"My wife has good taste. She has seen very few of my movies." Boris Karloff Arts and Entertainment's (A&E) long running serious Biography (1987 - ) have done quite a few episodes so it is easy to find one on a favorite actor or director. With a running time of 45 minutes I knew it was not going to have enough information on Boris that I did not already know, but it was fun to watch and like all of these I learned a few tidbits. As usual with this series it does a condensed version of his life starting from his difficult childhood as a William Henry Pratt, to his struggling days as a touring actor in Canada, his early days in the silent cinema and his successes and typecasting after Frankenstein (1931). He has done so many movies that if you are fan you are bound to notice many missing from this documentary. Good to see The Comedy of Terrors mentioned though.
One of the benefits of documentaries is to see new footage of stars saying nice things about the actor. Here we have Carol Burnett, Ron Chaney, Bela Lugosi Jr., Roddy McDowall, Robert Wise, Sara Karloff, Peter Bogdanovich (IMDB misses this one for the documentary; Peter directed Boris in Targets (1968) how many extras is this man in?) and several others. Everyone, of course, has nothing but nice things to say about him. I do wonder why he was married so many times (five or six; one they state they are not quite sure on).
One issue that is annoying because of the documentaries age is that the scenes of the films shown are from pretty bad copies (possibly public domain for the older movies). A later filmed documentary (literally in a few years) would have access to restored films and would look a lot more polished that what is shown here.
I do think fans of Boris would enjoy this as well as fans of the classic horror genre. I certainly liked it.
You can find this biography on two DVDs: Biography Boris Karloff: The Gentle Monster from A&E or on the Heroes of Horror R1 Image release. Both are OOP, but if you can find either one pick it up. Though specifically if you can find the Heroes of Horror pick it up. It is an awesome biography set. Why are both OOP?
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