Val Lewton Ephemera
"He was given assignments which most contract producers would have filmed on the back lot and shrugged off as evil necessities, but he approached each assignment as a challenge. Forced to submit to exploitation titles, he was determined that the pictures hiding behind the horror titles should be films of good taste and high production quality."
Writer DeWitt Bodeen from his book More from Hollywood, A. S. Barnes and Co., 1977
"His philosophy, in addition to scaring the wits out of people, was that he had a responsibility to the millions who saw our pictures. He aimed at more than mere exploitable crook shows, and wanted their impact to result from legitimate psychological conflicts. Lewton's pictures were cheaply made, but not cheap."
Director Robert Wise, from an interview in Films in Review, January
(as quoted in Banzak's Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career.)
"He was an addictive researcher, drawing out of it the over-all feel, mood and quality that he wanted... Everything had to be cheap because we were on a shoestring. That was another thing about Val - - a low budget was a challenge to him, a spur to inventiveness, and everyone around him caught the fever."
Ardel Wray, as quoted in Joel Siegel's Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror, The Cinema One Series, The Viking Press, 1973.
"...In the beginning Val was a marvelous producer, but then he attempted to do too much. He tried to move into every department, which was unfortunate. Val was the only producer, in the American sense of the word, to whom the credit Producer really applied. People give him credit for the whole thing and in a way they're right. It's just that it was impossible for Val to work with anybody, and he couldn't do it all by himself."
DeWitt Bodeen - From John Brosnan's Horror People, as quoted in Ed Banzak's Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career, McFarland and Co., 1995.
"In the early days of American films there were no producers; creative people were in charge of the productions of their own films. Although something of an oversimplification, it generally holds that the art went out of Hollywood when producers began to appear. .. It is ...nonsensical to speak of producers as creators when, in all but a few cases, they were the enemies of creation. One of the exceptions was Lewton who, though credited only as producer, was unarguably the artistic creator and prime mover of his films... Lewton's films were easily identifiable by their attention to detail, their unusually literate screenplays, their skillful, suggestive use of shadow and sound... Lewton contributed a great deal to the screenplays of his films, from the original story-lines, which were often his, through the various drafts and revisions; and he always wrote the final shooting scripts himself."
From Joel Siegel's Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror, The Cinema One Series, The Viking Press, 1973.
"Lewton was '...brilliant, constructive and intelligent - - much more interesting than any of those Universal guys... There was a kind of friction between us because he liked people he could dominate. He couldn't do that with me because I was independent.'" - Curt Siodmak
From Tom Weaver's Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers, as quoted in Ed Banzak's Fearing the Dark: The Val Lewton Career, McFarland and Co., 1995.
"He enjoyed having his hand in the writing. He'd come home with a script that one of his writers had done and say, 'Just look at this crap!' Then he'd sit down and patch it up. I used to think he went out of his way to pick inept writers so that he'd have to redo their work... He'd talk out the different parts as he wrote them..."
From an interview with Lewton's daughter, Nina Lewton Druckmann, as quoted in Joel Siegel's Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror, The Cinema One Series, The Viking Press, 1973.
"Val was a wonderful person, kind, sensitive, and sweet. The only time he ever scolded me was when he came into the office early one morning and found me reading one of his novels. He blushed and then became quite angry. 'Don't ever let me catch you reading one of those books again,' he shouted, and slammed the door to his office. He was an unusually acute judge of character... But he wasn't equipped to handle the way that the movie industry is run."
Verna De Mots, Lewton's secretary, as interviewed in Joel Siegel's Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror, The Cinema One Series, The Viking Press, 1973.