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THE FAMOUS SPIEGELTENT #9 "IF THESE WALLS COULD ONLY TALK...."

(BEST VIEWED LARGER THAN LIFE...)

 

One dark and stormy night in the first half of the 20th Century a fabulously portentuous carnivale was held in Brussels at The Famous Spiegeltent mirrored entertainment pavillion.

 

Everybody who was Anybody was there....

 

Names were exchanged, promises made, messages delivered, contracts signed, innocence corrupted, pistols cocked, villains foiled, meetings convened, futures foretold, lives threatened, babies kissed, sabres rattled, lies told, fortunes made, infernal devices armed, vengeance sworn, poisons decanted, ciphers decoded, cabals infilitrated, virgins sacrificed, covers blown, prisoners rescued, blueprints stolen, daggers drawn, spells cast, assassinations thwarted, blood shed, truces broken, officials bribed, trusts betrayed, traps laid, wagers placed, frauds perpetrated, murders planned, hostages taken, MacGuffin's traded, unholy alliances confirmed, swashes buckled, alibis established, heroes hunted, arcane portals opened, documents forged, fates sealed, plots hatched, kittens eaten, and more than one dangerous liason consumated.

 

If these walls could only talk....

 

THE PLAYERS

 

Front Row (Left To Right)

 

-Detective Charles Chan. Honolulu Police Department.

-Chandu The Magician.

-Lady Jane Greystoke.

-Lord Greystoke (John Clayton).

-Howard Stark. Industrialist.

-Elizabeth Bronte. U.S State Department.

-Lady Cynthia Darrington. Aviatrix.

-Professor George Edward Challenger. Physician, surgeon, scientist, inventor, explorer, inventor, musician, adventurer.

 

2nd Row (Left to Right)

 

-Mary Jane West. Actress, writer.

-Futura. Dancer.

-Dr Hugo Z. Hackenbush. Vetinarian.

-Corporal Adolf Hitler. Diasbled veteran. Artist.

-Samson Leonhart. Strongman.

-Tira The Terrific. Lion Tamer, dancer.

-Dr Anton Phibes. Musician. Doctor of Music, Theology.

 

3rd Row (Left to Right)

 

-Dr. John Smith. Horologist.

-Josephine Baker. Entertainer.

-Private Joseph Frank Keaton Jnr.

-Dr Lao. Circus Proprietor.

-Alfred E. Neuman. Philosopher

-Katherine Hepburn. Actress.

-Mandrake The Magician.

-Jackie Coogan. Actor.

-Captain Janos Prohaska. Aviator.

-Lili Marleen. Lamplighter.

-Jonathan Brewster. Secondhand Dealer.

-Dr Peter Einstein. Plastic Surgeon.

-Agent X-27 Marie Kolverer. Austrian Secret Service.

-Captain Francesca Cook. Royal Navy. Aviator.

-Howard Hughes. Engineer, aviator, industrialist, motion picture producer.

 

4th Row (Left to Right)

 

-The Amazing Amanda. Circus Aerialist.

-Doctor Clark Savage Jnr. Physician, surgeon, scientist, inventor, explorer, inventor, musician, adventurer.

-The Great Macleod. Circus Knifethrower.

-Maudie Triplett. Diamond Apraiser.

-Lola-Lola. Entertainer.

-Mr Dark. Circus Proprietor.

-Lamont Cranston. Philanthropist.

-Ming The Merciless. Emperor of Mongo.

-Carl Denham. Motion Picture Director

-Doctor Fu Manchu. Physician.

-Buster Keaton. Actor. Director. Writer.

-Professor Thascales. Master horologist.

-Brigitte Helm. Actress.

-Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Author.

-Amy Jolly. Singer.

-Charles Chaplin. Director, writer, actor.

-Senator Charles Foster Kane. United States Senator.

-Mata Hari. Dancer.

-Herbert George Wells. Author. Horologist.

-Captain James Bigglesworth. Special Air Police Aviator.

-Angel. Private Investigator.

 

5th Row (Facade)

 

-Fester Addams. Inventor

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As a mate of mine said, "You know, you really take being silly to new levels..."

 

Reckon so.

 

Having snapped some decent piccys of The Famous Spiegeltent mirrored entertainment pavillion during its later Melbourne Festival season I got to wondering what famous faces it might have played host to over the years since it was built in the 1920s.

