TV Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Season Two (2009-2010)


The second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars improves on every aspect of the first. Most of my criticisms of the first season were dealt with throughout this second one. No more lacklustre stories. The show has a new confidence, its creators ready to contribute important stories to the Star Wars mythos. Not only that but the animation has grown in leaps and bounds, making the show even more beautiful than before. The first season is the show’s creators trying the boots on; the second is them running at full speed.

The aspect that is most notably improved from the first season is the disappearance of almost all of the major villains of the saga. Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and General Grievous are rarely, if ever, seen. This is a huge boon to the second season. The new villains that we get are more exciting, vicious, and well executed than these other characters. Not only that, but because these villains don’t appear in the films, there is a genuine sense of drama. You might be watching their final battle. Particular favourites for me continue to be Cad Bane, Pre Vizsla, and Hondo Ohnaka.

Cad Bane continues to thrill in season two.

Cad Bane continues to thrill in season two.

Ahsoka Tano continues to impress this season. The element I was most nervous about going into this show, the concept of Anakin’s own apprentice, continues to be one of my favourite elements of the show. She is a unique character among the Star Wars gallery, and whilst this season never delves too far into her inner psychology or past, she proves to be an adept and fascinating character.

The show's Anakin Skywalker has trumped Hayden Christiansen for me as the definitive version of the character.

The show’s Anakin Skywalker has trumped Hayden Christensen for me as the definitive version of the character.

It also impressed me just how much I like Anakin Skywalker in this show. For me, now, the Anakin of this show is the Anakin that I think about. For me he is the definitive version of this character. You truly see how likeable he is, his friendships with the other Jedi, and just legendary a hero he is in the ongoing war. You get no sense of this in the prequel trilogy, just that he’s a bit whiny and occasionally kills someone, showing the looming dark side. The series thus makes the prequel trilogy retroactively that much better, expanding on elements of the character that should have been in the prequel trilogy.

On the whole, the thing that I like most about this series is that it proves that the prequel trilogy era has some worthy stories and contributions to the overall canon. For years I hated the prequel era, based solely on the films. But after watching these first two seasons of The Clone Wars, I have nothing but love for this era. It truly is one of the most dynamic and exciting times in the Star Wars canon. The storytelling has the potential to be top-notch, and it often is in this show.

"Children of the Force" sees Cad Bane kidnapping force-sensitive children so Darth Sidious can train them as Sith Lords.

“Children of the Force” sees Cad Bane kidnapping force-sensitive children so Darth Sidious can train them as Sith Lords.

The opening trilogy of episodes, “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force” fulfil the season one finale’s promise of Cad Bane. In this trilogy he truly makes his presence known to the Jedi at large, and proves once again that he is one of the most exciting and promising original characters from the show. You see in these three thrilling episodes just how much of a match he is. I particularly liked the sequence in which Cad Bane and his droid army fight Anakin and his clones in zero gravity.

"Weapons Factory" and "Brain Invaders" gives Ahsoka Tano and Bariss Offee a chance to shine amidst the chaos of the Geonosian campaign.

“Weapons Factory” and “Brain Invaders” gives Ahsoka Tano and Bariss Offee a chance to shine amidst the chaos of the Geonosian campaign.

The season’s high point comes in the form of a four-episode story arc dealing with the Geonosian campaign. Like the Ryloth trilogy from the first season, it shows in minute detail the entirety of the campaign from several different perspectives, and each episode makes its own great story in the larger scheme of the plot. However, in animation, plotting, and design this trilogy completely blows Ryloth’s out of the water. “Landing at Point Rain” has become my favourite episode of the series. It’s basically the show’s take on Apocalypse Now (1979) and you can feel the imprint of Vietnam War cinema all over it. The battles in this episode outdo every other battle the show has detailed so far. There are moments that will take your breath away. Non-stop action! “Legacy of Terror” and “Brain Invaders,” the latter half of the story arc, is a mish-mash of Aliens (1986) and the zombie cinema of George A. Romero. They’re fun, scary, and intense. You can tell just how much fun the creators of the show had. The story arc also sees Jedi Luminara Unduli returning, and she’s well used here. Her apprentice Bariss Offee is in tow, another great character. However, the arc’s greatest strength is Ahsoka Tano – you really get to see how proficient she is as a Jedi here. Tano fans will find these few episodes among their favourites.

