FRANKENSTEIN (1931) July 2nd 1977 00.25-01.35
‘Haven’t you ever wanted to do anything that was dangerous?’
Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive)
I didn’t watch it.
Just pause for a moment, dear reader, to reflect on exactly what that means. To today’s Skyplusing, netflixing, i-playering, rapidsharing, youtubing, blu-ray buying generation it means absolutely nothing. In our world it has become almost impossible to ‘miss’ something you want to see – everything (or almost everything) is always available somewhere, somehow. But this was 1977. I wouldn’t own a video recorder for another decade. And in 1977, nobody owned them, and there were no digital channels to endlessly repeat everything on a loop cycle forever.
No, I didn’t watch it, and that meant that, as my fannish obsession rapidly overtook me, I had no idea when, if ever, I might have another chance to see James Whale’s masterful 1931 Frankenstein. In fact BBC2 re-ran many of the Universal classics in a much less well-remembered season in 1983, two years after these double bills seemed to have come to a natural end. However, I spent the long post-A level pre-degree Summer of 1983 unsuccessfully Kerouacing my way across France, spectacularly failing to get off with all those free and easy Brigitte Bardot lookalikes my over fertile imagination had conjured up in combination with the possibility that being barely able to speak their language would make me oddly intriguing and irresistible.
I have a feeling the infant Channel 4 also ran a series of classic horror movies on a Friday night in the mid 80s sometime which would almost certainly have been my first encounter with the film. But that’s six, maybe seven years later. Seven years before I got my second chance, by which time I was a longhaired student living in a scummy shared flat in Northern Ireland getting bladdered on Guinness and Concorde English wine and worshipping at the shrines of Joyce and Orwell rather than Karloff and Lugosi. The obsessive and self absorbed 12 year old boy from the summer of 77 to whom seeing the film would have really meant something had long since ceased to exist. The world by then was an utterly different place. All of which makes for a salutary lesson in life that opportunities are there to be taken, and may often be one time and one time only deals.
Of course I read about the film in the few Horror Movie books which I began to accumulate as birthdays and Christmases and saved pocket money allowed, cursing the madness that had come upon me and taken me to my bed rather than leaving me rapt in front of the TV screen. I studied stills, pored over the opinions of Alan Frank and Dennis Gifford and Carlos Clarens, watched all of the sequels and lapped up the flashbacks to the original in both Bride of Frankenstein and Ghost of Frankenstein as this finest of all the BBC2 horror double bill seasons unrolled through the summer, and I pieced together a version of the film in my head long before I finally saw it. But nothing could substitute for that long gone and once only opportunity which I had allowed to slip through my fingers.
I would like to be able to console myself with the idea that it had not been my fault; that it had been out of my control. I would infinitely prefer to be able to shift the blame elsewhere, to be able to say that mum had drawn the line at the end of the first half of the double bill. That would have made some sense, at least. Bedtime was normally accomplished with militaristic zeal and rigour. It had been 9 o’clock without fail for years, although I think by this point a slow war of attrition had pushed the frontier back as far as half past, allowing me to watch some of the shows – often quality American import sitcoms like MASH or Rhoda – which occupied that crucial 30 minute slot in the schedules. It was perhaps as late as 10 on a Saturday because it wasn’t a school night – hence I shared the nation’s brief, unlikely fixation with cop buddy series Starsky and Hutch. But the sudden and unprecedentedly indulgent laissez-faire flexibility I encountered that particular night caught me totally off guard. Never mind a paltry half hour here or there, my newly liberal mum seemed to dismiss the very existence of ‘bedtime’ with a nonchalant wave of the hand.
I suspect in hindsight that she may have caught the glimpse of new fanaticism in my shining eyes as Dracula unspooled before me and, warm-hearted as she always was, saw some of that ‘child aglow at Christmas’ wonderment in my reaction which meant that she could not bring herself to curtail this sudden new love.
Both my parents were always exceptionally tolerant and encouraging of my odd fixations – for many years mum could, if pressed, list every Bond villain up to Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me, dad picked up my Spiderman comic from the newsagent every week without fail and the battered and cherished copy I still own of The Doctor Who Monster Book was a present he brought back for me from the only training course I ever recall him being sent on. A couple of days in Portsmouth. Anyone else remember the days before training courses made us all worry about all the things we hadn’t been worrying about not knowing before because we didn’t know about not knowing them?. I think now it was because they saw in these sudden rushes of excitement and wide eyed enthusiasm something of the little boy they remembered as opposed to the increasingly withdrawn and taciturn adolescent I was becoming.
