Friday, March 4, 2011

Director george waGGNer

For the past several weeks/months I've seen this name pop up in the credits as the director of various MAVERICK, CHEYENNE and WAGON TRAIN episodes. Yes, the fact that it was spelled george waGGner caught my eye. I never thought much about it until I started watching some of the extras on the Universal Legacy Series dvd set of the classic horror film THE WOLF MAN with Lon Chaney Jr and I saw this name again...this time spelled George Waggner. I put two and two together and discovered that they were and are one the same. So, I wonder, why hasn't this man gotten the acclaim he deserves for helming the best ever of the werewolf films or the recognition that other notable horror film directors got...such as James Whale (FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN) or Tod Browning (DRACULA, FREAKS)? Is it because he continued to direct almost every project...movie or tv show that was offered him or because scandal seemed to elude him like Whale whose sexual persuasion, some say, ended his career prematurely or like Browning who's movie FREAKS is now a classic, but at the time cost him dearly professionally? waGGner should be mentioned in the same breath as Whale and Browning as he, like them, helmed one of Universal's major triumvirates of horror and produced a character that everyone is still interested in and still talking about some 70 years later.

waGGner did direct some other films of note...THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN with John Wayne sidekicked by Oliver Hardy (yes that Oliver Hardy) and OPERATION PACIFIC also with the Duke.

And kind of like waGGner the other great Universal horror director Karl Freund (The Mummy) went on to be involved with all kind of genres and ended up, like waGGner, doing episodic tv work...but in the great scheme of things Freund made more movies that are known today, than wagGGner, but as a cinematographer not as a director.

2 comments:

Tom B. said...

You can't miss his name when watching the credits as those GG's pop right up at you. Probably why he had it listed that way.

BHC said...

Great to see you blogging again, Johnny! I'd never heard of waGGner until your post, but will watch for his name from now on.