General Grievous returns in the great episode "Grievous Intrigue."

General Grievous returns in the great episode “Grievous Intrigue.”

The season also sees General Grievous return in a two-episode story arc. This story arc seems to realise the dramatic downfall of using the film’s villains. Because these characters appear in Revenge of the Sith (2005), it’s very clear they’ll survive the series. However, this two-parter doesn’t suffer from this problem, and it’s great seeing Grievous strike again. The second of the two episodes, “The Deserter,” is one of the better episodes focusing on the lives of clones as Captain Rex finds a deserter clone, and together they discuss the realities of war and the individuality and purpose of clones in general. It’s thought provoking and emotional, and makes for a great episode.

The Mandalore Trilogy sees the introduction of Pre Vizsla and the villainous Death Watch.

The Mandalore Trilogy sees the introduction of Pre Vizsla and the villainous Death Watch.

The Mandalore trilogy, in which Obi-Wan Kenobi is assigned to protect Duchess Satine from assassination on her home planet is a great story, and provides some rare character development for Obi-Wan as we delve into the pasts of these characters. The trilogy also introduces the powerful Death Watch, a great new set of villains lead by Pre Vizsla, voiced by Jon Favreau. These Mandalorian warriors are a great match for the Jedi, and whilst the trilogy doesn’t completely fulfil the potential of this idea, I am sure we will see the Death Watch return to trouble our heroes again.

Hondo Ohnaka returns in "Bounty Hunters," a remake of the classic film Seven Samurai (1954).

Hondo Ohnaka returns in “Bounty Hunters,” a remake of the classic film Seven Samurai (1954).

Season two also produces a great one-off in the episode “Bounty Hunters,” which is a remake of the classic Japanese film Seven Samurai (1954) directed by Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa was a major influence on George Lucas and his film The Hidden Fortress (1958) provided inspiration for Star Wars (1977). The episode shares much of what made Seven Samurai such a brilliant film – great characterization and thrilling action. The episode also sees the return of villain Hondo Ohnaka, a charismatic and treacherous villain. It’s always fun seeing him at work.

Boba Fett returns to exact revenge on Mace Windu in the season finale.

Boba Fett returns to exact revenge on Mace Windu in the season finale.

The season finishes strongly with an excellent three-part storyline that sees the return of Boba Fett and his quest for revenge against Mace Windu, who killed his father Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones (2002). I was a bit weary about these episodes, as one of the things I love about Boba Fett is his mystery. It’s what makes him my favourite Star Wars character. Seeing his origins in Attack of the Clones really annoyed me, but once again this show makes the prequels retroactively that much better. Boba Fett and Aurra Sing make for some captivating villains, full of complexity and nuance. I hope we see more of Boba Fett in future seasons of The Clone Wars.

The Clone Wars sophomore season disregarded all of the problems of the first season and just provided home run after home run. Whilst the show still doesn’t develop an overall storyline that carries the season, the individual storylines are are always at least good and often great or outstanding. The show is progressing with a confidence that wasn’t there in the first season. Hopefully with the possible addition of an overall storyline to each season, The Clone Wars can continue it’s incredible success.


Book Review: Double Indemnity (1943) by James M. Cain


Double Indemnity Cover

I had killed a man, for money and a woman. I didn’t have the money and I didn’t have the woman.

When I heard Fred MacMurray say that line at the beginning of Billy Wilder’s classic film noir, Double Indemnity (1944), I didn’t realise that it was one of the few instances in the film where quotes were taken directly from the pages of James M. Cain’s novel. For me, these two sentences really sum up everything about film noir, and go someway towards a definition of the genre. That film was my entrance into the world of film noir, so it was only fitting that the novel upon which it was based should be my entrance into literary noir.

Double Indemnity (1943) concerns itself with a plot by insurance investigator Walter Huff and the femme fatale Phyllis Nirdlinger to kill her husband for the insurance pay out, which will be even more if they manage to make it look like an accidental death on a train. These deaths are so rare that Phyllis would get a double indemnity payment. As Walter falls under Phyllis’ command due to lust, things get more and more dangerous, for all three involved.

