Antonio Moreno

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, Jack Arnold)

Almost all of Creature from the Black Lagoon is a compelling mix of science fiction, workplace drama and horror. The Creature makes a great “villain” because there’s nothing human about him (except maybe his fixation on leading lady Julie Adams) so it’s possible to both fear him and to understand leading man Richard Carlson’s scientific point of view.

The only place it falls apart is the finish, where the screenwriters and director Arnold feel the need for some excitement; they tack on a totally unnecessary action sequence.

The workplace drama elements are Carlson, Adams and Richard Denning (as their boss). Denning’s performance of a money hungry scientist who slowly loses it is outstanding. He sort of outdoes everyone else in the picture, except maybe Nestor Paiva. Paiva’s the captain of the ship taking these bickering ichthyologists on their exploration. The script constantly unveils something new (and unlikely) about his character, but Paiva essays it all beautifully.

As a director, Arnold embraces the exploration wonderment, juxtaposing it against the horror aspects in the picture. When the wonderment declines and the more thriller tone comes up, he does well with it too.

The film has outstanding photography from William E. Snyder and excellent music from its (uncredited) composers. The underwater photography gives it spectacle value, but Arnold and his crew make the land sections almost as good. The sets are great and the Creature’s makeup is fantastic.

Creature, thanks to Arnold, the cast and its smart script, is a rather fine film.



Directed by Jack Arnold; screenplay by Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross, based on a story by Maurice Zimm; director of photography, William E. Snyder; edited by Ted J. Kent; music by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter and Herman Stein; produced by William Alland; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Richard Carlson (David Reed), Julie Adams (Kay Lawrence), Richard Denning (Mark Williams), Antonio Moreno (Carl Maia), Whit Bissell (Edwin Thompson) and Nestor Paiva (Lucas).

Mare Nostrum (1926, Rex Ingram)

Even if forgiving the melodramatic story, Mare Nostrum plays more like a travelogue with occasionally interesting effects scenes than anything else. Ingram’s a fine director–except his awkward cuts to close-up, they’re common, which is annoying since his other compositions are not–and the film moves quite well. It’s predictable (the end is foreshadowed in the first scene and the big development is kind of obvious) and often too much… but it passes time well, using action scenes to get the interest up.

Of the action scenes, I suppose the chase through Marseille is the best. There are some excellent special effects sequences, but Ingram uses them sparingly. The movie’s about a Mediterranean sea captain during World War I and there’s some at sea sequences with well-shot models. Technically, it’s a nice film. I love not being able to figure out how someone did special effects.

The performances are okay in general, with Pâquerette an excellent villain. Antonio Moreno is ineffective the first half as the lead and better, once the big development occurs, in the second. Unfortunately, the reverse is true for Alice Terry. As the love interest (and Austrian spy), she’s a lot better at the beginning than in the end. Not all of it is her fault, the script throws her some really absurd situations.

Given the World War I subject matter, I figured Mare Nostrum would be a little better. I don’t know why, maybe because there’s so much possible material, it’d be hard for something not to use it… but the film manages. Still, it’s fine. Not particularly interesting, definitely not involving, but there’s some good stuff in it.



Directed by Rex Ingram; screenplay by Willis Goldbeck, based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez; director of photography, John F. Seitz; edited by Grant Whytock; produced by Ingram, Harry Lachman and Walter Pallman; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Apollon Uni (The Triton), Álex Nova (Don Esteban Ferragut), Kada-Abd-el-Kader (Young Ulysses), Hughie Mack (Caragol), Alice Terry (Freya Talberg), Antonio Moreno (Ulysses Ferragut), Mademoiselle Kithnou (Dona Cinta), Mickey Brantford (Esteban), Rosita Ramírez (Pepita), Frédéric Mariotti (Toni), Pâquerette (Doctor Fedelmann), Fernand Mailly (Count Kaledine) and Andrews Engelmann (Submarine Commander).

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