I neglected to mention it last year and almost forgot again this year but yesterday, April 28th, marked the 101st birthday of Carl Laemmle, Jr, son of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Pictures and Head of Production from 1928 to 1936, the Golden Years of the studio. I'm sorry I didn't write it up last year on his 100th but this year he was fresh on my mind thanks to a post by Arbogast concerning two little movies done under his guidance, Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), both directed by the great James Whale. Carl, known as Junior to friends and family, died of a stroke in 1979 but his legacy will live on forever.
During his years as Head of Production, Universal produced an amazing output of film art with a fraction of the money a studio like MGM had to throw around. And while that included some big award winning prestige films like All Quiet on the Western Front and Waterloo Bridge, the main thing Junior did was make Horror a respectable genre for a studio to hang its hat on. The Cat Creeps (1930), Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) all came under Junior's supervision. In 1935 the studio was losing money despite the box office results of the Horror hits and Junior put favorite director James Whale at the helm of Show Boat (1936). It was a huge success but not enough to save the studio. The two Laemmles were bought out and Junior never produced again. But while he was producing he gave us some of the great works of thirties cinema (and of all time) and helped define the look and feel of Horror for years to come. Happy Belated Birthday Junior, and thanks for the movies.