The Climax

1943

Dr. Hohner (Karloff), theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his mistress, the star soprano when his jealousy drives him to the point of mad obsession. Ten years later, another young singer (Foster) reminds Hohner of the late diva, and his old mania kicks in. Hohner wants to prevent her from singing for anyone but him, even if it means silencing her forever. The singer's fiancée (Bey) rushes to save her in the film's climax.

Cast:
Boris Karloff .... Dr. Hohner
Susanna Foster .... Angela
Turhan Bey .... Franz
Gale Sondergaard .... Luise
Thomas Gomez .... Count Seebruck
June Vincent .... Marcellina
George Dolenz .... Amato Roselli
Ludwig Stössel .... Carl Baumann
Jane Farrar .... Jarmila Vadek
Ernö Verebes .... Brunn
Lotte Stein .... Mama Hinzel
Scotty Beckett .... The King
William Edmunds .... Leon
Maxwell Hayes .... King's Ride
Dorothy Lawrence .... Miss Metzger

Suzanna Foster

Susanna DeLee Flanders Larson was brought to Hollywood at the age of 12 by MGM, who sent her to school and groomed her for a singing and acting career. Two of her classmates in school were Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Oddly enough, MGM never used her, and she was signed by Paramount in 1939, where she made "The Great Victor Herbert" (1939). William Randolph Hearst was so impressed with her, after seeing her in that film, that he had her flown out to his mansion for a private recital for him and Marion Davies. She signed with Universal in 1941, and was used basically as leverage against Deanna Durbin, to keep her in line. Reportedly, Universal's Technicolor 'The Phantom of the Opera' (1943), Susanna's most famous role, was a Durbin reject. She next appeared in the classic "The Climax" in 1944. Even though she was immensely popular at that time, her roles kept going downhill. After "That Night with You" in 1945, she'd had it. Still under contract with Universal, she went overseas to study voice for three years, (paid for by Universal). When she quit Universal in 1948, she sold her mink stole and used the money to move to the east coast, where she eventually met and married Wilbur Evans, who was 20 years her senior. The Evans' did a lot of stage work, doing operettas and musicals of the time, touring quite extensively. In between all of this, Susanna miscarried her first child, but went on to have two sons; Phillip and Michael. Susanna had tired of show business and wanted a more 'normal' life, so when she and Evans divorced in 1956, she quit performing altogether and got jobs to support her and her children. With the children raised (Phillip passed away) she set back out to California, and lived in her car for a while until she got established. Sadly, any dream of making a comeback was hampered by several health problems.

Gale Sondergaard

Edith Holm (Gale) Sondergaard was born of Danish stock on February 15, 1899 in Litchfield, Minnesota. She was a late bloomer by film standards, not gaining her first role until she was 36 years old, when she made her first film appearance in Anthony Adverse (1936) and became the first recipient of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this performance. It was a start of a promising career. In 1937, Gale starred in MAID OF SALEM and THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, Gale was one of the main inspirations for the look of the Evil Queen/Witch in Walt Disney's _Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She was to have played the Wicked Witch of the West in 'The Wizard of Oz' but was dropped after screen tests showed her to be too glamorous for the role. She stayed fairlybusy through the balance of the 30's, but appeared in film after film in the 40's. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, THE MARK OF ZORRO, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, and ROAD TO RIO were just a few films which kept Gale busy and kept movie patrons coming to the theaters. In 1940 she played a role which would become one of her most identifiable, as the exotic and sinister wife in The Letter. She received a second Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role in Anna and the King of Siam in 1946. Suddenly, the roles began to dry up. After two films in 1947, Gale didn't appear again on the silver screen until 1949 in the production of EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE. Caught up in the "Red Scare", she was blacklisted with her husband named as one of the Hollywood Ten in 1948. Herbert Biberman was sentenced to six months in Texarkana Prison and fined $1,000. She supported her husband during the production of Salt of the Earth (1954). Highly controversial when it was made, and not a commercial success, its artistic and cultural merit was recognised in 1992 when the National Film Preservation Board selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Blacklisted by the studios, Sondergaard did not appear in another Hollywood film until Savage Intruder in 1968. This was followed by Slaves (1969), Pleasantville (1976), The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976) and Echoes (1983). Two years later on August 14, 1985, Gale died of cerebral vascular thrombosis. She was 86 years old.