In any case, whatever the reason, with no advance warning mum simply asked me if I was going to watch the next film. She didn’t want to see it – she remembered Frankenstein as ‘all flashing lights and noises’, a critical response to Whale’s landmark of cinema not shared, I was to discover, by Gifford or Frank et al – but I was welcome to stay up on my own if I wanted to.
So Dracula – literally the most fantastic thing I had ever seen – had finished, and where I had taken it for granted that at this point I was to be despatched to my little box room at the back of the house a sudden and spectacular possibility opened up to me of prolonging this magical night even further. Unable to believe my luck, there was only one thing anyone in this wondrous position could say. ‘No mum, that’s OK. I’ll go to bed.’ Hang on, what? ‘No mum, that’s OK. I’ll go to bed?’ Cretin! What was the matter with you child?
What could have possessed me? I’d just seen the best film ever – the progenitor of a genre that was immediately to become a desperate obsession – but opted not to bother with Frankenstein, not the first in the cycle, but certainly the most influential. It was Karloff’s monster, rather than Lugosi’s Dracula, who lurched his poignant way through a series of sequels, almost inventing the now industry standard idea of the ‘franchise’, in that as in so many ways years ahead of its time.
Was I tired? Nobody is that tired. Believe me, by the time the next Saturday double bill rolled around it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d just escaped from a month or two as the victim of a CIA sleep deprivation experiment, I’d still have propped my eyes open for the hour and a half it took to enjoy the second film.
Perhaps it has to do with a certain inborn and instinctive caution that is without question a strong part of my psychological make up, keeping me, for instance, working in the same room in the same building at the same job for the past twenty odd years. I enjoy teaching, but I’m in little doubt that fear of change has more to do with this almost unheard of immobility than contentment with things as they are. It’s a personality trait that has made most of my life less a question of ‘seize the day’ than ‘wait and see the day after tomorrow’. ‘Carpe Diem’ be damned, ‘hang on a mo’ is my motto. Dracula had been such an intense experience that, fearing either disappointment or total overload, I took the safe option and went to bed rather than risk either.
In later life we had a very hard time surrounding the birth of our first child – I use ‘we’ in that self-aggrandizing, right-on, new man sense which actually means my wife suffered rather a lot very bravely while I stood around uselessly on the sidelines trying not to snivel – involving miscarriages, an ectopic pregnancy and eventually an emergency caesarean and a haemorrhage which resulted in a 4 litre blood transfusion on the operating table while I held my newborn daughter and wondered if my wife was going to die in front of me. A couple of years later, blessed with a beautiful daughter and my wonderfully still alive and still wonderful wife, in a way that was rather symptomatic of the same spirit that had cost me Frankenstein so long before (although admittedly relating to a marginally more significant subject), I had a very vivid sense of having ‘got away with it’ and after such a narrow escape was bitterly and adamantly opposed to the idea that we should push our luck any further.
Like most good moles, however, I find the wild-eyed adventurousness of your average water rat irresistibly attractive and, fortunate to say, with her customary abandon my significant other completely overruled my needless fears and objections and as a result we have a second and equally extraordinary daughter. This is the complete set though, finally, definitively and absolutely – and I love complete sets; obsessive collecting being somehow DNA spliced with the horror movie gene – this last sentence being included in the unlikely event that my wife, still on occasion worryingly broody, should ever overcome her aversion to horror films enough to be reading this.
Not everything can be put down to inborn instinct however, and inevitably I now see that a part of this reticence, this reluctance to simply grab things I want with both hands, stems from my family and the kind of home I grew up in.
By contrast to what I’ve said about my time at school, my home was a place of absolute warmth and security. It’s possible in fact that this stark contrast between two mutually exclusive spheres of existence helps explain my immediate acceptance and embrace of the horror films that I was discovering, which of course have the idea of duality at their very heart – Dr. Frankenstein mirrored by his creation; poor tormented Larry Talbot and his Wolf Man alter ego; by day one way and by night another (no, sorry, that last one’s from Shrek, but you get the idea). My own life contained two entirely separate states of being and I was a different person in each; it couldn’t have been much of a leap to see Jekyll and Hyde as no more than an accurate symbolic reflection of what to me was simply an everyday reality.
