Universal Classic Monsters
|Universal Classic Monsters|
Official franchise logo as displayed on home video releases
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Universal Classic Monsters is a name given to the horror, fantasy, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Pictures during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. They began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, both silent films starring Lon Chaney. Universal continued with talkies including monster franchises Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The films often featured Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.
In 1923, Universal produced the drama The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Lon Chaney as Quasimodo. The production sets were built to evoke 15th-century Paris, including a re-creation of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.
Chaney stars as The Phantom in 1925's horror film, The Phantom of the Opera, based on the mystery novel by Gaston Leroux. The interior of the Opéra Garnier was recreated to scale and was used again in the 1943 remake with Claude Rains.
In 1931, Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula and Boris Karloff portrayed the monster in Frankenstein. Actors Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan, who played major supporting roles in both films, made several film appearances in this decade. Make-up artist Jack Pierce created several monsters' make-up starting in the 1930s.
The Mummy, starring Karloff, was produced in 1932. This was followed by a trilogy of films based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) starring Lugosi, The Black Cat (1934), and The Raven (1935), the latter two of which teamed Lugosi with Karloff. Universal began releasing sequels including Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula's Daughter (1936) and sequels for The Invisible Man (1933). The first mainstream werewolf picture, Werewolf of London (1935) starring Henry Hull, was not a box office triumph despite being revered by audiences today.
The end of Universal’s first run of horror films came in 1936. The monster movies were dropped from the production schedule altogether and would not re-emerge for another three years. In the meantime, a theatre owner revived Dracula and Frankenstein as a resoundingly successful double feature, prompting the studio to re-release the original movies. Son of Frankenstein (1939), starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi, was filmed as a result of the unexpected resurgence.
During the 1940s, Universal released The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney Jr. The junior Chaney became the studio's leading monster movie actor in the 1940s, just as his father had been two decades earlier, supplanting the 1930s' Karloff and Lugosi by a wide margin in terms of the number of leading roles that he played. Chaney Jr. physically resembled his father apart from usually being somewhat overweight, which the senior Chaney never was. The studio dropped the "Jr." from the junior Chaney's billing almost immediately to confuse some in the audiences into assuming that this was the same actor.
The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Chaney Jr. played Frankenstein's monster and Lugosi reprised his role as Ygor, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster and Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man. Son of Dracula (1943) featured Chaney Jr. in Lugosi's original role as the Count. The Mummy series was also continued with The Mummy's Hand (1940), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse (both 1944) with Chaney Jr. as the Mummy in the last three films. House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) featured many of the monsters from the studio's previous films. As the decade drew to a close, the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) features Lugosi in only his second film as Count Dracula, alongside Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster. Abbott and Costello also appeared in films featuring characters such as the Mummy and the Invisible Man.
