Black Friday

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Anne Nagel

Published August 15, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Even with almost 100 credits to her name, actress Anne Nagel (1915-1966) may be best known to many Hollywood memorabilia seekers for her often chaotic personal life. Dying at age 50 from cancer, Nagel’s career path was waylaid by the suicide of actor Ross Alexander, her first husband, newsworthy lawsuits and rumored bouts with alcoholism.

Thankfully, old school horror lovers have different specifications for notoriety, becoming enamored with Nagel’s multiple charms through her sunny appearances in a number of beloved, low budget fright flicks. Shining brightly as June Lawrence in Man Made Monster (above), Lenora in The Mad Monster and Mrs. William Saunders in The Mad Doctor of Market Street, she was perhaps given the most to do as doomed gangster’s moll and nightclub performer Sunny Rogers in 1940’s Black Friday.

This flick, which features both Universal genre icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, allows Nagel to play with a full palette of colors. Her character here is both manipulative and sympathetic, radiating with a true sense of bewilderment when her gangster lover reemerges from the dead in the form of a sympathetic college professor, courtesy of deranged doctor Karloff’s reliably bloodless brain surgery skills.

Nicely, as with her other projects, Nagel also embosses the proceedings with a true sense of glamour – providing a nice contrast to the soft innocence projected by Anne Gwynne, the film’s other female co-star.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

Anne Gwynne: Classic Horror’s Most Charming Presence!

Published January 24, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan


“You dare to tamper with my attendants, to send this slinking cat Sonja to worm her way into my confidence?!?” – Princess Aura to Ming re: Anne Gwynne’s evil Lady Sonja, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe

Oh, how Big Gay Horror Fan recalls the many moods of the limbless whores who raised him. One minute they were as benevolent as Jennifer Jones in saint mode, jockeying for an Oscar. The next, they were riding their trembling offspring with passionate insults, draped in their best dominatrix nun garb. Such duality in two 4’10’’ bodies!

annegwynneflash_gordon_fullThat must be why I admire legendary Universal starlet Anne Gwynne (1918-2003) with such passion. Always contagiously beguiling, Gwynne played cowgirls, savage jungle maidens, greedy heirs and evil space conspirators throughout her career. Her charming friendliness often shines above her attempts at deep characterization – though her Lady Sonja in 1940’s Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is a clipped and believably evil delight – but she is always a joy to watch.

Gracing the screen in un-credited roles in 1939, her first major genre participation occurred in 1940 with the above mentioned Flash Gordon and the Boris Karloff-Bela Lugosi vehicle Black Friday. She is sweet as Karloff’s daughter in Friday, but much more memorable horror turns came with 1941’s Black Cat, Weird Woman and House of Frankenstein (both 1944). Frankenstein found her playing the resourceful ingénue, but she was more morally ambiguous in Cat, playing a greedy relative with an expensive agenda. Taking memorability a step further, as Lon Chaney Jr.’s sensitive bride in Woman, she is a confused young islander raised in the practice of voodoo. Once settled into mainland society, she tries to give up the ways that are natural to her (a circumstance that many Big Gay Horror Fans have flirted with over the years)but the vengeful plotting of her husband’s colleague (played with vicious purpose by Gwynne’s friend and fellow genre vixen Evelyn Ankers)sends her retreating back to her former practices. anne gwynne black cat

Of course, as with many performers, the full-bodied roles died away for Gwynne within a matter of years. As Tess Trueheart in 1947’s Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, she is given little to do. Still stunningly beautiful, she does command attention in an enjoyable bit with former co-star Karloff.

Gwynne, whose final genre appearance was in 1958’s Teenage Monster, is also notable for a providing an interesting genealogy of cult entertainment. Her daughter Gwynne Gilford acted in such films as 1972’s Beware! The Blob and 1980’s Fade to Black while grandson Chris Pine is best known as James T. Kirk in the J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films.

gwynne-gruesomeMore information can be gathered on Gwynne at

Meanwhile, Big Gay Horror Fan is always welcoming lovers of the Universal Horror Ladies at!/BigGayHorrorFan!

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE – Big Gay Horror Fan!