled "Grover's Mill", about the
broadcast.  I thought it was an obscure feature-length film, but it
turned out to be an obscure short film (9 minutes long), not very
good, but available free on YouTube for all you completists out
there.  (There is also a one-hour "Studio One" episode called "The
Night America Trembled" and a feature-length TV movie "The Night
That Panicked America"--both also available on YouTube.)

We then proceeded to West Windsor Community Park, with some
difficulty because we missed the rather small sign the first time
past it.  When we saw we were driving past the library, I figured
that would be a good place to go in and get directions, and it was.

The "historical display" pertaining to "War of the Worlds" was
rather small, but this was in part a function of the weather.
First of all, we had to ask one of the police at the "Trunk or
Treat" area of the park where it was, as it was not visible from
the road.  It turned out to be behind one of the pavilions, because
that was one of the few places out of the wind, and even there, all
the papers on the tables had to be held down with rocks.  Because
the protected area was small, they could not spread out as much as
they might normally have.

The display was similar to what was in the Grover's Mill Coffee
Co., with the artist displaying a slightly different painting, and
books and panels of clippings about the broadcast, and about the
various anniversary celebrations.  They seem to have had a big
celebration in 1988, and a couple of more since then, but for this
year's 75th anniversary, it was rather low-key.  They were showing
the 1953 movie that evening in the Senior Center, and the Grover's
Mill Coffee Co. was having two live re-enactments of the broadcast,
one on Saturday and one on October 30 itself.  (Were we going to
hang around, it would have been for the re-enactment.)

It would have been a good idea for West Windsor (or whoever) to
play this up more--according to one of the women who had set up the
display, they got calls from as far away as Germany about what was
being planned.

After looking at the display and talking to some of the people
there, we continued to Van Nest Park.  This is the park in the
heart of the Grovers Mill section of West Windsor.  In the park is
a six-foot-tall plaque commemorating the broadcast (see that was erected for the 50th

Only a few blocks away is the water tower reportedly shot at by a
farmer who mistook it for an invading Martian.  It is almost
impossible to see from the main road, but we drove down the dead-
end street Bolfmar Avenue and I could just glimpse it between the
branches.  We parked the car and as we got out, a woman walking her
dogs said to us, "The water tower is over there," and pointed
towards it, adding, "You can see it best from over here."  I guess
when strangers show up on Bolfmar Avenue, especially at the end of
October, it is not hard to deduce what they are there for.

We could indeed see the water tower, and the end of October is
probably a good time, because having the leaves off many of the
trees helped.  During the summer, it might well be invisible even
from Bolfmar.

The woman also mentioned trail markers in Van Nest Park about the
broadcast.  Trail markers?  We drove back and indeed, along the
trail leading to the dock and picnic pavilion, Danny Fitzpatrick of
BSA Troop 40 had erected a series of informational markers as his
Eagle Scout project earlier this 2013.  It's nice to see that some
teenagers respect tradition.

So then we drove home and watched the 1953 film and the "Studio
One" episode.  Ave, War of the Worlds!  [-ecl]


TOPIC: EERIE TALES (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: One of the earliest examples of the horror omnibus film,
this 1919 macabre work stars Conrad Veidt, Reinhold Schunzel, and
Anita Berber as three fantastical paintings that come to life in a
bookshop and share the horror stories they are reading.  There are
five stories, mostly familiar.  Veidt was not yet the horror film
star of Germany, but this film would go a long way to make him one.
[I will not rate the film on the same scale I put modern films, but
it is well worth a look.]

Among the classics of the British horror film is a set of anthology
horror films produced by Amicus: DR TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS
and FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1973).  They were all apparently
inspired by Ealing Studios DEAD OF NIGHT (1945).  But the history
of the anthology horror film goes back considerably further.  Even
before Conrad Veidt appeared in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920),
he starred IN UNHEIMLICHE GESCHICHTEN (1919), better known as EERIE
TALES or UNCANNY TALES.  This is a film that has long been missing
and recently has been found again.  As of this writing it is
available on YouTube.

The setting is a mysterious bookstore.  Watching over the customers
are three paintings showing respectively a prostitute, Death, and
the Devil.  When the shop closes the three leave their paintings
and have themselves a high old time playing and reading horrific
stories out of the books.  There are five stories, mostly familiar
including Poe's "The Black Cat," "Dr. Tarr and Professor Feather,"
and Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Suicide Club." "The Hand" by
Robert Liebmann is also told.  The first story, "The Apparition" by
Anselma Heine is an oft-told story that Terence Fisher later also
adapted to a full-length film.  The three actors star in each of
the stories as well as the framing sequence.

Director Richard Oswald was not a newcomer to fantasy anthology
films.  Three years earlier he had filmed a dramatic version to
TALES OF HOFFMAN (1916).  He had also directed two of the parts of
an adaptation of DER HUND VON BASKERVILLE (1915).  This same year,
1919, Oswald had made his most famous film, DIFFERENT FROM THE
OTHERS, a sympathetic portrait of a gay man being blackmailed.  The
gay man was also played by Veidt.

I would have to say that if this film came out two years later it
would be considered to be part of the German Expressionistic
movement.  Certainly if the sequences are not expressionistic, they
are shot in a manner that is melodramatic.  The acting is
exaggerated at is invariably is in silent film and particularly
expressionist film.  A problem with silent film is that it is
really a slow medium for telling a story because the actors have to
slow down for florid gestures.  The stories have to be stripped to
the bare minimum to make time for the body language.  It makes the
telling almost operatic.  But there is enough plot to keep the
viewer interested.  It is surprising how similar this is to the
horror films of the 1970s.

See EERIE TALES on YouTube:êaEqSwe8SU

(On YouTube you can turn on subtitles clicking the CC icon in the
lower right of the screen.)

Film Credits:



TOPIC: Sports Names (probably not a letter of comment from Time

Probably not in response to Mark's comments on sports team names in
the 10/04/13 issue of the MT VOID, Time Magazine ran an article on
page 13 in their 11/04 issue about possibly replacement names for
the Washington Redskins.  These included the Washington Gridlocks,
the Washington Whistle-Blowers, and the Washington Deficits.


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier (ISBN 978-0-380-73040-5) begins with a
chapter that is practically botanical pornography:

"Nature had come into her own again and, little by little, in her
stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon the drive with long
tenacious fingers.  They crowded, dark and uncontrolled, to the
borders of the drive.  The beeches with white, naked limbs leant
close to one another, their branches intermingled in a strange
embrace, making a vault above my head like the archway of a church.
And there were other tress as well, trees that I did not recognise,
squat oaks and tortured elms that straggled check by jowl with the
beeches, and had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth, along
with monster shrubs and plants, none of which I remembered.  ...
The trees had thrown out low branches, making an impediment to
progress, the gnarled roots looking like skeleton claws.  ...  I
saw that the garden had obeyed the jungle law, even as the woods
had done.  The rhododendrons stood fifty feet high, twisted and
entwined with bracken, and they had entered into alien marriage
with a host of nameless shrubs, poor, bastard things that clung
about their roots as though conscious of their spurious origin.  A
lilac had mated with a copper beech, and to bind them yet more
closely to one another the malevolent ivy, always an enemy to
grace, had thrown her tendrils about the pair and made them

The classic question left unanswered in REBECCA is, "What is the
narrator's given name and maiden name?"  Du Maurier goes to great
length to avoid giving them; Hitchcock did likewise in his film
version.  But du Maurier does drop a couple of clues.  When Maxim
first sends the narrator a note, she writes, "But my name was on
the envelope, and spelt correctly, an unusual thing."  And later,
Maxim says to her, "You have a very lovely and unusual name."  Both
of these could easily be applied to Daphne du Maurier's own name,
and while I do not think she was making herself the narrator's
character, I suspect there may have been some idea that the name
was hers.

[Spoilers follow.]

John Sutherland, in his essay on unanswered questions in REBECCA,
quotes Hitchcock as seeing a flaw in the second body washing up on
the beach the same night as Rebecca disappeared.  But that was the
movie's flaw; in the novel, two months elapse, and indeed, they
have to, or the body would not be so decomposed that it could be
mis-identified.  Obviously if it were the same night, it would be a
rather unbelievable coincidence, but it was not.  Sutherland lists
the second body's identity as an unanswered question, but it is not
one that needs answering in the context of the book.  Clearly there
are no unsolved missing persons reports matching it, so it is
(undoubtedly) presumed to be someone with no friends or relatives.

And there must have been something in the air, or the water, or
something, because in the same year (1938) both du Maurier and
Agatha Christie used the same metaphor.  Du Maurier wrote of Mrs.
Van Hopper's appearance when she said, "while she, like a large,
complacent spider, spun her wide net of tedium around the
stranger's person."  And Christie introduced Mrs. Boynton in
APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH with the description, "Old, swollen,
bloated, sitting there immovable--a distorted old Buddha--a gross
spider in the center of a web."

The film also changed the meeting of heroine and Maxim from the
hotel in Monte Carlo to the cliff, eliminating the need for the
later scene of Maxim and the heroine on the cliff.  (Later there is
condensation of scenes, with what in the novel are the fireworks of
the ball actually being the distress rockets of the ship, which in
the novel does not wreck until the next day.)

Similarly, Leff says, "Selznick added scenes of Van Hopper's
confinement" to provide space for the romantic development, but
again these were in the novel.  I suppose it is possible that the
scenes were not in the original screenplay and Selznick asked for
them to be added, but Leff seems to imply they were entirely
Selznick's idea.

A detail that is new in the film is that Rebecca's underwear was
made by nuns, emphasizing the distinction between Rebecca's pure
persona in the manor and her lascivious persona in the cottage.

On the Criterion DVD, Leonard J. Leff says, "Hitchcock of course
had [Mrs. Van Hooper] choose the cold cream for her ashtray."
First of all, that is directly from the novel.  But secondly, the
screenplay credit is to Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison; the
adaptation credit is to Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan.  It is
possible that Leff saying that Hitchcock made that choice because
the original treatment given to MacDonald and Hogan was written by
Hitchcock, Hogan, and Alma Reville, but even if so, it is not clear
which of them decided to use the scene.

Similarly, Leff says that Hitchcock's early treatments for REBECCA
have the heroine breaking the Cupid in anger, while the film shows
her breaking it in clumsiness.  But the film shows what du Maurier
wrote, slightly changed in actual method but still from clumsiness
rather than from anger.  (This makes sense, because she also
overturned the vase of flowers in Monte Carlo from awkwardness, and
drops her gloves when she first arrives at Manderly.  These two
events are retained from the novel in the film.)

The biggest change, though, was due to Joseph Breen, who insisted
that murder could not go unpunished, which eventually resulted in
changing the murder to an accident.

[End spoilers.]

And speaking of screenwriting, in THE CRAFT OF THE SCREENWRITER by
John Brady (ISBN 978-0-671-25230-4) Ernest Lehman complains about
how reviewers seem to assume that there is no screenwriter.  He
quotes a review of EXECUTIVE SUITE as saying, "Director Robert Wise
then moves his drama to the boardroom for the final sequence," and
then continues, "No.  The director doesn't move the drama to the
boardroom; the screenwriter moves it to the boardroom because
that's where he and/or the novelist thinks it should be."

(The classic story along these lines is how screenwriter Robert
Riskin got tired of reading about how the director Frank Capra gave
all his movies "the famous Capra touch," so he sent in a sheaf of
blank paper for his next screenplay and said, "Let's see you give
that the famous Capra touch!")

But perhaps the best exchange in the 1981 book is from the
interview with Paddy Chayevsky:

Brady: Do you think your films will work ten years from now?

Chayevesky: Sure, they'll hold up.  Those are well-made movies, so
they'll hold up well.

Brady: I think of NETWORK, for example, a movie about television
here and now, and I wonder if ten years from now...

Chayevsky: NETWORK will hold up very well; NETWORK is a good
picture.  A good picture always holds up.  I looked at my old TV
shows; they hold up.  They're period pieces.  They deal with a
world that is almost gone.  But they hold up as statements of their

Brady was clearly way off-track on doubting NETWORK's staying power,
but Chayevsky was also wrong if he thought that ten years
later it would be a period piece.  It has now been over thirty-five
years and it seems just as fresh as when Chayevsky wrote it.  (I
just re-watched it, and the only part that did not ring true was
that there were only four networks.)

Oh, well, as William Goldman (another interviewee) famously said,
"Nobody [in Hollywood] knows anything."  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Literature is mostly about having sex and not much
           about having children; life is the other way round.
                                           --David Lodge