CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Women of Hammer Films: Valerie Gaunt

As promised, I said I would talk about a few of the lovely ladies that made a name for themselves by starring in films by Hammer Studios during the 50's, 60's and 70's. Last year I talked about Joanna Lumley and Hazel Court. I start this Halloween season with actress Valerie Gaunt. Born in Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England on July 9th, 1933. She got her start in the acting field with some TV work in her native land. She only made two films for Hammer Studios, but they were both pretty big and both were notable parts. First was 1957's The Curse of Frankenstein, in which she played Justine, the maid who  lusted after Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing). After a quick affair, she becomes enraged after the Baron says he will marry his cousin Elizabeth (another Hammer vet, Hazel Court). Justine resorts to blackmail which doesn't turn out well for her. Her performance is highly erotic though.
Up next would be Horror of Dracula (1958) with Cushing and Christopher Lee again. Lee played Frankenstein's monster in the previous film. Here he plays Dracula. Gaunt's role in this film is much shorter but still packs an erotic punch. She plays Dracula's vampire woman, and in her first scene she puts the move on Jonathan Harker, asking for his help to escape her master. She tries to bite him but Dracula intervenes and throws her across the room. She hisses and shows her fangs. The next time you see her, she is in her coffin and her outlook for the rest of the movie doesn't look good. Once again Valerie is super sexy in this role and makes the most of her limited screen time. It's very surprising that Hammer Studios didnt bring her back for more film roles. But at least we have these two films to watch her at work.

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