MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS (INTERNET)

Summary

This program, narrated by Ian McShane, is a tribute to Dan Curtis, charting his lengthy career as a producer, director, and writer of productions that ranged from the gothic daytime serial "Dark Shadows" to the epic mini-series "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance." It combines the recollections of Curtis's cast and crew members with highlights from his shows.

As the production opens, Curtis talks about "the magic" of "Dark Shadows," describing it as "a love story that spans time." Next, Curtis's daughters Tracy and Cathy describe his upbringing in Bridgeport, Conn., his marriage to wife Norma, his early life as a salesman in Chicago, the launching of his New York City-based production company, and his getting CBS to air his golf show, "The CBS Match Play Golf Classic" for ten years. Next, Curtis recalls how he came up with the concept for "Dark Shadows": the result of a dream about a young woman named Victoria Winters, played by Alexandra Moltke, on a train who is hired as a governess in a remote part of Maine. Art Wallace then wrote an outline called "The Shadows on the Wall," which evolved into "Dark Shadows." Curtis reflects on how the show's first six months -- chronicling the rich, mysterious Collins family of Collinsport, Maine, and their spooky mansion, Collinwood -- brought about threats of cancellation. Assuming he had nothing to lose, he introduced supernatural elements, including phoenix Laura Collins, played by Diana Millay, which caused an immediate ratings spike. Ten months into the show, Curtis conceived the character of Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, a 175-year-old vampire accidentally released from his coffin in the family crypt who's intent on bloody retribution. Later, the character of Barnabas evolved from a vicious monster to a vulnerable and lovelorn hero, which sent ratings through the roof. Paley curators David Bushman and Ron Goldman address how the show evolved over the years, steadily gained popularity, and ultimately changed daytime television while serving as a respite from current events like the Vietnam War. Viewers ranged from teenagers who would "run home from school" for the 4 p.m. start time to older audience members who perceived being bitten by a vampire as having a sexual connotation.

Further recollections follow from celebrity fans Whoopi Goldberg and Alan Ball, as well as the show's composer Bob Cobert, and cast members Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans/Josette du Pres), Roger Davis (Jeff Clark/Peter Bradford), John Karlen (Willie Loomis), Lara Parker (Angelique Duval), Jerry Lacy (Tony Peterson/Reverend Trask), Nancy Barrett (Carolyn Stoddard), James Storm (Gerard Stiles), Marie Wallace (Eve), Christopher Pennock (Jeb Hawkes), and David Selby (Quentin Collins). The program also covers: how the actors became a repertory troupe playing various characters as the plot jumped between centuries; how the taped, under-rehearsed show was virtually live since no retakes were allowed, causing many gaffes to be aired and creating "panic" for the likes of veteran actress Joan Bennett (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard); plots that "borrowed" from classics ranging from "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" to "The Turn of the Screw" and "Jane Eyre"; crowds lining up each day outside the 53rd Street studio in New York City to meet the actors; subsequent personal appearances for the cast and becoming teen idols due to 16 Magazine and Tiger Beat; how "Quentin's Theme" became a hit record; the making of two big-screen "Dark Shadows" films ("House of Dark Shadows" and "Night of Dark Shadows"); and the advent of "Dark Shadows" conventions, held every year since 1993 in either New York City or Los Angeles.

By the end of the show's five-year run in 1971, Curtis admitted to having lost interest, causing the show to suffer. After successfully producing a series of horror films for television or theatrical release, including "The Night Strangler," "Trilogy of Terror," and "Burnt Offerings," Curtis went on to direct and produce a mini-series based on Herman Wouk's "The Winds of War." He followed that with an even more ambitious mini-series based on Wouk's "War and Remembrance," which graphically depicted the Holocaust and won him an Emmy, along with co-producer Barbara Steele. Curtis next produced a night-time version of "Dark Shadows," with Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins and Steele as Julia Hoffman. Both Cross and Steele reflect on their experiences, as well as how the 1990 Gulf War led to the show's premature cancellation. Curtis's daughters recall how he continued directing up to his death in 2006. The program concludes with Curtis wishing that he'd be remembered for "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance," but knowing that he would instead be immortalized by "Dark Shadows," which he admits to having loved.

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  • RUNNING TIME: 1:26:45
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 136436
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CREDITS

    • Malik B. Ali … Executive Producer
    • Badie Ali … Executive Producer
    • Hamza Ali … Executive Producer
    • David Gregory … Producer, Director, Writer
    • Jim Pierson … Producer
    • Carl Daft … Co-Producer
    • Todd Weineke … Associate Producer
    • Maximillian Meehan … Writer
    • Bob Cobert (See also: Robert Cobert) … Music by
    • Mark Raskin … Music by
    • Ian McShane … Narrator
    • Alan Ball
    • Nancy Barrett
    • Joan Bennett
    • David Bushman
    • Bob Cobert (See also: Robert Cobert)
    • Ben Cross
    • Cathy Curtis
    • Dan Curtis
    • Norma Curtis
    • Tracy Curtis
    • Roger Davis
    • Jonathan Frid
    • Whoopi Goldberg
    • John Karlen
    • Jerry Lacy
    • Diana Millay
    • Alexandra Moltke
    • Lara Parker
    • Christopher Pennock
    • Kathryn Leigh Scott
    • David Selby
    • Ron Simon
    • Barbara Steele
    • James Storm
    • Art Wallace
    • Marie Wallace
    • Herman Wouk