 

I've always enjoyed those Warner Brothers cartoons where they threw together caricatures of Hollywood stars and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" with its cast of well-known 'Toons. I'm a particular fan of Alan Moore's "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "Albion" graphic novel pastiches, Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" horror stories, and Philip Jose Farmer's "Riverworld" Science Fiction novels, all of which cheerfully re-assemble fictional and historical characters into enormously unlikely, but enjoyable configurations.

 

I've done pastiche pictures before, mostly in pen and ink, but this is the first time I've tried the trick with Photoshop. Though I have done something thematically similar in the Fantastique Badge Cloak photoset.

 

Getting the characters in perspective was slightly tedious, but finding more or less appropriate hats for those that forgot theirs was just plain fun! There was a lot of mucking about with desaturating and sepia tones, adding noise and blurring, difference clouding and lens flaring. You know the drill.

 

The best part was researching the likely 'celebs' who might have been on the guest list or, indeed, crashed the party.

 

For those of you who get their knickers in a knot over such things...the period is roughly 1915 to 1940 with the most weight of numbers falling around the 1930s...

 

No worries, she'll be right! This is a Creatively Anachronistic Society.

 

Anyway, what can you expect from a picture where Adolf Hitler got cut down to size before he could cause trouble? (Yes, that really is his artwork.) Or where Marlene Dietrich is a quartet, Katy Hepburn and Buster Keaton twinned, and Mae West is in triplicate? And where Citizen Kane won that election by rigging it...

 

For that matter, there are Persons of Power who probably wouldn't even register on film, or who would see to it that any photographs taken of them would never see the light of day.....

 

So if you don't hear from me again you'll know what happened.

 

And copies of the negative are in a safe place....

 

Incidentally, I didn't 'forget' anyone. Just ran out of room!

 

But that's another picture....

 

When I finished this I had to laugh at some of the odd coincidences that I didn't arrange. Orson Welles in the same picture as H. G Wells. Child actor Jackie Coogan appearing as "The Kid" and as Uncle Fester Addams. And, as I've noted in another picture in the Spiegeltent photoset, the original painting on the facade looked like Fester in the first place! It was also wicked discovering Kate Hepburn and Maria from Metropolis having complimentary poses and costumes. Oddities, strange confluences and juxtapositions brought to you from the outer limits of the twilight zone....

 

Oh, and I recently found out that Dietrich actually DID perform at the Spiegeltent! She sang "Falling In Love Again" in the 1930s.

 

Here's a more detailed breakdown of the characters.

 

SOURCES ARCANE, MUNDANE AND WHIMSICAL

 

Front Row (Left To Right)

 

-Detective Chan- Sidney Toler. “Charlie Chan In Honolulu” movie. Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers.

-Chandu The Magician- Bela Lugosi. “Chandu the Magician” movie.

-Lady Jane Greystoke- Andie McDowell. “Greystoke-The Legend Of Tarzan” movie.

-Lord Greystoke/John Clayton- Christopher Lambert. “Greystoke-The Legend Of Tarzan” movie. Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels.

-Howard Stark- Bruce Campbell. Autolycus, King Of Thieves, from “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” with a newsboy cap. I think he makes a fair Tony Stark’s father from the Iron Man comic books.

-Elizabeth Bronte-Yancy Butler. “Witchblade” television adaptation of comic book series. Bronte wielded the Witchblade in the mid 20th Century.

-Lady Cynthia Darrington-Katherine Hepburn. “Christopher Strong” movie.

-Professor George Edward Challenger- Brian Blessed. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger stories.

 

2nd Row (Left To Right)

 

-Mary “Mae” Jane West- Herself.

-Futura- Brigette Helm. “Metropolis” movie. (N.B. “Futura”, in an early script, was the name of the robotrix version of Maria.)

-Dr Hugo Hackenbush- Groucho Marx. “A Day At The Races” movie.

-Corporal Adolf Hitler- Himself. The Son Of Schicklgruber; not half the ratbag he might have been since he got his legs blown off by a howitzer shell in the First World War. Trundling around on his little red invalid’s wagon he sells his mediocre paintings to supplement his army pension.

-Samson Leonhart- Michael J. Anderson. “Carnivale” television series.