Creature from the Black Lagoon, directed by Jack Arnold, was released in 1954. Dracula and Frankenstein were re-released as double features in theatres, and were later broadcast in syndication on American television in 1957 as part of the Shock Theater package of Universal Monster Movies. Magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland covered the monster films. Universal spent the last half of the decade issuing a number of one-shot monster films.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame||September 2, 1923||Wallace Worsley||Edward T. Lowe, Jr. & Perley Poore Sheehan||Carl Laemmle|
|The Phantom of the Opera||November 25, 1925||Rupert Julian||Walter Anthony, Elliott J. Clawson, Bernard McConville, Frank M. McCormack, Tom Reed, Raymond L. Schrock, Jasper Spearing & Richard Wallace|
|The Cat and the Canary||September 9, 1927||Paul Leni||Alfred A. Cohn||Alfred A. Cohn & Robert F. Hill||Paul Kohner|
|The Man Who Laughs||November 4, 1928||J. Grubb Alexander, Walter Anthony, Mary McLean & Charles E. Whittaker|
|The Last Performance||November 1929||Paul Fejos||Walter Anthony, James Ashmore Creelman & Tom Reed||Carl Laemmle and Carl Laemmle Jr.|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|The Cat Creeps||November 10, 1930||Rupert Julian||William J. Hurlbut & Gladys Lehman||Carl Laemmle, Jr.|
|La Voluntad del muerto||1930||George Melford & Enrique Tovar Avalos||Baltasar Fernández Cué||Gladys Lehman & William Hurlbut||Paul Kohner|
|Dracula||February 14, 1931||Tod Browning||Garrett Fort||Tod Browning and Carl Laemmle, Jr.|
|Dracula||April 24, 1931||George Melford||Baltasar Fernández Cué and Garret Fort||Garret Fort||Carl Laemmle Jr. and Paul Kohner|
|Frankenstein||November 21, 1931||James Whale||Francis Edward Faragoh & Garrett Fort||John L. Balderston||Carl Laemmle Jr.|
|Murders in the Rue Morgue||February 21, 1932||Robert Florey||Tom Reed & Dale Van Every||Robert Florey|
|The Old Dark House||February 21, 1932||James Whale||R. C. Sherriff & Benn W. Levy|
|The Mummy||December 22, 1932||Karl Freund||John L. Balderston||Nina Wilcox Putnam & Richard Schayer|
|The Secret of the Blue Room||July 20, 1933||Kurt Neumann||Willim J. Hurlbut|
|The Invisible Man||November 13, 1933||James Whale||R. C. Sherriff|
|The Black Cat||June 7, 1934||Edgar G. Ulmer||Peter Ruric||Edgar G. Ulmer & Peter Ruric||E. M. Asher|
|The Mystery of Edwin Drood||February 4, 1935||Stuart Walker||Leopold Atlas, John L. Balderston, Bradley King & Gladys Unger||Carl Laemmle Jr. and Edmund Grainger|
|The Bride of Frankenstein||April 20, 1935||James Whale||William Hurlbut||William Hurlbut & John L. Balderston||Carl Laemmle Jr.|
|Werewolf of London||May 13, 1935||Stuart Walker||John Colton, Robert Harris, Harvey Gates, Edmund Pearson, James Mulhauser & Aben Kandel||Robert Harris||Stanley Bergerman|
|The Raven||July 8, 1935||Louis Friedlander||David Boehm||Carl Laemmle Jr. and David Diamond|
|The Invisible Ray||January 20, 1936||Lambert Hillyer||John Colton||Carl Laemmle Jr. and Edmund Grainger|
|Night Key||May 2, 1937||Lloyd Corrigan||Tristram Tupper & John C. Moffitt||William Pierce||Robert Pressnel|
|Dracula's Daughter||May 11, 1936||Lambert Hillyer||Garrett Fort||Oliver Jeffries||E. M. Asher|
|The Phantom Creeps||January 7, 1939||Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind||George Plympton, Basil Dickey & Mildred Barish||Willis Cooper||Henry MacRae|
|Son of Frankenstein||January 13, 1939||Rowland V. Lee||Wyllis Cooper||Rowland V. Lee|
|Tower of London||November 17, 1939||Robert N. Lee|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|The Invisible Man Returns||January 12, 1940||Joe May||Kurt Siodmak & Lester Cole||Kurt Siodmak & Joe May||Ken Goldsmith|
|Black Friday||April 12, 1940||Arthur Lubin||Curt Siodmak and Eric Taylor||Burt Kelly|
|The Mummy's Hand||November 20, 1940||Christy Cabanne||Griffin Jay and Maxwell Shane||Ben Pivar|
|The Invisible Woman||December 12, 1940||A. Edward Sutherland||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & Gertrude Purcell||Curt Siodmak & Joe May||Burt Kelly|
|Man-Made Monster||March 28, 1941||George Waggner||Joseph West||H.J. Essex, Len Golos & Sid Schwartz||Jack Bernhard|
|Horror Island||Maurice Tombragel & Victor McLeod||Alex Gottlieb|
