World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

L Entries
Elsa Lanchester
Martin Landau
Robert Lansing
Glen A. Larson
Jack Larson
Christopher Lee
Mark Lenard
John Lennon
John Lithgow
June Lockhart
Robert Longo
Peter Lorre
Eugene Lourie
George Lucas
Bela Lugosi
William Lundigan
 
LOURIE, EUGENE
(1903–1991). French designer and director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Directed: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (and production designer and co-wrote, uncredited, with Fred FREIBERGER, Daniel James, Louis Morheim, and Robert Smith) (1953); The Colossus of New York (1958); The Giant Behemoth (and production designer and wrote; directed with Douglas Hickox) (1958); "Chemical Story" (1959), episode of World of Giants; Gorgo (1961).

Art direction: Confessions of an Opium Eater (also produced) (Albert ZUGSMITH 1962); The Strangler (Burt Topper 1964); Death Takes a Holiday (Robert Butler 1971); Kung Fu (tv movie) (Jerry Thorpe 1972); The Time Travelers (tv movie) (Alex Singer 1976).

Production designer: Crack in the World (and special effects) (Andrew Marton 1965).

 
Eugene Lourie was born in Russia, moved to France at a young age to establish himself as an art director in the French film industry, then moved to America to perform a variety of similar tasks in Hollywood. He worked with great directors on great films, and he worked with terrible directors on terrible films. One imagines that wherever he was, he always felt out of place, and this is not necessarily a bad feeling to have when approaching the task of making a science fiction film.

He earns the attention of this volume primarily for his activities during the 1950s, when he directed four worthwhile, and of course stylish, films. While I have elsewhere argued that the George Worthing YATES-scripted Them! set the pattern for 1950s science fiction films, one could plausibly say the same thing about The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; certainly, its effective scenes of a dinosaur rampaging through New York City proved a powerful influence on films ranging from Inoshiro HONDA's masterful Godzilla, King of the Monsters to Roland EMMERICH's inept Godzilla, and its dull and awkwardly staged expository scenes preceding that rampage were also widely imitated. Lourie was not as successful when he scripted another monster movie, The Giant Behemoth, which I vaguely recall as slow-moving and laden with incongruous biblical quotations; but Gorgo was a delight, its now-traditional tale of a giant dinosaur attacking a city reinvigorated by the theme of mother love—the big dinosaur is only attacking London in order to rescue its baby, the little dinosaur—and the story is imbued with just the slightest hint of ironic amusement.

Still, none of these films quite compare to The Colossus of New York, a 1950s science fiction film like no other, featuring Ross MARTIN as a scientist and loving father unhappily transformed into a clunky robot and accompanied by a blaring, completely inappropriate score that somehow helps to make the whole situation seem overpoweringly bizarre and haunting. And, despite his later dismissive comments, one has to imagine that, for once, Lourie's own sense of being a stranger in a strange land evocatively nuanced the production of the film.

After the golden age of monster movies ended, Lourie drifted back into subordinate assignments in art direction and production design and, by the 1970s, was working exclusively in television; his only other credit of note would be the Irwin ALLEN-directed and Rod SERLING-scripted television movie The Time Travelers, where his art direction was probably the best feature of this otherwise unmemorable film. If he never quite managed to become a Colossus of Hollywood, he nonetheless merits some recognition as one of its most interesting foot soldiers.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2014 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art