Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Dark Shadows Daybook: DECEMBER 30


Taped on this date in 1968: Episode 662

Driven by portents of Victoria’s hanging in the past, Barnabas finds himself chronoported back to the year 1796 to prevent it. Briefly and painfully reunited with her in his cell, Barnabas goes on to encounter Nathan Forbes. Threatened to recant his testimony against Victoria, Forbes follows the path of history and prepares a crossbow bolt for Barnabas.

Nestled deep inside the series, right about at the halfway point, rests a perfect gem. The DARK SHADOWS movie isn’t necessarily HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS. For me, it’s made from episodes 662-666. Although it relies on milestones of Barnabas’ history, the “clip show” of episode 661 catches up viewers as to the events that he will alter in his mission through time. Other than a flashback to the 1940’s in the Leviathan sequence, this is the shortest substantive time trip in the series, and as a story, is far ahead of when it was written. Who doesn’t have the fantasy of going back to change traumatic, past events? Although Barnabas can’t stop his mother’s death, he can both exact extra vengeance on Forbes and save Victoria. It’s a perfectly Cyranoesque sequence, and the poignancy of his bravery is heightened by the fact that for all appearances, he’s just doing it as a friend.

Carolyn Groves, Joan Bennett and the cast of "Pleasure of His Company," 1960.

The brief appearance of Carolyn Groves as the third Victoria Winters is another highlight. No, we don’t have the the double-blind of seeing the actresses try the scenes side-by-side, and maybe I’m being blinded by novelty, but I’m nutty about her. She combines the fine-boned aristocracy of Moltke and the keen sense of awareness of Betsy Durkin. Beloved by viewers of the film THE POUND, where she played the “Pedigreed Bitch” alongside a young Robert Downey, Jr. in a heartwarming prison sequence, Carolyn Groves has a distressingly spare CV, although she also appeared in the Broadway play, THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY with Joan Bennett in 1960. She is generally known as a stage actress, on and off-Broadway, but Groves can also be glimpsed in the film version of John Guare’s SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION.

Carolyn Groves and Robert Downey Sr. on the set of POUND.
As Victoria Winters, Groves has an immediate chemistry with Jonathan Frid and projects determination and warmth as the character faces her darkest hour. She oozes an unusual degree of sensuality for the show, starting from the establishing shot of her prone, where she looks for all the world like DARK SHADOWS’ first Bond girl. Following Durkin and Alexandra Moltke, it almost seems as if the character is not just changing actresses. It’s as if she’s evolving to an increasingly mature woman.

Yes. I find her a delight. Because of her work, Chanty Binx. Because of her work, dammit.

This also marks the seventh episode directed by Dan Curtis, himself. He would direct this flashback personally, giving it even more of the feel of a DARK SHADOWS movie. Considering that ‘horror director’ would be the title he’d wear as much as producer as time went on, I think these early moments are important to note.

On this day in 1968, Frank Sinatra recorded the song, “My Way,” after allegedly reacting to the song with a characteristic, “What is this ‘and now, the end is near’ crap?”

Oh, just destiny. Just destiny.

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