|The Black Cat||February 5, 1941||Albert S. Rogell||Robert Lees & Robert Neville||Robert Lees & Robert Neville||Burt Kelly|
|The Wolf Man||December 12, 1941||George Waggner||Curt Siodmak||George Waggner|
|The Mad Doctor of Market Street||February 12, 1942||Joseph H. Lewis||Al Martin||Paul Malvern|
|The Ghost of Frankenstein||March 13, 1942||Erle C. Kenton||W. Scott Darling||Eric Taylor||George Waggner|
|The Strange Case of Doctor Rx||April 17, 1942||William Nigh||Clarence Upson Young||Alex Bottlieb||Jack Bernhard|
|The Mystery of Marie Roget||April 23, 1942||Phil Rosen||Michel Jacoby||Paul Malvern|
|Invisible Agent||April 17, 1942||Edwin L. Marin||Curtis Siodmak||Frank Lloyd|
|Night Monster||October 20, 1942||Ford Beebe||Clarence Upson Young||Ford Beebe|
|The Mummy's Tomb||October 23, 1942||Harold Young||Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher||Neil P. Varnick||Ben Pivar|
|Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man||March 5, 1943||Roy William Neill||Curt Siodmak||George Waggner|
|Captive Wild Woman||June 4, 1943||Edward Dmytryk||Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher||Ted Fithian & Neil P. Varnick||Ben Pivar|
|Phantom of the Opera||August 12, 1943||Arthur Lubin||Samuel Hoffenstein & Eric Taylor||John Jacoby||George Waggner|
|Son of Dracula||November 5, 1943||Robert Siodmak||Eric Taylor||Curtis Siodmak||Ford Beebe and Donald H. Brown|
|The Mad Ghoul||November 12, 1943||James Hogan||Paul Gangelin & Brenda Weisberg||Hans Kraly||Benjamin Pivar|
|Calling Dr. Death||December 17, 1943||Reginald LeBorg||Edward Dein||Ben Pivar|
|Weird Woman||March 1, 1944||Reginald Le Borg||Brenda Weisberg||W. Scott Darling||Ben Pivar and Oliver Drake|
|Jungle Woman||March 1, 1944||Reginald LeBorg||Henry Sucher, Bernard Schubert & Edward Dein||Henry Sucher||Will Cowan|
|The Invisible Man's Revenge||June 9, 1944||Ford Beebe||Bertram Millhauser||Ford Beebe|
|The Mummy's Ghost||July 7, 1944||Reginald LeBorg||Griffin Jay, Henry Sucher & Brenda Weisberg||Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher||Ben Pivar|
|The Climax||October 20, 1944||George Waggner||Curt Siodmak, Lynn Starling & George Waggner||Curt Siodmak||George Waggner|
|Dead Man's Eyes||November 10, 1944||Reginald Le Borg||Dwight V. Babcock||Ben Pivar and Will Cowan|
|The Mummy's Curse||December 22, 1944||Leslie Goodwins||Bernard Schubert||Leon Abrams & Dwight V. Babcock||Oliver Drake|
|The House of Frankenstein||February 16, 1945||Erle C. Kenton||Edward T. Lowe||Curt Siodmak||Paul Malvern|
|The Frozen Ghost||June 1, 1945||Harold Young||Bernard Schubert & Luci Ward||Harrison Carter & Henry Sucher||Will Cowan|
|Jungle Captive||June 29, 1945||Dwight V. Babcock & M. Coates Webster||Dwight V. Babcock||Morgan B. Cox|
|Strange Confession||October 5, 1945||John Hoffman||M. Coates Webster||Jean Bart||Ben Pivar|
|House of Dracula||June 29, 1945||Eric C. Kenton||Edward T. Lowe||Dwight V. Babcock & George Bricker||Paul Malvern|
|Pillow of Death||December 14, 1945||Wallace Fox||George Bricker||Dwight V. Babcock||Ben Pivar|
|The Spider Woman Strikes Back||March 22, 1946||Arthur Lubin||Eric Taylor||Howard Welsch|
|House of Horrors||March 22, 1946||Jean Yarbrough||George Bricker||Dwight V. Babcock||Ben Pivar|
|She-Wolf of London||March 29, 1946|
|The Cat Creeps||May 17, 1946||Erle C. Kenton||Edward Dein & Jerry Warner||Gerald Geraghty||Will Cowan|
|The Brute Man||May 17, 1946||Jean Yarbrough||George Bricker & M. Coates Webster||Dwight V. Babcock||Ben Pivar|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein||May 17, 1946||Charles T. Barton||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & John Grant||Robert Arthur|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff||May 17, 1946||Hugh Wedlock Jr., Howard Snyder & John Grant||Hugh Wedlock Jr. & Howard Snyder|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man||March 19, 1951||Charles Lamont||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & John Grant||Hugh Wedlock Jr. & Howard Snyder||Howard Christie|
|The Strange Door||December 8, 1951||Joseph Pevney||Jerry Sackheim||Ted Richmond|
|The Black Castle||November 20, 1952||Nathan Juran||Jerry Sackheim||William Alland|
|It Came from Outer Space||May 27, 1953||Jack Arnold||Harry Essex||Ray Bradbury|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Constello Meet
