Horror Express 02/09/19

Arrow Video
Blu-ray

It’s a spooky, snowy train ride across thousands of miles of Siberian rails — trapped on board with a victim-possessing creature from outer space, with eyes that kill! Actually, ‘Pánico en el transiberiano’ is a fine show for Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, a Spanish-made chiller with a smart script, some effective shocks and a fun guest performance from Telly Savalas as a Cossack officer — make that a Bald Cossack officer. This new edition adds good extras to the excellent featurettes sourced from an earlier release. On Blu-ray from Arrow Video.
02/09/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday February 9, 2019

Hello!

Fun things first: I hoped that my little piece on ‘Tie-In Movie Novelty Songs’ in the February 4 CineSavant Column would elicit some responses, and several did come in, with suggestions that I’d heard of and others I hadn’t. Some have come with links!

To recap, last Tuesday Bill Shaffer started things going with

Jack The Ripper  by Nino Tempo & Pete Rugolo. I offered up
North to Alaska  and
Sink the Bismarck  by Johnny Horton, plus
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance by Gene Pitney,
Have You Heard of Bonnie and Clyde?  from a WB promotional record and
The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde  by Georgie Fame.

Here’s what came in:

‘efelesijr’ had no links, but mentions several Tie-ins of which I am unaware: “1) Vaughn Monroe did a Hercules tie-in song on RCA Victor. 2) Judy Harriet did a Goliath and the Barbarians tie-in called Goliath for American-International records, though the song is about a high school boyfriend who is as tall as a tree or some such. AIP also put out singles such as Bucket of Blood/The Leeches and Horrors of the Black Museum/The Headless Ghost.” (I can’t figure exactly what those might have been, though.)

Earl Baucom found a couple of those A.I.P. tunes, and more: The Nightmares’ Oooh I’m Scared from Horrors of the Black Museum uses Ross Bagdasarian-style tricks. The Headless Ghost is by The Nightmares as well. The Brides of Dracula apparently had an official tie-in called Dracula Cha Cha Cha, words and music by Rod McKuen (!), performed by Bob McFadden. Earl also sends along a similar Italian precursor, Dracula Cha Cha Cha from Bruno Martino. Yikes! (Although the Italian lyrics are pretty cute.)

Edward Parker Bolman suggested two tie-ins, with links: The White Suit Samba is an extrapolation of a goofy musical sound effect for Alec Guinness’s miracle fabric lab apparatus in a prominent Alexander MacKendrick movie. Also Anthony Restaino’s sleazy instrumental The Web from an endearing, heartwarming faith-based family classic. The song’s in the movie so technically it doesn’t qualify… but it’s a very cool song.

Todd Everett came through as well, with links to 1) Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte by Patti Page (Was that not sung in the movie? That’s also a technical disqualifier, but in the interest of encouraging entries I include it… 2) Restless Kid by Ricky Nelson, says, Todd, was originally to be sung in Rio Bravo, but was rejected in favor of My Rifle, My Pony and Me sung by Martin and Nelson and written by Paul Francis Webster and Dmitri Tiomkin; followed by the teen idol’s reading of the PD Cindy. Finally, 3) Todd’s wildest link is to Thunderball, but by Johnny Cash, not Tom Jones. It’s the least appropriate thing I’ve ever heard, unless you re-write Thunderball as a sequel to Blazing Saddles… but it is said to have been a real contender.

Finally, Bill Shepard names one we should have thought of immediately — Phil Harris’s The Thing from 1950. Is it a Tie-in to the Howard Hawks movie?  The title words are not really mentioned in the song, which appears to have no direct relation — except everybody seems to associate the two. Bill writes,

“I’ve always associated the novelty song with the movie, which came out shortly afterwards. Wikipedia says: The song aired on radio concurrently with a series of teaser ads which ran weekly in Collier’s promoting Howard Hawks’ science fiction movie, The Thing from Another World (released April 6, 1951). While the song had no connection with the movie, some suspect it was a clever marketing tool to increase interest in seeing the film.”

So there’s no relationship, except the one we choose to believe in?


Meanwhile, back in the land of revival screenings, Gary Teetzel alerts me to some attractive restoration screenings, a mini-festival, in fact. The 2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation screens from February 15 to 17 at the Billy Wilder Theater in the Hammer Museum in Westwood. The full list includes plenty of features, newsreels, silent oddities, noir rescues, animation, Laurel & Hardy, TV jazz performances, and an interesting-sounding 1944 item about a political refugee, A Voice in the Wind, which uses the haunting musical piece The Moldau, often excerpted in movies.

Of course, the title that grabs us genre fans the most is the elusive, legendary 1934 Mexican horror film from Fernando de Fuentes, La fantasma del convento. I’ve only seen ragged snippets… and how many Mexican films from that era even survive in screenable copies?

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday February 5, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

The Midnight Man 02/05/19

KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray

Murder strikes at a private college, and the new security guard’s efforts to find the killer uncovers sordid secrets and multiple unsavory conspiracies. Triple-threat Burt Lancaster directs, stars and heads a large, exemplary cast of suspects in a mystery that implicates practically all of them in something illegal. This is only part of the sprawling usual suspects list: Cameron Mitchell, Morgan Woodward, Harris Yulin, Catherine Bach, Robert Quarry, Joan Lorring, Lawrence Dobkin, Ed Lauter, Charles Tyner, Quinn K. Redeker, Linda Kelsey. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
02/5/19

Beyond the Limit (The Honorary Consul) 02/05/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Blu-ray

Retitled from The Honorary Consul and sold in America with one of Paramount’s sleaziest ad campaigns, John MacKenzie and Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of a Graham Greene novel about terrorist goings-on in dictatorships in Argentina and Paraguay features a fine Michael Caine performance, but prefers to stress sex scenes between star Richard Gere and Elpidia Carrillo. Just call it ‘Lust in the Argentine Littoral’ — but performed in English. Also starring Bob Hoskins. The Falklands War prompted the show to relocate filming to Mexico. This is a German disc, but it’s fully compatible with U.S. equipment. On Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
02/5/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday February 5, 2019

Hello!