My parents were a fixed point of complete certainty, who loved both me and my sister, and one another, with an absolute, unquestioned and unquestioning devotion. I didn’t worry about them; I didn’t really have to think about them at all, there were just there, and I knew they always would be. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The past is another country, and one that didn’t seem to include divorce or separation in its customs. I don’t know how unusual this was, but I literally did not know anyone with divorced parents back then – glancing around my classroom today it seems quite hard to find a kid without them. Even in the context of the time, however, I think there was something exceptional about the degree of comfort and – for want of a better word – cosiness that enveloped me as a child. Life was birthdays and bonfires and long long hours of back garden football and the deep warm butterflies of Christmas and of course I know, I know, part of this is just that aching A.E. Houseman land of lost content blue remembered hills rose tinted recollection of a middle aged man looking back on what has passed away, but part of it is simply true. That’s how it was.
Life was unvarying, untroubled routine. Up at the same time each day and to bed at the same time each night. The same meals on the same nights each week. Coffee made with milk boiled in the same pan at ten past eight every night (never eight, always ten past) and always signalled by some tuneless humming of whatever piece of music it was that accompanied the Nescafe ads of the time. Mum and dad never quarrelled. Never swore. I barely remember a raised voice – except for the annual blazing one-or-two-too-many-fuelled Christmas rows about the most bizarrely innocuous of subjects. I recall one, which reduced most of the house to tears of rage and frustration, about John McEnroe, and another about my failure to ‘play in the street’, mum having somehow failed to notice a slight build up in traffic between the Newcastle of the 1930s which spelled childhood to her and the reality of living on a 1970s main road.
No, things at home were safe and secure; mum and dad valued peace and quiet and gardening (they were both tall, but in most other respects it was a bit like being raised by hobbits), and although my adolescent self was unable to share the warm nostalgic glow which now suffuses all my memories of home, the worst he would have been able to say about it was that he sometimes found the environment just a little too safe, to the point of being a tad stifling. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks for instance, was banned in our house, always a much stricter and more effective censor than even the stuffily paternalistic BBC of the day, and had to be surreptitiously smuggled from Woolworths into my bedroom to hide between the ELOs and Manfred Manns.
Above all, I was loved, in a comfortably quiet and undemonstrative way.
I suppose that what I’m driving at here, with all the limited insight and perspective that the passing years have given me, is that our home was like a bubble of cosiness separated invisibly from a colder, harsher outside world, but like all bubbles it could only exist with the agreement of all inside not to pop it. I think in the end it was this that was at the root of my failure to grab the chance to watch the film, and in the longer term to allow other, more significant opportunities in life to slip by. I didn’t ask to stay up for Frankenstein, even though it was clear nobody would have minded if I had, in exactly the same spirit in which I never shared a single word about what was happening to me at school. I think I can see now that I felt very keenly the need not to trouble the secure surface of our little world through ever being too excessive, or too demanding, in anything. Problems simply weren’t permitted access to the bubble of our lives, and to introduce them – whether in the shape of something as trivial as the slightly unusual idea that I would stay up after everyone else had gone to bed, or more seriously that I was quite miserable for a lot of the time – would have been a breach of the unspoken contract we’d all signed up to that we would live in a place quite separate from the anxieties and the fears and the worries that existed out there, outside the bubble. All this was never voiced, or made explicit. I just somehow knew, or felt, that however much I might want to, staying up for the film was the wrong thing to do. At least until the next week, by which time the selfishness that inevitably goes with all true obsessions made me happily set aside all such qualms.
As a child I accepted all the never stated rules that underpinned the serenity of our house unquestioningly. Children are good observers, and have an instinctive understanding of the clues they witness; on the rare occasions problems of a fairly average and everyday sort intruded on their lives, mum and dad struggled to cope. We had a cowboy builder do an extension once, who did the usual trick (and not an unreasonable one, given the irregular nature of so much of their income) of booking up a few jobs simultaneously and flitting between them, so that the deadline for completion slipped further and further away during days and weeks of nobody appearing to finish the work. When he did appear one day, mum physically keeled over during the ensuing conversation.