Double Indemnity Poster

The film version of Double Indemnity is one of my all-time favourite Hollywood classics, so I wanted to read the original novel.

The first impression I had when reading the book was just how closely Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler had adapted it into screenplay – that was, until Walter and Phyllis kill her husband. After this point, the novel veered off the expected course for me, and that was wonderful. Having seen the film many times I didn’t think I’d see anything new in the novel, but to have a completely different ending was a wonderful surprise. Those who worry about that, having seen and loved the film, shouldn’t, as the ending is still very much in the spirit of the characters and is a logical conclusion, as is the film’s ending.

James M. Cain’s story is so well plotted and crafted it’s hard to fault it. He is truly a master craftsman – every event in the story feels like a logical outcome of the character’s innate desires and lusts. His characters are brilliantly drawn and complex. Walter and Phyllis are wonderfully written, and you really feel the sense of doom that falls over their relationship. While Keyes, who was played by Edward G. Robinson in the film, has a more minimal role in the book, Lola, Phyllis’s step-daughter, has a much more expanded role. Her affair with Walter is captivating and heart-breaking. Cain’s spare, pulpy prose is the essence of noir, and it drives the novel and it’s characters foreward with drama and strength. A novel that would be 300-400 pages in the hands of any other writer is stripped down to its essence by Cain. The writing is utterly captivating.

James M. Cain is considered one of the founders of crime noir fiction.

James M. Cain is considered one of the founders of crime noir fiction.

After reading Cain’s novel I am very much interested in reading both more of Cain’s oeuvre and literary noir in general. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) and Mildred Pierce (1941) are the next books I wish to read by Cain. The Philip Marlowe novels of Raymond Chandler, particularly The Big Sleep (1939) and The Long Goodbye (1953), as well as the novel Galveston (2010) by Nic Pizzolatto are also on the list.

I cannot recommend the novel enough, both for those who love the film and for those who like crime fiction / noir in general. It’s a nasty story about nasty people, and in that respect ticks all the boxes you could expect from a novel of it’s kind. Recommended.


TV Review: Mr. Robot, Season One (2015)


Mr. Robot Poster

Mr. Robot, at its core, sounds like the plot from a trashy young adult novel. A hacker with debilitating social anxieties decides to start a worldwide revolution by destroying the evil corporation that killed his father. He’s joined on the way by a group of kooky hackers who all have personal stakes in the work.

But really, Mr. Robot is something much more than this description would make you believe. It’s a searing character study, a political manifesto, a gripping thriller. It’s the perfect combination of Taxi Driver (1976), Fight Club (1999), and The Social Network (2010). You could probably reach further back and draw links to Albert Camus’ classic novel The Outsider (1942).

Elliot Alderson, as played by Rami Malek, is a complex and captivating lead character.

Elliot Alderson, as played by Rami Malek, is a complex and captivating lead character.

The acting is absolutely superb, with a star-making performance from series lead Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson and the always provocative Christian Slater as Mr. Robot. Malek’s Elliot is an incredible character, and easily one of the most complex and interesting characters to debut in American television this year. Awkward, full of anxiety, but ultimately at the end of the day one of the purest and most honest characters, it’s hard not to sympathise with Elliot. Slater’s Mr. Robot is reminiscent of the darker side of political revolutionaries – the alluring, intoxicating power politicians such as Hitler offered. Mr. Robot offer Elliot a chance to be someone special, by devoting himself entirely to Mr. Robot’s plans. It’s a disturbing performance and one of Slater’s more memorable roles.

Even less-important characters, who may only appear in one or two episodes, leave a searing mark on the viewer. Fernando Vera, as played by Elliot Villar, who could be considered on of the series’ “villains,” is absolutely gripping. His first appearance on the show particularly, in which he converses with Elliot after (unbeknownst to Elliot) beating and raping Elliot’s drug dealer, is terrifying and absorbing. His monologue on the nature of power and hate is one of the series’ very best scenes. Elliot Villar is an actor to watch out for, he’s got great success waiting for him.

Eliot Villar delivers one of the show's most brilliant scenes.

Eliot Villar delivers one of the show’s most brilliant scenes.

