It seems like only yesterday that Big Gay Horror Fan was fighting off the advances of some scientifically induced, whip smacking monster. Alas, after asking for a slight commitment – I totally scared HIM off!
The elegant, eternally eclectic Miriam Hopkins (1902-1972) must surely have known what that was like.
As prostitute-showgirl Ivy Pearson in the classic 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hopkins radiates with frank sexuality during her first encounter with the kind Dr. Jekyll. But as Mr. Hyde’s personality bursts forth with a vengeful emphasis on Ivy, Hopkins reacts with deep layers of majestic, eternally wounded fright. The scenes where Ivy-Hopkins endures Jekyll’s (a superior, Academy Award winning Fredric March) psychotic attentions still resonate with gut wrenching power over 80 years later.
’18 years later, Hopkins joined the ranks of superior supporters in 1949’s The Heiress, a gothic adaption of Henry James’ Washington Square. As (Academy Award winning) Olivia de Havilland’s seemingly air light aunt, Lavinia Penniman, Hopkins delivers scene stealing antics. Here, she paints a woman filled with frivolity but wise to the ways of the world. At the mercy of her rich brother’s 19th Century kindness (a fact the intuitive Hopkins uses to underscore many of her scenes) Hopkins-Penniman encourages shy de Havilland’s romance with a money seeking playboy played by Montgomery Clift. Sure that a little compromise is always necessary for happiness, Hopkins effectively shows concerned shock when de Havilland’s abandoned heroine reacts with steely resolve at the film’s door barring conclusion.
In famed science fiction anthology show The Outer Limits, Hopkins (in one of her final roles) showed another side of her talents with the 1964 episode “Don’t Open Until Doomsday”. As the demented and coquettish Mary Kry, Hopkins, whom had first gained fame for her committed performances in a series of Pre-Code films, is both childlike and savagely determined. Determined to rescue her fiancé from a space-controlled box, that he was sucked into on the eve of their wedding years before, Hopkins-Kry willing traps a young couple in her chilling world of fantasy and alien abduction.
Be sure to check back in the future, as Big Gay Horror Fan (www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan) frequently exposes the creative energy of the grand femmes of horror.