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
|August 12, 1953||Charles Lamont||Lee Loeb & John Grant||Sidney Fields & Grant Garrett||Howard Christie|
|Creature from the Black Lagoon||February 12, 1954||Jack Arnold||Harry Essex & Arthur Ross||Maurice Zimm||William Alland|
|Cult of the Cobra||May 30, 1955||Francis D. Lyon||Jerry Davis, Cecil Maiden & Richard Collins||Jerry Davis||Howard Pine|
|This Island Earth||June 10, 1955||Joseph Newman & Jack Arnold||Franklin Coen & Edward G. O'Callaghan||William Alland|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet
|May 23, 1955||Charles Lamont||John Grant||Lee Loeb||Howard Christie|
|Tarantula!||November 23, 1955||Jack Arnold||Robert M. Fresco & Martin Berkeley||Jack Arnold & Robert M. Fresco|
|The Creature Walks Among Us||April 26, 1956||John Sherwood||Arthur Ross||William Alland|
|Curucu, Beast of the Amazon||December 1, 1956||Curt Siodmak||Richard Kay and Harry Rybnick|
|The Mole People||Virgil Vogel||László Görög||William Alland|
|The Incredible Shrinking Man||February 22, 1957||Jack Arnold||Richard Matheson & Richard Alan Simmons||Albert Zugsmith|
|The Deadly Mantis||May 26, 1957||Nathan Juran||Martin Berkeley||William Alland|
|The Land Unknown||October 30, 1957||Virgin Vogel||László Görög||Charles Palmer & William N. Robson||William Alland|
|The Monolith Monsters||December 18, 1957||John Sherwood||Norman Jolley & Robert M. Fresco||Jack Arnold & Robert M. Fresco||Howard Christie|
|The Thing That Couldn't Die||May 7, 1958||Will Cowan||David Duncan||Will Cowan|
|Monster on the Campus||December 17, 1958||Jack Arnold||David Duncan||Joseph Gershenson|
|Curse of the Undead||May 1, 1959||Edward Dein||Edward Dein & Mildred Dein|
|The Leech Woman||July 7, 1960||Edward Dein||David Duncan||Ben Pivar & Francis Rosenwald|
Recurring cast and characters
- This table only includes characters which have appeared in multiple films within this shared universe.
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
- A G Cedric Hardwicke played the son of Henry Frankenstein, he also played the ghost of Henry Frankenstein.
- A P indicates the character was shown in a photograph.
- A U indicates a uncredited role.
- A V indicates a voice-only role.
|Dracula||July 13, 1979||John Badham||W. D. Richter||Marvin Mirisch and Walter Mirisch|
|The Mummy||May 7, 1999||Stephen Sommers||Lloyd Fonvielle & Kevin Jarre and Stephen Sommers||James Jacks and Sean Daniel|
|The Mummy Returns||May 4, 2001||Stephen Sommers|
|The Scorpion King||April 19, 2002||Chuck Russell||Stephen Sommers, William Osborne & David Hayter||Stephen Sommers & Jonathan Hales||Sean Daniel, James Jacks, Vince McMahon, Kevin Misher and Stephen Sommers|
|Van Helsing||May 7, 2004||Stephen Sommers||Stephen Sommers and Bob Ducsay|
|The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||August 1, 2008||Rob Cohen||Alfred Gough & Miles Millar||Stephen Sommers, Sean Daniel, James Jacks and Bob Ducsay|
|The Wolfman||February 12, 2010||Joe Johnston||Andrew Kevin Walker & David Self||Sean Daniel, Scott Stuber, Benicio del Toro and Rick Yorn|
|Dracula Untold||October 10, 2014||Gary Shore||Mark Sazama & Burk Sharpless||Michael De Luca|
|The Mummy||June 9, 2017||Alex Kurtzman||David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie & Dylan Kussman||Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet||Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel and Sarah Bradshaw|
|The Invisible Man||March 13, 2020||Leigh Whannell||Ed Solomon and Leigh Whannell||Jason Blum, Leigh Whannell and Kylie Du Fresne|
|The Bride of Frankenstein||TBA||Bill Condon||David Koepp||TBA|
Dark Universe is the term given by Universal Pictures to their planned cinematic universe, which will be based on the classic Universal Monsters film series. The studio's first attempt at this universe was with the film Dracula Untold. Released on October 10, 2014, with Luke Evans in the eponymous role, the film was developed prior to plans for a shared universe of horror films. However, it was retooled to be a part of the franchise. The film's mixed financial and critical reception resulted in the film's presence within the franchise to be downplayed.