Really though, it’s Sam Esmail’s writing that shines through the most. His engaging characters never fail to grip the audience. At the core, this series is a character study. Of course, the plot is important, but what will keep you watching episode after episode is just how brilliantly written these characters are. Elliot and Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) in particular grabbed me. They aren’t characters you will forget easily. Esmail’s story also fully follows up and mediates on the socio-political aspects of this revolution. In this respect it deserves a spot next to The Wire (2002-2008), Homeland (2011-now), and Orange is the New Black (2013-now) in it’s fierce rendition and criticism of modern-day American life.

Later episodes of the series unfortunately falter somewhat as it becomes too caught up in the plot of the series, moving focus away from Elliot and his world and towards his friends and co-workers, who are much more involved in later events than he is. Still, these episodes are very well written, but they can’t hope to match the quality of the first five or six episodes. Nonetheless the series has a fascinating conclusion with lots of twists and turns that will make you want to watch the entire series again to see what you missed. While these twists aren’t original (as the plot isn’t either), they are so well executed that it’s hard to slam the writing.

fsociety, the name of the group of hackers that Mr. Robot leads, utilises much of the imagery of Occupy Wall Street and the graphic novel V for Vendetta.

fsociety, the name of the group of hackers that Mr. Robot leads, utilises much of the imagery of Occupy Wall Street and the graphic novel V for Vendetta.

Sam Esmail’s debut television show is gripping and fascinating. It’s a show that has something genuinely worthy to say of American politics, and I look forward to seeing any academic reactions to this particular strand of development. Whilst it may falter slightly in the last few episodes, Mr. Robot stands as one of the best new shows of the year. I can’t wait to see where it goes next.


IT’S ALIVE! The Universal Monsters Saga, Part 3: The Cat and the Canary (1927)


Welcome to the second part of my new special column series, IT’S ALIVE! The Universal Monsters Saga, in which I talk about each of the classic Universal Monsters films from the 1920s—1950s. Today we look at the masterful The Cat and the Canary (1927), directed by Paul Leni. If you wish to have a look at past articles, please click here. Enjoy!

The Cat and the Canary Poster

Universal Pictures’ The Cat and the Canary is altogether something different from their earlier silent efforts. First of all, it goes deeper and farther into the classic gothic, utilising the German expressionist background of it’s director, Paul Leni. Secondly, it adds a dash of comedy to the proceedings. Whereas The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925) were mostly serious affairs, The Cat and the Canary is easily as funny as it is spooky and creepy. And finally, it flirts with the idea of the supernatural, something new to Universal’s range of horror films. As such, the film has an entirely unique flavour among the earlier Universal horror films, despite the enormous influence it would hold over the horror genre and, specifically, “the old dark house” films that would become a regular feature of horror cinema. Take my hand as we explore the dusty, cobwebbed rooms and draughty hallways of the West mansion.


Paul Leni was invited over from Germany to direct The Cat and the Canary.

Paul Leni was invited over from Germany to direct The Cat and the Canary.

Carl Laemmle took note of director Paul Leni’s magnificent talent when he saw his film Waxworks (1924). He was particularly impressed by the balance of both horror and comedy. In the United States there had been a flowering trend of successful horror / comedy films based on Broadway plays, including The Ghost Breaker (1922), Puritan Passions (1923), The Monster (1925), The Bat (1926), and The Gorilla (1927), and Laemmle felt it would be common sense for Universal to do their own take on this growing list of films. Laemmle invited Paul Leni over to Universal Pictures to become an in-house director there, beginning with an adaptation of the popular play The Cat and the Canary (1922) by John Willard. A screenplay was completed by Alfred A. Cohn and Robert F. Hill. Leni accepted, and by doing so brought a very important ingredient to America that would prove massively important in the future success of Universal’s horror films – German expressionism.

The exaggerated camera work and sets of the German expressionist films, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was brought to The Cat and the Canary.

The exaggerated camera work and sets of the German expressionist films, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was brought to The Cat and the Canary.

German expressionism was a cinematic movement in the late 1910s to early 1930s that focused on psychologically complex, dark stories. The supernatural was not entirely uncommon in these films, and they braved much more sadistic and supernatural stories that American cinema only flirted with at the time. The visuals of these films were entirely unlike anything else in cinema, with distorted camera work and dark gothic imagery. The pre-eminent works of the movement included The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Paul Leni’s own Waxworks (1925), and Metropolis (1927). Many critics place the genre as a fallout of the economic disparity that befell Germany following World War I. It would make Germany easily the most important country for filmmaking in the era, although German expressionism practically ended when the Nazis rose to power in 1933.

