July 31, 2012

Frankenstein in Brisbane, Part 4:
Commencing To-Day

A grim Monster, a portrait in pencils, dominates the opening day ad for Frankenstein at the Tivoli Theater in Brisbane.

Another striking newspaper ad illustrated by the same artist, Julian Rose, shows Karloff’s Monster glancing back at panicked patrons. The heart pounding blurb reads, “You hate it… fear it… yet it wrings your heart with pity!”. The insurance policy is in effect, that “you may take solace” knowing that your next of kin will collect should the movie scare you to death. There’s no provenance given for this clipping, and there were several Capitol theaters in Australia, all part of the Hoyt’s chain. 

Obviously, Rose used promotional stills as reference. The profile drawing is from a photo of The Monster in the windmill and the standing Monster was posed on the mountain set.

Julian Rose’s precise origins are unclear. His parents, named Reznik or Resnick, also Russianized as Rezhnikoff, came from Odessa and a younger brother, Lou, was born in Sydney. Julian first rose to prominence as a vaudeville performer, sometimes billed as The Singing Cartoonist. He worked under the name Don Julian, no doubt to avoid confusion with a Brooklyn-born Julian Rose, a popular “Hebrew comic” who shuttled regularly between England and Australia.

Affecting a comedic French accent, Rose’s act was described by one reviewer as a “Frenchy artist who does lightning and clever caricatures with crayons, to the patter of wisecracks”. An ad for the Grand Opera House in Wellington, where he shared billing with The Harmonylarity Duo and a team of acrobatic violinists, has Don Julian down as The Continental Cartoonist, adding “He speaks a wee bit of English, yes”.

Rose played Melbourne’s Tivoli — where Frankenstein would open — in 1928 alongside Schistl’s Marionettes (Little People were often billed as “dolls” or “marionettes”) and Joe Termini, The Somnolent Melodist. In 1928, Rose was hired for a two-year, worldwide tour as a supporting act for the great Harry Lauder, Britain’s most famous performer and once the highest-paid entertainer in the world.

Returning to home to Sydney in June 1930, Rose set up Advertising Art Service Ltd., a company that would produce commercial art and display advertising for theatre and film. He would still moonlight, on occasion, as The Singing Cartoonist, at least through the Thirties, though he would devote himself mostly to his Art Agency until the Fifties after which Mr. Rose drops off our radar.

Julian’s brother, Lou, also an artist, worked for Advertising Art Service in the Thirties, later going on to a highly distinguished career serving the Jewish community. In 1973, he designed and sculpted a plaque dedicated to the memory of the murdered Israeli athletes of the Munich Olympics for the Jewish Memorial Center in Canberra.

Julian Rose’s Frankenstein ads suggest that he was hired to provide illustrations promoting the film’s release nation wide. Though his art is often signed, any number of unsigned sketches and eerie silhouettes in newspaper ads could be his work. Furthermore, no posters for Frankenstein’s Australian release have yet surfaced, and one wonders if Rose designed or illustrated any Frankenstein poster art.

We’ll keep an eye out for more Frankenstein art by the remarkable Julian Rose. 

The Capitol Theater ad courtesy of Greggory's Shock Theatre.

With thanks to Robert Kiss for his impeccable and exhaustive research into the life and career of Julian Rose.

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