Of course it’s not the worst parental crime in the world – in fact it’s no crime at all – to make your home a safe and softly spoken bubble world, and I speak now as someone all too aware of the terrible parenting decisions I’m sure I’m in the process of making. We do our best with the hand we’re dealt, and I’m afraid Philip Larkin with his deepening coastal shelves and his man handing on misery to man and his fucking-up parents may have been right, but he can still piss off for being such a dreary misogynistic right wing professional pessimist.
What I finally begin to see now, however, with that recognition of a shared humanity with your parents that only comes later in life – and sometimes after they’ve already gone – is something of the reasons my mum and dad needed to build a home so utterly calm and untroubled. As a child I remember being fascinated by the cover of a book – I don’t remember the title at all – which showed a boy reading the same book, which in turn showed the same boy reading the same book, and becoming preoccupied with the idea that, starting with me if I sat and held the book in the same way as the boy on the cover, the sequence must literally go on getting smaller and smaller forever. Dealing with the past is a bit like that. Begin to get to grips with yourself and you have to look further back to see why your parents were that way, which takes you to their parents and on and on ad infinitum. However I promise to stop with mum and dad, since this is a blog about horror movies rather than about eternal regression or the nature of infinity (I’ve got to leave some territory for Stephen Hawking, and he was kind enough not to mention Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man in A Brief History of Time). What I am now capable of realising is that, in different ways, both of them had experienced traumatic childhoods a million miles removed from the security and stability of mine.
The success of Angela’s Ashes a few years ago spawned a competition to discover the most heinous and appalling backgrounds it was possible for anyone to come from and publish exhaustive and prurient memoirs of the horrors their authors had endured to be drooled over with sadistic, almost pornographic glee by their wet-mouthed readers. It was a ghastly, genuinely ghoulish phenomenon which fortunately seems to have abated with the diminishing returns on the publisher’s balance sheets, and by the standards set by some of those dreadful books, and, sadly, by comparison with the truly appalling circumstances that many people have endured, mum and dad didn’t have much to complain about, but that’s not the point. It ain’t what you do, it’s what it does to you.
Mum was the youngest of three children, born in 1931 into a picturesque, ‘everyone knows everyone, you could leave your front door open, children playing in the streets and in the fields’ Northumbrian village in which her dad cut a dashing and well respected figure as a fireman. Well respected until people found out he was having it off with the local lady of the manor that is– all very Catherine Cookson, isn’t it? My gran Kitty had altogether too much pride and self-respect to turn a blind eye, with the upshot that she had to feed and clothe three young children – Cath, George, and Ann, my mum – as a single mother in pre-Welfare State, depression era Newcastle. Times were Jarrow March tough for everyone back there and then, but perhaps especially for a woman on her own with three kids. She coped on her wage as a cleaner in the hospital, supplementing it by – as quite a few people did at the time – running a ‘pub’ from her front room.
Mum worshipped her own mother, but never talked much about her dad, with whom she had no contact at all when growing up: although she did tell me much later that she’d visited him in hospital when he was dying and felt absolutely nothing for a man who was a total stranger to her. I am fairly clear that she carried a sense of betrayal with her from that very, very young age, and lived with a sense of men as essentially predatory and untrustworthy, which accounts – as far as the mysteries of love are ever to be accounted for, which isn’t far, truth be told – for her falling so completely and irrevocably for a man as gentle and placid and essentially reliable as my dad and creating a world of security never to be called into doubt, as our home.
Like mum, my dad had known childhood poverty and hardship – that’s real poverty, by the way, not the clapped out embarrassing car, black and white TV version that was a part of my 70s childhood – born in 1929 in a tiny cottage on the then still very rural outskirts of Norwich. I live in Norwich myself, and am very proud of my home city, with its two rivers and its castle and cathedral and university, and as such of course I bitterly resent the patronising view of the city still trotted out by lazy metropolitan journalists which suggests that twenty first century Norwich is still somehow essentially quaint and rural – I drive a Golf, not a tractor, and we even have running water and electricity these days – but back then there was certainly a measure of truth in the image. Small holdings all around, livestock in most back gardens – my dad earned a bit of extra pocket money from the old lady at the end of the street by collecting eggs from her vicious and terrifying goose, a mission he was only able to accomplish by pinning the spitting monster’s scrawny neck against the wall with the Y end of a handy clothesline prop.