Laura La Plante was cast in the lead part of Annabelle West, with Creighton Hale cast as the bumbling comedic hero of the film Paul Jones. Arthur Edmund Carewe, who had appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) as Inspector Ledoux, returned for a small but memorable role as Harry, Annabelle’s cousin.

The film's surrealistic opening is an example of the expressionism Paul Leni imprinted into the film.

The film’s surrealistic opening is an example of the expressionism Paul Leni imprinted into the film.

Leni turned the comedic and suspenseful original play into a masterful film of expressionist vision. He did, however, tone down the German expressionist qualities quite a bit – had he not American audiences might have completely rejected the film, as it was so unlike anything in mainstream silent Hollywood cinema. However, the fundamental aspects of German expressionism remain; dark, gothic sets, lots and lots of inky dark shadow, chiaroscuro, and superb stylization. The film also has a startlingly surreal opening, something audiences would’ve been unfamiliar with, of the moody mansion superimposed with medicine bottles trapping the soon to be deceased Cyrus West. Cinematographer Gilbert Warrenton went on record saying that, to achieve more authentic acting from the cast, Paul Leni used a gong to shock the actors in moments of horror. Leni would also design the sets which were built by Charles D. Hall, who also designed sets for Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931). Leni made these sets to be extremely radicalized and stylized. He wrote:

It is not extreme reality that the camera perceives, but the reality of the inner event, which is more profound, effective and moving than what we see through everyday eyes.


Cyrus West, a rich old man who claims to have been driven mad by his greedy heirs, dies in his old mansion overlooking the Hudson. His will dictates that it can only be read twenty years later. His heirs gather for the reading of the will, and are surprised to find out the whole lot of his fortune is going to Annabelle West (Laura La Plante), the most distant of his relatives. However, she must first be proved sane by a visiting psychiatrist, otherwise all the money goes to a second heir in a sealed envelope.

The looming menace of the house, manifested in a hairy, claw-like hand, prepares to kill Crosby the lawyer.

The looming menace of the house, manifested in a hairy, claw-like hand, prepares to kill Crosby the lawyer.

Soon, a guard (George Siegmann) arrives saying that that an escaped lunatic is prowling the grounds of the mansion – and that he’ll kill anyone he sees. Crosby (Tully Marshall), the lawyer thinks that, due to the fact he discovered the sealed envelope opened, that one of the heirs is planning harm to come to Annabelle. Just as he is about to warn her, a secret passage is opened and a clawed hand pulls him inside. The heirs all think she is clearly insane.

The clawed hand prepares to steal the West jewels from Annabelle.

The clawed hand prepares to steal the West diamonds from Annabelle.

As Annabelle is sleeping, a clawed hand appears from the wall and takes the diamonds she is wearing. She calls everyone in – they all think her insane – but she and her cousin Harry (Arthur Edmund Carewe) discover a secret passage way. Inside is the dead body of Crosby the lawyer, who falls down stark dead. Everyone runs in hysterics. When Paul Jones (Creighton Hale) and Annabelle return to search the body for the missing envelope, they find that it is gone. Paul goes inside the passage and is lost instantly. Paul finds a disfigured, cloaked figure – the escaped lunatic? – and does battle with him. Paul is knocked out, but he comes around and saves Annabelle from being killed by the figure. The police arrive and arrest the lunatic, only to discover it is Annabelle’s cousin Charlie (Forrest Stanley), with the guard an accomplice. They aimed to drive Annabelle insane so they could get the inheritance. Paul and Annabelle snuggle on the sofa and decide to live together in the house and share the inheritance.


Paul Leni's direction and Gilbert Warrenton's cinematography provides a palpably eerie atmosphere.

Paul Leni’s direction and Gilbert Warrenton’s cinematography provides a palpably eerie atmosphere.

I had heard of The Cat and the Canary many, many times in my life in conjunction with the early days of Universal horror. As I understood it, the film was only a relatively minor work in the Universal canon of horror, but was I mistaken! Finally having seen it, it’s easily one of the best silent horror films I’ve seen, as well as one of the funniest. Whilst never genuinely scary, like The Phantom of the Opera it is a film full of foreboding atmosphere and creepy camera work.

