Guy Endore

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Guy Endore, date unknown

Samuel Guy Endore (4 July 1901 – 12 February 1970), born Samuel Goldstein and also known as Harry Relis, was an American novelist and screenwriter. During his career he produced a wide array of novels, screenplays, and pamphlets, both published and unpublished. A cult favorite of fans of horror, he is best known for his novel The Werewolf of Paris, which occupies a significant position in werewolf literature, much in the same way that Dracula does for fans of vampires.[1] Endore is also known for his left-wing novel of the Haitian Revolution, Babouk: The Story of A Slave.[2] He was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), and his novel Methinks the Lady . . . (1946) was the basis for Ben Hecht's screenplay for Whirlpool (1949).

Early life[edit]

Endore was born Samuel Goldstein in Brooklyn, New York, to Isidor and Malka Halpern Goldstein. His father was a coal miner, inventor, and investor from Pittsburgh who often had difficulty making ends meet. His mother committed suicide when he was four, possibly due to the family's unstable and often insufficient livelihood.[2] Isidor changed their name in an attempt to move beyond the events of the past, and he placed the children in a Methodist orphanage. During this time, Isidor sold an invention and dreamt that his dead wife willed the children to have a European education, so he sent them to Vienna with the newfound windfall. The children lived in Vienna for five years under the care of a Catholic governess, but when Isidor disappeared and their funds ran short, they returned to Pittsburgh and lived together.

Education[edit]

Endore received a B.A. in 1923 and an M.A. in 1925, both in European languages, at Columbia University. According to his own account, he scraped together the money to attend, even renting out his bed to a wealthier student while he slept on the floor. He unsuccessfully pursued a Ph.D.

Writer[edit]

Endore's first novel was The Man From Limbo (1930), about an impoverished college graduate obsessed with acquiring wealth; it was influenced by Robert Louis Stevenson. [3] His most famous work was The Werewolf of Paris (1933), a violent horror story set during the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune and inspired by the work of Hanns Heinz Ewers, whom Endore had translated. The Werewolf of Paris is described by Stableford as "entitled to be considered the werewolf novel".[3] Endore also wrote what Stableford describes "a few notable horror stories", including "The Day of the Dragon", (1934) in which a scientific experiment returns dragons to the contemporary world, and "Lazarus Returns",(1935) an ironic tale involving the Biblical character.[3]

After his work as a screenwriter Endore published several other Freudian-tinged mysteries (Methinks the Lady, Detour at Night) and also returned to his love of French history for biographies on Voltaire (Voltaire! Voltaire! [1961]), the Marquis de Sade (Satan's Saint [1965]), and Rousseau. His only other popular literary success came with King of Paris: A Novel (1956), based on the life of Alexandre Dumas. It became a best-seller and was a Book-of-the-Month Club choice.[2]

Hollywood[edit]

After graduating, Guy married Henrietta Portugal and in the 1930s they moved to Hollywood. Despite his eventual blacklisting, Endore had a fairly successful career in Hollywood, working on scripts or story ideas for big name pictures of the time. He made his name in the supernatural arena, with such movies as Mark of the Vampire and The Curse of the Werewolf (based on his novel The Werewolf of Paris). Although many of his films were at the time derided by critics, they have acquired a cult following in recent years.

Throughout his career Endore showed himself to be fascinated with hypnotism and the inability of characters to control their own actions, centering his stories on supernatural maladies such as lycanthropy and hypnosis. Mad Love, Peter Lorre’s American debut, involves a man who, after an accident, is fitted with the hands of a murderer which try to continue in their gruesome career. His novel Methinks The Lady..., which was made into a movie with Gene Tierney, centered around a woman affected by a quack hypnotist. Even his Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers comedy, Carefree, still includes Rogers being put under hypnosis.

Endore began his movie writing career in 1935, when he wrote the story for Rumba, an insipid star vehicle for George Raft and Carole Lombard, which was given a scathing review in the New York Times. From there he began working in film. He worked on the screenplay for Mark of the Vampire with Bela Lugosi. He also wrote the 19-page treatment that eventually became The Raven, for which he was never credited. A number of other horror films followed, interspersed with more mainstream films including the Oscar-nominated (G.I. Joe), a John Wayne movie (Lady from Louisiana), and a Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire picture (Carefree). His Hollywood career ended in 1969 with a made for TV movie entitled Fear No Evil, for which he wrote the story. It was the first US Television “Movie of the Week” and a success in the ratings, spawning a sequel in later years.

Leftism[edit]

While he attended Columbia, he was drawn to the political left by Whittaker Chambers, who was a fellow student at the time, and by the harsh Great Depression world in which he lived. He would openly describe himself as opposed to capitalist class society and to imperialism, with all its racist foundations. While living in Hollywood Endore was interviewed several times and wrote articles for multiple leftist publications, including Black and White, The New York Clipper, and New Masses.

Endore was a member of the Communist Party in Hollywood[2] and was investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee during its search for Communist infiltration of the film industry. He was, however, never called before a “witch-hunting committee” and did not spend any time in jail. Because of his Communist associations, some studios blacklisted him and he had to sell his screenplays under the pseudonym Harry Relis. (Relis was actually the husband of Endore's wife's eldest sister.) However, he remained defiant, claiming that he was a failure as a human being if he was not subversive to everything HUAC stood for.

