DeWitt Bodeen

DeWitt Bodeen

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Birthday: 
25 July 1908, Fresno, California, USA
Birth Name: 
Homer DeWitt Bodeen
Bodeen started out as a stage actor and playwright. In his latter capacity, he enjoyed a moderate amount of success with "Escape to Autumn" and "Thing of Beauty", before finding work as a reader in Hollywood. One of Bodeen's plays, "Embers at Haworth" (about the Bronte sisters), came to the attention of Val Lewton... Show more »
Bodeen started out as a stage actor and playwright. In his latter capacity, he enjoyed a moderate amount of success with "Escape to Autumn" and "Thing of Beauty", before finding work as a reader in Hollywood. One of Bodeen's plays, "Embers at Haworth" (about the Bronte sisters), came to the attention of Val Lewton, who was at the time working for David O. Selznick on an adaptation of Jane Eyre (1943). Lewton promptly hired Bodeen as a research assistant to work on the script with Aldous Huxley. When Lewton left Selznick after being signed as producer by RKO, he invited Bodeen to join him as part of a unit, specifically tasked with turning out horror movies to be filmed within a budget of $150,000. Bodeen would earn $75 per week (Lewton's own salary was only $250). The other members of this close-knit group included the director Jacques Tourneur, the editor (soon to be promoted to director) Mark Robson, composer Roy Webb and the writer Ardel Wray. For several weeks, Lewton and Bodeen (by now close friends) accumulated experience in the genre by viewing classic horror films from the previous decade, including Paramount's Island of Lost Souls (1932).The first, and most successful, of the cycle of horror films on which Lewton and Bodeen collaborated, was Cat People (1942). As it turned out, both title and subject were rather imposed upon them by RKO studio chief Charles Koerner. Koerner had this notion that traditional movie monsters had been sufficiently dealt with, while nobody had done anything yet with a cat motif. Though initially apprehensive, Bodeen, eschewing traditional methodology, wrote the script as a study of psychological terror (a novelisation based on his story was later published by horror writer Gary Brandner). "Cat People" was completed in just 24 days and came in well under budget. Koerner was at first disappointed upon seeing the first cut, but quickly changed his mind once the picture began to break records at the box office. Some sources have even suggested, that it may have helped save the studio from bankruptcy.Bodeen worked on two more entries in this series: The Seventh Victim (1943) (with a creepy shower scene, precursor to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)); and The Curse of the Cat People (1944), which, in spite of its title, was neither a sequel to "Cat People", nor a horror film in any true sense, but merely a subtle, overly ambiguous study of childhood loneliness. Bodeen did better work as co-writer (with Herman J. Mankiewicz) of another fable, the sentimental feel-good film The Enchanted Cottage (1945), based on a play by Arthur Wing Pinero. After his second contract with RKO expired in 1947, Bodeen free-lanced for a while and then concentrated on writing teleplays. He was several times nominated for Writers Guild Awards. A regular contributor to film journals, he also authored several books on Hollywood stars, as well as one on "The Films of Cecil B. DeMille". Show less «

DeWitt Bodeen's FILMOGRAPHY

Cat People

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The Seventh Victim

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Cat People

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