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!