All very Lark Rise, with my granddad’s slaughterman’s wages the only income and four young children – Doreen, (or Auntie Dodo forever afterwards to us), Gerald, my dad Roy, and Derek, the youngest. It was a crowded poverty that sent my dad into the Royal Navy as soon as he could join up, although it was no real sacrifice to him as it turned out; he gained a trade as an electrician, as much male bonding as he could have wanted (never an obviously testosterone-fuelled, hairy-knuckled, sloping-forehead version of a man’s man, nonetheless he always enjoyed all-male groups and cliques and seemed to actively seek them out in a working life that included the railways and the prison service); and the opportunity, as a green, know-nothing provincial boy to travel as far and as widely as any young nineteenth century gentleman on ‘the tour’. Strange how the navy offered the working classes opportunities and experiences usually reserved for the very few; in later life dad took great pleasure when watching travel programmes in repetitively announcing ‘been there … been there…’ as each new and exotic destination was Judith Chalmersed into our living room.
There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that it wasn’t a very real, but widely shared and essentially unexceptional poverty that formed the key formative experience of my dad’s early life, but the teenage death of his younger brother Derek.
I said earlier that mum hadn’t talked much about her father when we were growing up, but compared to my dad she was loquacity itself. Always a quiet man, he was tight-lipped to the point of neurosis on the subject of Derek; sufficiently so to make that famously terrible interview between Parkinson and Robert Mitchum (Mitchum: “yep…nope…yep…” for twenty minutes) seem like the sort of gushing weepy confessional that Piers Morgan would be proud of. Until I was legally an adult I didn’t even know dad had had a younger brother because he had literally never mentioned his name. Even after all this time I’m still not sure how much of this was about protecting us from the harshest realities of life for as long as he could and how much was about his own inability to confront the pain he continued to feel all his life at the monstrous unfairness of the loss, although I strongly suspect both played a part in roughly equal measure. I sometimes wonder how my relationship with the glorious morbidity of all these death-fixated movies might have been different had I been born into an earlier generation, one in which it would have been odds on that I would have come to know real loss, real bereavement, at a much earlier age than I did.
I’m still uncertain of the details – which I’d have gathered eventually from dad’s exhaustingly garrulous elder sister (my Aunt Dodo) although I don’t have any recollection of the specific occasion – perhaps because at the time I first heard the story I would have felt a certain shamefaced guilt that somehow I shouldn’t know this and therefore allowed the specifics to slip away over time into the vaguest possible form. It was a part of dad’s life he’d chosen never to share, and for his sake it seemed somehow intrusive and ugly to dwell on it. In broad terms, however, I know there was some sort of accident – although ‘accident’ makes it sound more appropriately dramatic than it was; in fact it was an incident terrifyingly banal and commonplace, like being hit by a football or something – which, because of complications caused by his pre-existing diabetes – ended up being terminal.
I remember once – I’m not sure how old I would have been, but young, certainly pre-Lugosi by some years – playing with a pair of grown-up binoculars which had interested me from as early as I can recall (steel and black, hard brown leather case they lived in) and dropping them on the kitchen floor. They didn’t break, but dad went very quiet (more quiet, that is) and mum flew into an inexplicable rage, which in the almost preternatural placidity of our home seemed all the more bizarre and out of proportion. It was only many, many years later that I came to understand. The binoculars came up in Dodo’s account of Derek’s last days – my granddad (who I never met but was a hard man by all accounts, a survivor of the trenches and German gas) returning teary-eyed from seeing his dying son and describing how his youngest wouldn’t complain, wouldn’t whine, but only wished he could see out of the window a bit better to fill the time. ‘Poor little bugger’, my granddad said, and spent money they didn’t have on a pair of binoculars which had been passed on to my dad after Derek’s death.
I suppose I could expend a bit of energy and research to find out more of the story but that really isn’t the kind of approach I’m taking here. I’m not trying to write about objective facts, but about subjective memory. It’s the vague, inconclusive version of these stories that are a part of me, that have helped shape me, not dates or clinical diagnoses. In much the same spirit, the sharper eyed amongst you, dear readers, will have noticed that there hasn’t been much analysis of Frankenstein in a post supposedly about the film, but that’s as it should be. I didn’t see it at the time, so the impact of the film on me wasn’t direct – it was as a mistake, a loss, a missed opportunity, that I experienced it, and that’s what I’ve tried to reflect.