-Tira The Terrific- Mae West. “I’m No Angel” movie.

-Dr Anton Phibes- Vincent Price. “The Abominable Dr Phibes” movie.

 

3rd Row (Left To Right)

 

-Dr John Smith- William Hartnell. ‘Doctor Who” television series.

-Josephine Baker- Herself.

-Private Joseph Frank Keaton Jnr. - Buster Keaton in his U.S Army uniform, he served in the SIgnal Corps in World War One, and in World War Two in the California State Guard.

-Dr Lao- Tony Randall. “The Seven Faces Of Dr. Lao” movie. Adapted from the Charles G. Finney novel.

-Alfred E. Neuman. Himself. Founder of Mad Magazine.

-Katherine Hepburn. Herself. Well, actually this is Kate’s Human Moth costume party gown from “Christopher Strong”. It went well with Futura’s outfit.

-Leon Mandrake-Warren Hull. “Mandrake The Magician” movie. Adapted from Lee Falk and Phil Davis’ comic character.

-Jackie Coogan-Himself. “The Kid” movie.

-Captain Janos “Blackhawk” Prohaska- Kirk Alyn. “Blackhawk” movie serial. Adapted from Will Eisner, Chuck Cuidera and Bob Powells’ “Blackhawk” comic book character.

Kirk of course, also played Superman. I did think about having Big Blue or Clark Kent attend but decided I'd save that for a 1940s montage, if I ever get around to doing one.

-Lili Marleen- Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich was one of the most famous singers to cover the most popular anti-war song of all time, originally written by Hans Leip and set to music by Norbert Schultze.

-Jonathan Brewster- Raymond Massey. “Arsenic & Old Lace” movie.

-Dr. Peter Einstein- Peter Lorre. “Arsenic & Old Lace” movie.

-Marie Kolverer- Marlene Dietrich. “Dishonored” movie.

-Captain Francesca “Franky” Cook- Angelina Jolie- “Sky Captain & The World Of Tommorrow” movie.

-Howard Hughes- Himself.

 

4th Row (Left To Right)

 

-The Amazing Amanda- Elizabeth Gracen. “Highlander- The Raven” television series.

-Doctor Clark Savage Jnr- Steve Holland. Modified from the “Flash Gordon” series. It was either him or Ron Ely from the George Pal “Doc Savage- Man Of Bronze” film! Adapted from Lester Dent’s stories.

-The Great MacLeod- Adrian Paul. “Highlander” television series.

-Maudie Triplett- Mae West. “Night After Night” movie.

-Lola-Lola- Marlene Dietrich. “The Blue Angel” movie.

-Mr Dark- Jason Carter. “Babylon Five”s Marcus Cole, with a top hat! Character based on Ray Bradbury’s fantasy novel“Something Wicked This Way Comes”.

-Lamont Cranston- Alec Baldwin. “The Shadow” movie. Adapted from Walter B. Gibson’s stories.

-Ming The Merciless- Max von Sydow. “Flash Gordon” movie. Adapted from Alex Raymond’s comic strip character.

-Carl Denham- Robert Armstrong. “King Kong” movie.

-Doctor Fu Manchu- Boris Karloff. “The Mask Of Fu Manchu” movie. Adapted from Sax Rohmer’s stories.

-Buster Keaton- Himself. Modified from a commercial he did.

-Professor Thascales- Roger “The Master” Delgado. “Doctor Who”.

-Brigette Helm- Herself.

-H.P Lovecraft- Himself.

-Amy Jolly. Singer- Marlene Dietrich. “Morroco” movie.

-Charles Chaplin- Himself. “The Kid” movie.

-Senator Charles Foster Kane- Orson Welles. “Citizen Kane” movie.

-Mata Hari- Herself.

-H.G.Wells- Himself.

-Captain James Bigglesworth- Sub-Lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford.

A World War One ‘Ace’ whom I thought had that ‘Biggles’ look..of Captain W.E. John's immortal aviator.

-Angel- David Boreanz. “Angel” television series.

 

5th Row (Facade)

 

-Fester Addams- Jackie Coogan. “The Addams Family” television series. Adapted from Charles Addams’ cartoons.

 

In homage to the fifty odd unsung cinematographers and studio portraitists who took the original piccys.

          

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Uploaded on January 21, 2007