Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Most adorable Edgar Allan Poe ever!

With this post I hope to settle a dispute that has long haunted the blog-o-sphere... what is the cutest portrayal of author Edgar Allan Poe in film?

Before you start emailing me your nominees, just check out this screen shot from Frank Capra's The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957):

The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays was an entry in the Bell Science series of educational programs made for the classroom in the late 1950s.

Apparently director Frank Capra (yes, that Frank Capra) felt that the behavior of certain sub-atomic particles might be somewhat of a dry topic for the intended audience of school children.

So what better way to reign in the kiddies' interest than to add some whimsical marionettes based on characters from popular culture...characters that would already be known to the youngsters, and keep them entertained while they learned.

So who did they come up with? Why none other than authors Charles Dickens...

...Fyodor Dostoyevsky...

...and the cutest Edgar Allan Poe ever!

Now at this point you may wonder just what the hell they were thinking when they arrived at these three literary icons as the magic missing ingredient to hold their young audience riveted.

I don't know either. But look--Edgar's raven has eyelashes!

The science portion of the program is hosted live by actual scientist Frank Baxter and actor Richard Carlson, who has appeared in tons of television and film, including one of my favorite guilty pleasures, the spooky camp classic Tormented (1960), which I'll be visiting in a later post.

The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays can be found on DVD here. If you enjoy Disney's educational films (True-Life Adventures, the Man in Space series, etc.) this may be right up your alley. The program includes great "cartoon-modern" style animated segments by Shamus Culhane Productions, and the marionettes are from Bil and Cora Baird, who (according to Wikipedia) also provided puppets for the cult TV show Dark Shadows.


Rob Velella said...

Good lord, look at those eyelashes on Poe!

I can't comment on the other two choices, but Poe isn't such a bad one. On of Poe's longest later works was "Eureka: A Prose Poem" (1848), which was a pseudo-scientific explanation of his theory on the origins of the universe. Poe discusses all kinds of phenomena in physics - including an early version of what would become black holes.

Poe likely would have been proud of being a part of this production. Though I think he might have questioned the eyelashes!

Belle Dee said...

That is the cutest Poe ever! He has Bambi eyes!