VIRTUAL EVENT: Horror Television of the 1970s: “The House and the Brain”

Thursday, Oct 20, 2022 - 11:00am
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Presented by UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment

Part of: Virtual Screening Room

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In-person: video Q&A with author Elana Levine.

Archive events are in Pacific Time (U.S.). This is a one-time live screening.

Best known as the executive producer that transformed ABC’s nearly-canceled soap opera General Hospital (1963-present) into one of the most highly-rated hits in the history of daytime TV, Gloria Monty (1921-2006) was a true television pioneer. After working off-Broadway and running a summer stock theater for five years, Monty landed at CBS’ daytime television division in the early 1950s, where she amassed breakthrough credits on numerous soap operas, including advancing to associate director on The First Hundred Years (1950-1952). At the network, Monty would later go onto direct Love of Life (1951-1980) and the pilot for, and eventually thousands of episodes of, the long-running serial The Secret Storm (1954-1974).

As one of the first women directors in the still-emerging television industry, Monty strived to forge new ground despite encountering resistance. In a 1986 interview with the New York Times, Monty recalled that when she hired a woman as assistant director on Secret Storm, men on the crew complained that they would not be able to differentiate between two female voices in their headsets. After carefully considering the supposed dilemma for a moment, Monty quickly dispatched the non-issue, responding, “Nobody has any trouble telling the difference between two male voices.”

Two-time Emmy-winner Monty’s decades-long broadcasting career included forays in primetime and beyond. In 1973, she would join producer Jacqueline Babbin (Sybil) and director Lela Swift (Dark Shadows) in contributing to ABC’s programming experiment The Classic Ghosts (1973), which was staffed and crewed by women in numerous posts across the production (see New York Times: “Distaff TV Production Team That’s More Than Tokenism”). Monty helmed two installments of the outré series, including “The House and the Brain,” co-starring noted character actor Hurd Hatfield (The Picture of Dorian Gray). Shot on beautifully color-saturated videotape, the highly-atmospheric occult tale concerns a young woman (Carol Williard) trapped in time by a guardian (Hatfield) that compels her to lure victims to their castle for demonic purposes. The gothic work, perfectly suited for a late-night slot opposite The Tonight Show on NBC, artfully combines elements of vintage paperback romance novels, the cult-classic Dark Shadows, and B-movie frights—representing a rare time capsule of 1970s horror TV and a testament to Monty’s directorial talents and versatilely across genres.

Following the screening, there will be a discussion with Elana Levine, author of Her Stories: Daytime Soap Opera and US Television History, and Maya Montañez Smukler, Archive Research and Study Center Officer and author of Liberating Hollywood: Women Directors and the Feminist Reform of 1970s American Cinema.

Program notes by Mark Quigley, John H. Mitchell Television Curator.

The Classic Ghosts: “The House and the Brain”
U.S., 5/20/1973

In this gothic horror tale directed by TV pioneer Gloria Monty, a young woman (Carol Williard) is held captive in time by her satanic guardian (Hurd Hatfield).

DCP, color, 75 min. Production: A Spector production. Executive Producer: Robert Berger. Producer: Jacqueline Babbin. Director: Gloria Monty. Writer: John Vlahos. Based on a story by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. With Hurd Hatfield, Keith Charles, Carol Williard, Maryce Carter, Gretchen Corbett.

Preserved from 2 in. videotape at CBS Media Exchange.

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