By all rights the film shouldn’t be as good as it is, being part of a string of largely forgettable comedy / horror silent films. But Paul Leni’s direction elevates the film to something else; as such, it’s easily the best of these silent horror comedies. His brilliant use of lighting and the wonderful sets he designed add so much atmosphere and creeping horror to the proceedings. Adding a dash of comedy, particularly in the character of Paul Jones, only serves to accentuate the definite atmosphere and the entrancing mood of the film.

The sets of the West mansion provide an eerie backdrop for the events of the film.

The sets of the West mansion provide an eerie backdrop for the events of the film.

Also notable is just how the film transcends it’s theatrical roots. Whilst other films of the era, and indeed other Universal horror films, would struggle to adapt their respective plays to film (making them appear rather stagey), The Cat and the Canary does away with its stage origins and fully utilises and explores the wonderfully gothic environments of the house it takes place in.

Interestingly, it’s the first Universal horror film that disregards Europe as a setting. Both The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera are set in France, whereas The Cat and the Canary is set in New York or New Jersey. Whilst Universal is beginning to experiment with bringing horror to the United States here, it cannot confidently escape the European roots of the genre; this can be seen in Universal (wisely) placing it’s faith in Paul Leni’s direction, which adds a suitably Germanic experience to the film, even if toned down from the true experiences of German expressionism. It’s the first step in creating a genuine American horror, although this true geographical genre wouldn’t really find it’s footing until the late 1950s.

The film is notable for flirting with the supernatural, though the studio was "afraid" to fully commit to the concept.

The film is notable for flirting with the supernatural, though the studio was “afraid” to fully commit to the concept.

It’s worth noting that the film very briefly flirts with the supernatural – that the ghost of Cyrus West haunts the house, setting the mood nicely. Whilst Universal wouldn’t go fully supernatural until Dracula (1931), you can see the studio testing the waters, even if it doesn’t have the full confidence to jump in the deep end.

The film is also remarkably well paced, efficient in both plot and action, moving things quickly. In brief moments, it does slow down a bit, but only for added atmosphere. These moments are always startlingly brilliant, particularly in the beginning when the camera will pan over the various sets. It’s part of the reason why it’s a better film than The Hunchback of Notre Dame; it moves with a pace, vitality, and sure-footedness that Hunchback lacks.

Martha Mattox is a particular delight as the creepy Mammy Pleasant.

Martha Mattox is a particular delight as the creepy Mammy Pleasant.

The acting in the film is also absolutely top-notch. Laura La Plante is wonderful in the lead role of Annabelle, effectively portraying a character that is here out of respect to her father, and not out of interest for money as with so many of the other characters. Creighton Hale is honest, sweet, and over-all clumsy in his portrayal of Paul Jones, providing comedic relief that sweetens the deal. Arthur Edmund Carewe lends the gravitas that he brought to Ledoux in Phantom to the role of Harry, adding a sinister dash to the proceedings. And no one will soon forget Martha Mattox as the creepy Mammy Pleasant. Gertrude Astor and Flora Finch also make the hilarious duo of Cecily and Susan. Lucian Littlefield is startlingly Caligari-esque as Dr. Ira Lazar. Forrest Stanley does a good job skulking around on screen as the villain, but ultimately his makeup isn’t too scary or memorable – any creepiness in the film is provided by the brilliant cinematography, sets, and direction.

The Cat and the Canary is marvellously creepy and atmospheric. It’s a film to get lost in on a hazy afternoon. Whilst it can’t possibly match the epic scope of The Phantom of the Opera, it can match it in artistry and ambition. I cannot recommend this film highly enough to both lovers of silent and horror cinema.


Next time on IT’S ALIVE! The Universal Monsters Saga, Paul Leni will be returning to direct an acclaimed adaptation of a classic French novel. The visage of the main character would go down not only in cinematic history but in pop culture at large – it inspired one of the greatest villains ever created. And the film would also introduce a man behind the scenes that would become integral to the success of the studio’s horror films, ingraining them forever in the history of cinema – Jack Pierce.