One single comment I will make at this point however. For many years (and probably including this 70s screening I think) it was impossible to see the film in full – censorship had expurgated Karloff’s accidental, and entirely innocent, drowning of a young child, and also Colin Clive’s wild cries as his creation stirs for the first time ‘In the name of God … now I know what it feels like to be God’ – which were seen as, respectively, too hideously painful and too blasphemous to be allowed to assault the delicate sensibilities of the audience of the day.
Of course it doesn’t need saying that the censors who took their cack-handed scissors to Frankenstein were idiots, but I think it’s also worth acknowledging that they were responding, albeit absurdly, to a genuine coldness and brutality within the film. It is unremittingly bleak, with none of the leavening wit and high campery which characterises the rest of James Whale’s Universal output (The Invisible Man, The Old Dark House, Bride of Frankenstein). No concessions are made. The film has a raw edge, presenting us with the cold dark truth of a harsh and empty world, an essentially godless universe in which people are fundamentally stuff, not spirit. It’s a film without the religious, Manichaean idea of Evil or Good – only blind mischance and misguided, misaligned humanity.
All of which might be an appropriate point to make, even though it was years later when I finally saw the film, since it’s a world view which – though I don’t share it entirely – has come to represent a significant element in the way I see and respond to the world around me.
Rather to my surprise, I discovered in my later teenage years that dad was a relatively militant atheist. He was very tolerant of others’ beliefs – mum was a non-practising Catholic by this point, but always retained a vague, optimistic sense of a loving god above, an afterlife to be shared and a great respect for the church – but in dad’s own private convictions his atheism was strident and severe.
At about 15, for instance, I found myself taking an interest in the slightly more offbeat end of commercial cinema, which was as close to arthouse as a provincial teenager of my background was likely to get, but lacking any similarly inclined friends and being a bit too timid to go to cinemas on my own, I prevailed on my dad’s good nature to go along with me to stuff like David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Werner Herzog’s remake of Nosferatu, Woody Allen’s Manhattan and the like. It was walking back together from this last one (still perhaps my favourite of all Allen’s films) at Norwich’s Odeon, that he stopped at the queue outside the other cinema the city had to offer (the ABC, if anyone else remembers those) and took me into Life of Brian which I’d been pleading unsuccessfully with mum that I should be allowed to see for weeks previously. A chance like this to cock a snook at a non-existent god was just too hard for him to resist, and he laughed longer and louder than anyone else in the cinema.
Part of this, of course, is about simple truth. Non-belief is a given; it’s for believers to have to explain and justify themselves. We atheists are right, until somebody – or Somebody – can prove us wrong. Though of course we’ll look bloody silly on Judgement Day when He pops up to do just that. Dad was, in the best sense, a sceptic and a rationalist, traits I’ve inherited in part, although coupled uncomfortably in me with an alarming degree of new age credulity: Mulder and Scully constantly arguing in my head.
The other part, however, I have no doubt was owed in kind to his lifelong anger at the cold indifference of a purposeless universe which could have allowed his young brother to die so cruelly, brutally early.
Frankenstein, in other words, is the kind of film my dad might have made (had he had any interest in horror movies, and had he been a 1930s Hollywood film director rather than a 1970s electrician, which is all a bit of a leap admittedly, but bear with me, I know what I mean), in that the film’s bleak secularity is, in the end, much more genuinely inimical both to the platitudes and to the genuine comfort of organised religion than any such more immediately controversial, but ultimately church-friendly, horror fare as The Exorcist or The Omen or, I’m forced to admit, Dracula. So, with no disrespect to the genius of James Whale, I’m paying my own personal tribute here to a slightly different, alternate timeline, parallel world version of the film. Boris Karloff (or ? as he was billed at the time) as the monster in Frankenstein; Or, Up Yours the Almighty, a film by Roy Norman Galley, the kindest-faced, gentlest-hearted director never to make a stir in cutthroat Tinseltown. And that’s a movie I would have stayed up late to watch.