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COUNTERPUNCH LETTERS : 'Ed Wood' Offers Admiration for Bela the Monster

November 07, 1994

In response to the Counterpunch " 'Wood' Tarnishes a Good Man--Lugosi" (Oct. 24) by Lisa Mitchell: I respect and sympathize with Bela Lugosi Jr.'s concerns as to how his father was portrayed in the motion picture "Ed Wood," being a Lugosi fan myself. I had my own doubts about the cursing scenes, but, having seen the movie, I must say it works--they immediately draw you to him. It takes him from being an unapproachable "monster" icon of the screen to being someone with whom we can identify.

The movie does take liberties with Lugosi's life, but then we must remember that this is a movie for entertainment purposes. It is a totally different milieu from a biography or documentary. It succeeds on a human level that will, hopefully, inspire people to follow up on its subject matter and get more accurate details.

It's interesting that Lugosi Jr. sees disrespect when Lugosi is kicked out of rehab, as if the movie were suggesting that he didn't have the courage to finish the treatment. What I saw was a clinic that was an enemy to Lugosi, a cruel and uncaring system that would kick this man out because of insurance reasons.

"Ed Wood" leaves you with a caring, hopeful and loving portrait, not only of a friendship between Wood and Lugosi but most of all of a man who was a great actor but a human one.


Los Angeles


Mitchell's claim that "Ed Wood" tarnishes the memory of Lugosi touches upon a wider issue--the now common use of gutter language in films. Apparently Lugosi didn't speak in this manner, so why does it appear in the film? And why does a fine actor like Martin Landau agree to use it? Even more puzzling: What possessed Katharine Hepburn to use the F-word in "Love Affair"? What does such an esteemed lady gain by this?

This handful of grubby little words has long since lost any shock value. Let's call a moratorium. Better still, let's go for words of wit, style, pungency, acridity and luminescence.



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