CineSavant Column

Saturday December 19, 2020



As they say up on Gower Gulch,  I Cunha Believe It.  It’s been leaked that The Film Detective has plans to follow its remastered disc of Giant from the Unknown with a second Richard E. Cunha Astor Pictures release, the occasionally indescribable Frankenstein’s Daughter.  I have to say I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Cunha’s other two cinematic masterpieces, She Demons and Missile to the Moon. Did they shoot these pictures back-to-back?  All four were released in 1958 and I’ll bet they were filmed to become a pair of double bills.

All four titles might dwell at the weak end of ’50s drive-in exploitation — just look at the trashy posters sometime — but more likely than not they made their money back and then some. I found She Demons to be the most fun, being high-camp schlock with a starring performance from Irish McCalla. It’s also in terrible taste. And I’m here to testify that I saw Missile to the Moon when it was new. I loved it, especially the dreaded lunar ‘Rock Men.’  At age eight I thought they were really scary.

Since Paramount has some rights to these pictures, I wonder if they’re getting released because the corporation fronted for new transfers. I hope all four come out remastered and widescreen-formatted. Giant is announced, Frankenstein’s Daughter seems pretty likely, and at this point I need to emphasize that Demons & Missile are just CineSavant wishful thinking.



Dick Dinman’s latest Classics Corner On the Air show centers on the William Wyler favorite Roman Holiday with the participation of discussion guest Catherine Wyler — and a special ‘cameo’ appearance by Cecilia Peck.



And roving researcher Gary Teetzel comes through with two fun links. The first I may have put up before, it’s an link to the entire run of the magazine Fantastic Monsters of the Films, the one put together by Paul Blaisdell and Bob Burns way back in the early ‘sixties. I think I only had two issues, but I read them until they fell apart. Now they’re fun to read for the ‘coming soon’ columns that list movies that never happened, or that underwent title changes. Example: A.I.P.’s then-upcoming Panic in Year Zero!  is listed under the title Survival.



Gary also sends along a real find, an episode of TV’s The Jack Benny Program starring Billy Wilder, from 1962. Billy is pretty good — when Jack opens the door at about seventeen minutes in, the tall wilder is leaning on the doorjam in what looks like a typical pose. We wonder if the celebrity value of Billy Wilder might have been lost on average audiences across the country, even though UA had been promoting him as a star director, like Alfred Hitchcock.

Gary located an even more arcane director guest-starring on a TV comedy sitcom: Charles Vidor on the George Burns & Gracie Allen Show. It’s from 1958. I guess now I know what Charles Vidor looked and sounded like.



And finally, author David Schow comes through with a great YouTube piece — A Conversation with Rod Serling. Serling talks like he does on his Twilight Zone intros, with a mild case of lockjaw. It certainly makes him stand out as an individual. He’s also naturally erudite … in other words, I’m jealous. It’s 1968 and he’s not happy that anthology series can’t get on the air. Rod smokes throughout, and even coughs now and then.

The moderators are Bernie Harrison and the author James Dickey, the author of Deliverance. His authentic Southern voice arrives first at 4:55!  Expect plenty of talk about intellectual deserts on television, a medium that Dickey calls a platform for the delivery of commercials.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson