Fade Out – Val Lewton


Episode 6 - Val Lewton's APACHE DRUMS with Special Guest Gabriel Hardman.

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25 responses to “Fade Out – Val Lewton

  1. I’m so happy you decided to expand Fade Out beyond the initial 5 episodes. Val Lewton is a great filmmaker deserving of an entry. Much like Trog is for Joan Crawford, Apache Drums is not representative of Lewton’s career as a producer.
    George Pal, Irwin Allen, and Roger Corman (who also directed movies) are the only other producers who, like Val Lewton, who’s influence often comes across in the final product.

          1. There you go Mr Kelly. The Shootist has been seconded. Two votes and two volunteers to discuss the movie! (As I would also be happy to talk about the film)

  2. Great discussion! I came to Val Lewton thanks to Boris Karloff, so I’m glad that chocolate and peanut butter combo happened. I’m sure you guys have seen Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, a great documentary TCM used to run all the time. Very well made, and narrated by Martin Scorsese!


  3. This is my shameless attempt to get in the running for a free DVD. Given my repeated bad luck with random drawings throughout my whole life though, I don’t hold out much hope. Still, Apache Drums sounds incredibly worthwhile. May the odds be in my favor.

    Rob, I’m so glad you’ve brought this series back for however many episodes you have planned. You don’t need me to wax your car on this, but I find the premise to be such an interesting and unique way of examining the career of a given filmmaker or actor. As I have said before, I eagerly await the next episode.

    With that said, I spent most of this current episode wondering if you were ever going to actually talk about Lewton’s final film. Haha! I say that facetiously as clearly any discussion about Lewton needs to examine his career at RKO, especially his horror films. But, when you finally got around to Apache Drums, I was pleased to hear that it is a film with a great deal to recommend it and that it is most definitely not an ignoble last film for Lewton even if it doesn’t reach the mastery shown in Cat People or The Body Snatcher.

    Personally, I’m fascinated when a great filmmaker or writer seeks to work within a given genre to see how he/she will work within the framework of that genre and perhaps transcend it. From your discussion with Gabriel, it sounds like Lewton made a western that provides the audience with something more to chew than the usual trappings found in this type of film.

    One final thought: I find it interesting that most people give so much credit to Lewton for the films he produced while so little is said about the directors of these films. I’m not making the argument that Lewton doesn’t deserve a great deal of credit for his films, but the shift in focus away from the director in this instance when film is so often described as a director’s medium seems to be a conversation worth having.

    Thanks for giving me something great to listen to while I’m working from home today. It made grading online essays so much more bearable.

  4. I’m a big Lewton fan but must admit I haven’t seen this one. It sounds extremely fascinating!

    I love Seventh Victim (that ending, chilling sound effect). I love Cat people. I love I walked with a Zombie. I love The Body Snatcher.

    But I really really love Isle of the Dead. Maybe it is the medical angle of plague vs demon that grabs me. But it is brilliant.

    So I hope to track this one down.

    PS- I just saw The Bold and the Beuatiful for the first time (I know I know) and loved that Lewton homage scene!

    1. Thanks Anj! While I can’t say AD is as compelling as Lewton’s horror movies, it really is quite unusual for what most people would assume was a boiler plate western.

  5. Like Anj, I’m a big Van Lewton fan (so the Bad&Beautiful reference was not lost on me) ever since I chugged through all the famous horror ones one day in October on TCM.

    Loved hearing you talk about this hidden gem of his!

    1. Could be worse. My personal connection to Lewton is remembering that time Catwoman used Irena Dubrovna as an alias.

        1. The issue I remember was Catwoman Vol 3 #53, the same issue where she gives birth to a daughter, but there may have been more than one instance. Slam Bradley calls her out on it, but he probably saw the movie in theaters. I can’t remember for sure, but I think Selina may have made it that obvious as a signal to a certain grim vigilante that likes to pose with gargoyles.


  6. This was fascinating even though I’d never heard of Lewton and only heard of a few of his films. Obviously, this is one of the F&W podcasts where I come in as Eliza Doolittle and the network all-stars drop both knowledge and class. However, I like westerns that make the audience think. I like morally ambiguous people with their back to the wall figuring out what they do and don’t stand for and explorations of (and contemplations of empathy with) an ominous Other. Like many on this network, I’ve shown a marked predilection for people all done up in primary colors. So please consider me a contestant in the great Apache Drums lottery!

    1. Oh, and regarding the Film Collectors’ Society who sold you the DVD, I tend to support groups titled “_________ Society of America.” It just has a ring to it, somehow.

      1. Thanks for listening Captain! I know it’s a hard lift, because so few people have seen APACHE DRUMS, but hopefully it was an entertaining listen.

        1. It absolutely was, Rob. As you and Gabriel pointed out, Lewton had an effect on the culture that I’ve seen even though I haven’t watched the movies. As you talked, I was reminded of some of the creative decisions on the original Night of the Living Dead and Jaws. So when you can talk about his work, I can still kind of “get it.”

          I remember reading someone — a poet, I think — arguing that the restrictions placed on us by a particular form (or in this case, a small budget) drive our creativity and give it direction, not limit it. I think Lewton would have agreed.

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