The Veil (1958)

Boris Karloff’s introduction to The Veil

The Veil was a 1958 anthology television series starring Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) and produced by Hal Roach who had made such successful comedy series as Laurel & Hardy and Our Gang during the 1930s. Only 10 epsiodes were filmed and for various reasons due mostly to studio troubles, The Veil was never broadcast but has been hailed by TV critics as “the greatest television show never seen”. The series can, however, be found on DVD and now includes 2 missing episodes not originally part of the series but were purchased by Roach Studios and made part of it.

The original 10 episodes are “Vision of Crime,” “Girl on the Road,” “Food on the Table,” “The Doctors,” “The Crystal Ball,” “Genesis,” “Destination Nightmare,” “Summer Heat,” “The Return of Madame Vernoy,” and “Jack the Ripper”. The two additional episodes are “Peggy” and “Vestris“. Vestris, ironically, was also the original production name for The Veil.

Although not set specifically during the Victorian era, there are several episodes set during the period.  For an early television series, The Veil is a very well written, acted and produced show which was the forerunner of another Karloff starred anthology series, Thriller. Each show is introduced by Karloff (just like Rod Serling in The Twilight Zone), who makes an appearance in all but one episode (Jack the Ripper) and deals with supposedly true tales of the supernatural happening to ordinary everyday people.

Karloff’s career
It is always a rare treat to watch Boris Karloff in action. A great actor who in film was typecast as the sinister villian was, in real life, a very kind man who was known to dress up as Father Christmas and visit sick children in hospitals on Christmas Day. Born Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887 in London, England Henry emigrated to Canada in 1909 and took up various odd jobs before falling into acting on stage.  Not long after starting his acting career, he changed his name to Boris Karloff after a character in a novel. His breakthrough role was, of course, Frankenstein (1931). He starred in two sequels to the original film, Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He originated the role of Imhotep in The Mummy (1932) and the Mask of Fu Manchu (1933).  Karloff was also well known for playing mad scientists such as the one he played in House of Frankenstein (1944) and other notable horror roles such as The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935) and The Tower of London (1939). Karloff played the role of the gangster in the original theater production of Arsenic and Old Lace (1941). He continued his acting well into the 1960s with Roger Corman’s The Terror (1963), which also starred a very young Jack Nicholson, as well as voicing the Grinch in cartoon version of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1968).

Boris Karloff (Henry Pratt)

I highly recommend watching Boris Karloff as he entertains us with “another strange and unsual story which lies behind The Veil“.


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