Professor Morlock

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The opening scene from the original “Professor Morlock” in which cub reporter Janet Lawton Mara Marini) begs editor Ed Thicke (Edward G. Robinson) to let her investigate the strange doings at the closed insane asylum.

Marini had achieved stardom with the previous year’s film noir hit “Dame with a Gun.” The first film in the Morlock franchise was designed as a star vehicle originally called “Janet Lawton, Girl Reporter” and was only retitled “Professor Morlock” just as the film was about to open and a real Janet Lawton was being tried on espionage charges, for which she was later executed.

Marini was said to resent the attention Jesse Merlin received for playing Morlock and accepted “Bikini Party on Waikiki Beach” to avoid taking part in the sequel. It turned out to be a happy decision for her since she wound up getting her first Academy Award nomination for the film. She would eventually wind up winning two Best Actress Oscars, for “Bikini Party on Pismo Beach” and for the movie remake of “Camille.”

Ed Thicke became a recurring character in the series, with increasingly obscure actors playing the role as the budgets decreased. A popular Morlockian note of trivia is that beloved character actor Wilford Brimley made his movie debut in the role for “The Ghost of Professor Morlock.”

Morlock's first attempt to transplant a woman's brain into a gorilla, from the first "Professor Morlock." There would be many others.