CAGLIOSTRO: THE GREAT IMPOSTER (paperback) - BearManor Manor
BearManor Media


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With the success of Dracula and Frankenstein Universal Pictures was searching for more vehicles for its new Monster stars, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. A story was prepared, originally for Bela Lugosi then quickly switched to Karloff based on the 18th century alchemist Cagliostro. A master of black arts, tarot cards, medicine and freemasonry, who was said by his followers to be 3,000 years old. Nina Wilcox Putnam wrote a treatment in which Karloff was to be not only a magician but a scientist who invented a radio-television death ray which alternates as an astral projection machine. (Lugosi actually made a picture called Murder by Television for Imperial-Cameo Productions in 1935)

The Laemmle's thought the treatment "Too science fiction-[There are] no monsters in it" in its format and assigned Ms Putnam to work with John L. Balderston who added more Egyptian mystic themes. Balderston was one of the few journalist to be permitted to enter King Tut's Tomb in 1935 when Howard Carter the archaeologist was finally permitted to reenter the tomb to catalog his discovery. Balderston brought great authenticity to the project. But the end result seemed to occult for the main office and it was dropped from production, eventually evolving into Karloff's The Mummy" in 1932.
Also contains a short biography of the real life Cagliostro with references and biography and credits for screenwriters Nina Putnam Wilcox and John L. Balderston.

Anyone who cares about classic monster movies will find a treasure trove of information, rare photos, and meticulous detail in these books. They are obviously a labor of love.
Leonard Maltin

"Each page is filled with documented information that will change a few history books. The student of writing for the screen has an opportunity to see the development of screenplays under every possible condition."
— Ray Bradbury, Author