November 3, 2016
Los Angeles, California
(This blog originally posted 12.16.2009, but have updated with photos and more-1930s-films which was cut from Most Evil I. Click on link for that PDF.)
Murder As a Fine Art Continues….
(SKH Note- Below section was included in final draft of MOST EVIL , but edited out due to space limitations. However, to my mind, it remains an important part of “the big picture” (pun intended) providing increased weight to my theory that part of George Hodel’s bizarre signature -M.O. (Murder as a Fine Art) was to include and edit scenes from 1930s films into his real life serial killings.)
1930s films as M.O.
We have examined two 1930s-period films, The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939) and I have suggested that Zodiac, in his 1960s murders, was borrowing themes and characters from each film. Let us now examine two additional films from that period, which I believe buttress my theory.
In February, 1934, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio distributed a U.K. made film, The Mystery of Mr. X. The film starred a young Robert Montgomery, as Sir Nicholas Revel. The story involved a mad serial killer, “Mr. X”, who uses a rapier-like sword to stab and slay unsuspecting uniformed policemen, walking their beats in different sections of London. Mr. X, after slaying his victims, then mails taunting cut-and-pasted notes to the press, and as the film rushes to its climax, our hero, Sir Nicholas, by plotting the locations of the murder victims on a city map, cleverly deduces that the killer is constructing a giant letter X, with only one killing more needed to complete his “project.” Sir Nicholas, disguised in the uniform of a Bobbie, decides to use himself as bait, and drives to the anticipated final location, where he confronts Mr. X for a fight-to-the-finish finale.
In the above film clips, we see: (a) Mr. X’s cut and pasted notes, mailed to the police, which read: “Tonight X”, and “With kindest Regards from X.” In (b) we see Mr. X slaying a downed policeman with his long sword, and Sir. Nicholas, using a London town map to deduce the exact location where Mr. X is planning to slay his final victim.
Just 14-months prior to the release of The Mystery of Mr. X, the same studio (MGM) released another film. The name of this film was, Red Dust (1932). The film starred, Clark Cable and Jean Harlow, in a romantic drama which takes place on a rubber plantation in Indochina. The story line as best I can tell, is unimportant to our investigation. However, there is a scene in the film that I consider to be exactly–on point. Again, I believe Zodiac has plagiarized and incorporated a small scene from the film and incorporated it into his real life killing spree.
In Red Dust, a man-eating tiger has attacked some villagers, and the protagonist, Dennis Carson (Clark Gable) is determined to hunt it down. He solicits the help of a plantation visitor, Gary Willis (co-star, Gene Raymond) and together they set out into the jungle, to track and kill the beast.
They decide of a set trap by tying an animal to a tree in hopes that the tiger will attack the prey by night and they can shoot it. They stake-out the location by climbing the tree (a blind) and wait for nightfall. Because it would be a difficult shot in the dark of night, Gable shows his younger, inexperienced hunter an old trick. He attaches a flashlight to both of their rifle barrels, so they can simply point and shoot. The below clips from Red Dust, show their plan worked. In pitch dark, the tiger moves in for the kill, they turn on their flashlights and shoot it dead. The villagers are avenged and safe.
Gable attaching the flashlight to his weapon for a night shot and the kill
ZODIAC’S DEBUT LETTER
Let us reexamine some excerpts from Zodiac’s boastful handwritten, three-page letter to the San Francisco Examiner on 8/4/69:
… “Last Christmass
In that episode the police were wondering as to how I could shoot & hit my victoms in the dark… What I did was tape a small pencel flash light to the barrel of my gun. … When taped to a gun barrel, the bullet will strike exactly in the center of the black dot in the light. All I had to do was spray them as if it was a water hose; there was no need to use the gun sights.”
Throughout the 1930s, while attending medical school, George Hodel maintained close personal ties and connections to the Hollywood film studios. His high school friend, John Huston was a screenwriter and in 1932 had just completed writing the script dialogue for Universal‘s, Murders in the Rue Morgue, released in February of that same year. At that time, my mother, still married to Huston, was also a screenwriter (uncredited) doing freelance writing for: Universal, MGM and RKO. By 1932, Dorothy and John, after a very rocky six-year marriage, were on the verge of divorce. By then, both had been long involved in multiple affairs. Dorothy was intimate with a number of celebrity actors, which, by her own account included: Johnny Weissmuller, Sam Jaffe, and noted screen writer/director, Rowland Brown. In both the Dahlia and now the Zodiac investigation, I keep returning to a statement made by Joe Barrett, who was a roomer/tenant at the Franklin House from 1948-1950, and in a 1999 conversation with me, shortly after my father’s death, made, what I now consider an exceptionally astute observation. Joe in describing my father’s mental brilliance and genius– put it this way: [Black Dahlia Avenger, pg. 211]
You know Steve, George was gifted with a perfect photographic memory, that permitted him to absorb ideas from other people, and make them sound as if they were his own. He was super intelligent, but not particularly original.
Joe’s description is exactly what has been presented to us. Zodiac’s mind is not original, but, rather it is a moviola. Cursed with “a perfect photographic memory” he has extracted scenes and frames from this film and that one, and edited them into his own–noir horrors.
Zodiac’s 1960s serial killings are a diabolical remake of his past favorites, using real locations, real crimes, and real victims!