Category Archives: Dark Shadows

Grayson Hall bio

It’s so seldom I get to say this (in fact, to be honest, this is the first time I have)–a friend of mine has just published a book: R.J. Jamison’s Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow.

Grayson Hall
was probably best known for her work on Dark Shadows and her role in John Huston’s Night of the Iguana, but she was also a noted theatre actress who appeared on and off Broadway. She’s enjoyed quite the cult following for a number of decades. She also had a rather interesting life. The book is well-researched and highly readable–and I’m not just saying that because I know the author.

Also read Geraldine BrooksMarch. She took Mr. March from Little Women and created a story around him. This book focuses on his travels in the ante-bellum South and then his adventures with the army during the Civil War. As well-written as it is, I really didn’t care for the book.
What Brooks came up for March as far as backstory seems quite plausible, but really…

I thought Mr. March was an annoying prig when I read Little Women and by the end of Brooks’ novel, I thought he was a really annoying prig.


2:30AM TV!

Insomnia is an annoying thing to have. Last night, I fell asleep at the old lady hour of 9:30, missing the last half of Blow Out. Yes, I know it’s trash and possesses no redeeming qualities, but I don’t care. I have dropped two reality based shows from my line-up count ‘em two and I haven’t added any more. But I digress. I woke up at 2:30 AM too awake to get the sleep I needed, but too tired to do anything productive. Been there, done that, more times than I care to admit. My usual prescription is TV and Sudoku puzzles. Unfortunately 2:30 AM also means there are umpteen million channels with nothing but infomercials. My two choices were Her Twelve Men and Donnie Darko neither of which I had ever seen and both of which were already in progress.

Her Twelve Men was a programmer featuring Greer Garson in her last film for MGM. I think they’d hired Deborah Kerr (another elegant English redhead) by then and Hollywood has never been kind to older leading ladies. Garson’s a widow looking for a new direction in life. She becomes a teacher at a boys’ boarding school headed up by Richard Haydn (if you’re too lazy to click, he was the theatrical agent in The Sound of Music). The redoubtable Robert Ryan is the cynical co-teacher and love interest. Schmaltzy and largely forgettable, but I couldn’t help watching. Robert Ryan has that effect on me.

Donnie Darko
was an altogether different kettle of fish. I suspect it would have helped if I’d been completely awake, seeing the film in its entirety, and without commercials. But I wasn’t. Jake Gyllenhaal is the lead. I guess troubled teen may be the closest I can come to the character. Whether he’s schizophrenic or whether his visions are real is unclear. But he’s seeing something, namely an evil looking giant rabbit named Frank. There’s a mess of stuff in there about time travel and alternate realities, but between Bravo’s cuts and my switching between this and the Greer Garson flick, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. I’ll add it to the list of DVDs to watch.

Dan Curtis passed away this week. I have a love/hate reaction to his work. On the one hand, he was the driving force behind one of the more interesting and creative soaps ever produced, Dark Shadows. On the other hand, he apparently didn’t have the strongest handle on the soap opera format. In the long run, I suspect that contributed to the show’s demise. All that said, he was a creative man and he will be missed.

Sunday Morning Decadence

Took my own sweet time getting up on Sunday. Made myself some coffee and a bagel and spent the morning in bed devouring two gothic novels I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

There’s this writer, Francis Swann, who wrote some of my favorite episodes of Dark Shadows and a couple of years ago, I did a little research on him. He had an interesting if predictable career. Started out with a hit Broadway play, ended up in Hollywood writing screenplays that gradually went from A-pictures to B-pictures. Then he wrote a number of soft gothics and eventually wound up his career by writing for Dark Shadows.

Anyhow, I started out with a number called The Brass Key. Sweet young thing [SYT] goes to her father’s hometown of Seco, Maine with the mission of connecting up with her newfound relatives and also of clearing her father’s name. Unfortunately for her, her grandfather, who runs the town claims that she’s a gold digger and that her father never existed. Whole town seems to be against her. Weird things happen. Some local color. Things go bump in the night. Eventually all is resolved.

Second one was decidely inferior. The cover proclaims that You’ll Hang My Love is soon to be a major motion picture, but I can’t find any trace of that. It’s co-written to boot. Premise isn’t too bad, but the execution is . . . well, let’s just say this is pretty awful. Set in a small village in England, but there’s absolutely no attempt at establishing an English voice for any of the characters or for that matter there’s no attempt at authenticity whatsoever. Anyhow, the SYT in this one is waffling about getting married and is spending time with her grandfather. Turns out that when she was a kid, she possibly witnessed an awful tragedy involving a drowning. Things start getting weird with the mother of the drowning victim real fast.

Still, there are worse ways to spend a morning…