After the release of Khrushchev Report (1956) he abandoned the fight against the blacklist, only a few years before the reinstatement of many leftist sympathizers in the film industry. This has cast him into obscurity amongst the more prominent pro-Communist writers. Endore struggled to produce significant works of leftist fiction, but he often felt resigned to composing what he believed would sell – especially after the public failure of Babouk, with its more explicitly sympathetic depiction of the Haitian Revolution. He retained his profound interest in historical subjects, however.

Endore studied and was greatly inspired by Marx. He had strong interests, intellectual and moral, in mysticism, yoga, vegetarianism, theosophy, and anti-vivisectionism. Endore was a friend of Lillain Smith.[2]

Activism[edit]

Although more famous for his fiction, Endore was a committed activist, attempting to protect with words those who were mistreated by the American culture and legal system. He supported non-governmental drug rehab programs, tried to use literature to illuminate what he considered to be historical oversights, and wrote pamphlets for many anti-racist causes, including The Crime at Scottsboro about the Scottsboro boys and their subsequent trial.

In 1940 Endore involved himself deeply in the defense of those arrested in the "Sleepy Lagoon" case (also known as the “Chicano Scottsboro”), when 17 Mexican teenagers were incarcerated for a murder. Although there was scant evidence, a complete lack of eyewitnesses, and no murder weapon to be found, they were put away in a wave of hysteria spread through the newspapers of LA. Endore became involved when he looked into the case and was startled by the lack of evidence.[4] He proceeded to write a pamphlet entitled the Sleepy Lagoon Mystery which went over in detail the mistakes and oversights involved in the case. Giving a speech on the Al Jarvis radio show, Endore referred to Sleepy Lagoon as “the name of a disgrace which should be on the conscience of every decent American – and especially every decent person who lives in Los Angeles – because we allowed it to happen here.” To bring his readers over to his way of thinking Endore used scare tactics, threatening his readers that, should they allow this to happen, they could, in essence, be next. For the next year he corresponded often with the defense, gave interviews, and spoke on radio shows in an attempt to help the teens. At the end his attempts were a success and, with the information exposed in his pamphlet and a change in common opinion, the verdict was reversed.

Endore became a devoted proponent of the Synanon Foundation, a controversial southern California commune dedicated to reforming and rehabilitating drug addicts and alcoholics. (Later, as the Church of Synanon, it started its own utopian social movement.) He composed pamphlets and a published history of the commune, Synanon. He also taught fiction writing at the Los Angeles People’s Education Center.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Casanova: His Known and Unknown Life, John Day (New York City), 1929.
  • (Translator) Hanns Heinz Ewers, Alraune, John Day (New York City), 1929.
  • The Man from Limbo, Farrar & Rinehart (New York, NY), 1930.
  • (Translator) Julien Viand, An Iceland Fisherman, P. A. Norstedt, 1931.
  • The Werewolf of Paris, Farrar & Rinehart, 1933, reprinted, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1941.
  • The Sword of God: Joan of Arc, Garden City Publishing Co. (New York City), 1933.
  • Babouk, Vanguard Press (New York, NY), 1934.
  • The Crime at Scottsboro, Hollywood Scottsboro Committee, 1938.
  • The Sleepy Lagoon Mystery, Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee, 1944, reprinted, R & E Research Associates, 1972.
  • Methinks the Lady, Duell (New York, NY), 1946, published as Nightmare, Dell (New York, NY), 1956.
  • King of Paris (Book-of-the-Month Club selection), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1956.
  • Detour at Night, Simon & Schuster, 1958, published as Detour Through Devon, Gollancz (London), 1959.
  • Voltaire! Voltaire!, Simon & Schuster, 1961 (published in England as The Heart and the Mind, W. H. Allen, 1962).
  • Satan's Saint, Crown (New York, NY), 1965.
  • Call Me Shakespeare: A Play in Two Acts, Dramatists Play Service, 1966.
  • Synanon, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1968.
  • (Translator) Hanns H. Ewers, Alraune, edited by R. Reginald and Douglas Menville, Arno, 1976.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Stableford, "The Werewolf of Paris", in: Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol 5. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, Inc., 1983. ISBN 0-89356-450-8 (pp. 2102–2106).
  2. ^ a b c d e Chris Vials, "Endore, Guy" in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature, Emmanuel Sampath Nelson, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 9780313330605 (pp. 658–660).
  3. ^ a b c "Endore, (Samuel) Guy," by Brian Stableford in David Pringle, St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. London : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063 (pp. 207–09).
  4. ^ Frank Krutnik, "Un-American" Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era. Rutgers University Press, 2007, ISBN 0813541980,(pp. 99–100, 107, 109).
  • "Endore, Samuel (Guy)." Dictionary of Literary Biography.
  • Wald, Alan. "The Subaltern Speaks." Monthly Review April 1992: 17–29.
  • Ramsey, Joseph. "Guy Endore and the Ironies of Political Repression." Minnesota Review 70. Spring/Summer 2008: 141–151.

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