Universal, which had announced plans to reboot The Mummy franchise in 2012, decided to market the new installment as the first film in the series. The Mummy was set to be released in 2017 with Alex Kurtzman as director. Also, Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were announced as co-runners of the Dark Universe, with collaborations from David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie. Along with the crew, Universal announced the casting of Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde, Javier Bardem as the Frankenstein Monster, and Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man. They would join Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, as Nick Morton and Princess Ahmanet / The Mummy. Bill Condon was announced as the director of the franchise's Bride of Frankenstein, originally set to be released on February 14, 2019. David Koepp wrote the film's script. Even though various sources stated that Evans would reprise his role in a cameo in The Mummy, in the universe, Kurtzman denied these claims, stating that he had considered the film to no longer be canon to the Dark Universe. Despite this, Evans confirmed that he is contractually signed to reprise the role, and believes that he will appear in further films. Additional rebooted versions of their characters were announced to have films in development as well including: the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The shared film universe's official theme music was composed by Danny Elfman.
On June 9, 2017, The Mummy was released. The film received generally negative reviews from critics, and was a box office disappointment. By November, The Bride of Frankenstein was pulled from its initial release, and lead producers/co-architects of the Dark Universe, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, left Universal and departed from the franchise. Universal has put a hold on future projects while they create a plan for future releases. Universal Pictures released an official statement reading:
"After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want[s] to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together."
In January 2018, development on the film progressed with Condon hiring a production team consisting of cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler, production designer Sarah Greenwood, composer Carter Burwell, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran. In May of the same year, artist Robert Vargas announced from his social media account that he had attended a meeting with the studio and will collaborate on the Dark Universe films moving forward.
Successful horror film producer Jason Blum, founder of production company Blumhouse Productions, had at various times publicly expressed his interest in working on future installments within the Dark Universe franchise. In January 2019, Universal announced that the plan moving forward was to focus on filmmaker-driven films, and less of an interconnection in the Dark Universe. The Invisible Man reboot was announced to be the next film in development, written and directed by Leigh Whannell with Blum signed on as producer. Johnny Depp is not currently attached as previously reported, but the studio is open to him playing the lead role. The following month Blum stated that production will begin some time in 2019. In March 2019 Variety has reported that Depp will no longer star in the film, while Elisabeth Moss has entered negotiations to co-star as Cecilia Kass. The Invisible Man is scheduled for a March 13, 2020 release date. Filming will start in July 2019.
- The Monster Squad (1987)
- Monster Force (1994) (TV series)
- Van Helsing: The London Assignment (2004) (DTV)
- The Mummy: The Animated Series
- Okuda, Ted; Yurkiw, Mark (2007). Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie. Lake Claremont Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1893121133.
The 'Shock!' package was sold in 142 markets. As a result, stations across the country aired a late-night Shock Theatre series to showcase these pictures.
- McClintock, Pamela (May 3, 2016). "Universal Stakes Out Release Date for Third Monster Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- Mendelson, Scott (July 13, 2016). "What Universal Must Do To Sell Its Classic Monsters Universe". Forbes. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
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- "'The Mummy' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying". Variety. June 8, 2017. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017.
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- "Dark Universe: the undignified death of a cinematic universe". Den of Geek. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
- Marc, Christopher (January 15, 2018). "Bride of Frankenstein Assembles Production Team - When Will It Shoot?". Omega Underground. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
- Schaefer, Sandy (May 18, 2018). "Universal's Dark Universe Might Not Be Dead After All". ScreenRant. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- Cunningham, Todd (July 20, 2014). "Blumhouse Signs 10-Year Production Deal With Universal Pictures". The Wrap. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
- "Spawn Producer Jason Blum Interested In Reviving Dark Universe". 18 August 2018.
- Kroll, Justin (January 24, 2019). "'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
- Kroll, Justin (March 1, 2019). "Elisabeth Moss Circling Universal's 'Invisible Man' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
- Verhoeven, Beatrice (May 20, 2019). "Blumhouse's 'The Invisible Man' Sets March 2020 Release Date". TheWrap. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
- Neibaur, James L. (2017). The Monster Movies of Universal Studios. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-44-227817-2.
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