For Los Angeles film fans interested in real historical arcana, The American Cinematheque has a very unusual presentation coming this Saturday at 7:30 at the Egyptian Theater. Programmer Chris Lamaire and USC head archivist Dino Everett will be showing some ‘weird short subjects on some weird formats.’ Old 28mm and 9.5 mm projectors will be present to screen rare items from the USC archive, including an essentially-lost Harold Lloyd short called That’s Him, and an English Walter Forde comedy, Walter’s Paying Policy. Some of the prints are over 100 years old. The presentation is called Silent Shorts in Rare Formats. I didn’t even know that 9.5mm film existed until I started reading stories about Kevin Brownlow. If this show goes well, the plan is to move on to screenings of more specialized vintage original archived material, perhaps films made in the arcane Kinemacolor process.


While discussing the new Severin Jack the Ripper release, associate Bill Shaffer wrote in to describe the deluxe sales job for the movie, for which Joseph E. Levine had prepared an oversized pressbook and a saturation media campaign. Bill also mentioned a novelty record he had, a 45rpm item that contained the movie’s main title theme on one side and on the B side a cool song sung by Nino Tempo with lyrics by Steve Allen, Jimmy McHugh and Pete Rugolo. The faux-hip Bobby Darin takeoff was definitely not a hit, but it is pretty funny.

A little while later CineSavant reviewer Charlie Largent found the actual novelty song on youtube: Nino Tempo & Pete Rugolo – Jack The Ripper.    Aw — they at least could have played it as exit music in the theaters.

Movie Tie-in Songs, ‘Novelty’ and Otherwise

I doubt that anyone dreamed of including the song in the movie, as Levine was probably just hoping for a hit to cross-promote his show on AM radio. But tie-in songs must have been some kind of fad. The next year Johnny Horton’s upbeat song for North to Alaska accomplished just that, scoring a radio hit and gracing John Wayne’s movie as well. Horton’s followup ‘country ballad march’ Sink the Bismarck was commissioned for the English movie about the famous naval battle but wisely only used in the trailer. Did Johnny Horton envision a big career turning every film into a country ballad with storytelling lyrics?  Why not Days of Wine and Roses, or Lolita?

We can imagine John Ford nixing a Gene Pitney song for his western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but Pitney did claim that Paramount paid for the recording session. Years later a tie-in song with a faux-1933 flavor was prepared for Warners’ Bonnie and Clyde called Have You Heard of Bonnie and Clyde?  It surfaced only on a tie-in record album of soundtrack bits and audio bites. A different Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde by Georgie Fame is the one that hit AM radio. Are there many more obvious tie-in songs I’m unaware of, that actually made a dent in the record charts?  For that matter are there other notables that stayed under the radar?


Scream Factory and Kino Lorber are apparently wasting no time rushing the entirety of Universal’s remaining 1950s sci-fi thrillers to Blu-ray. Recently announced from Kino Lorber is 1957’s The Land Unknown, for April 23. The ‘Lost World’ saga has an impressive production, especially an enormous, beautifully designed miniature setting for a vast tropical valled hidden deep in the Antarctic wastes. The mattes and other trickery placing the actors within the set are top-notch as well, and quite an achievement in CinemaScope. I’ll be eager to re-evaluate them once I see the show in higher resolution — the Japanese solved a similar anamorphic-format problem by shooting miniatures and monsters flat and then extracting a ‘scope image from the negative.

The other reason to check out the disc will be a new commentary hosted by Tom Weaver. Last year he wrote and compiled a book dedicated to Universal’s Sci-fi monsters of the first half of the 1950s, and we’re looking forward to volume two, which will take on The Land Unknown and The Incredible Shrinking Man.

The otherwise impressive picture is let down by some wholly unexciting, unconvincing dinosaurs, a ragged Plesiosaur puppet and the worst man-in-suit-a-saur thing ever cobbled together. Something went really wrong with that job; maquettes of the design look just as hopeless as the finished product. Compare Universal’s Tyrannosaur suit (right) with the less polished but equally inept Ceratasaur from Film Classics’ silly-fun 1948 dino romp Unknown Island (left).

What we really wanted to see were the monsters in the film’s superb poster art by Reynold Brown. Brown interpreted the ungainly dinosaur in an unusual manner, rather than cheat and give potential audiences a monster that would completely ‘cheat’ the one in the movie.

All the interest in the artist Reynold Brown is turning into a birthday subject here at CineSavant — I’m basking in anticipation of an art book of the illustrator’s famous posters, and when it arrives will put together a quick review.


Finally, a fond farewell to a fan favorite of sci-fi aficionados, Julie Adams.

The neat thing about Adams is that she was so obviously a LADY to us voyeuristic, hypercritical kids. Yes, the Creature carries her off, but with RESPECT. She’s not just any blonde burden in a swimsuit, she’s Beauty to the Beast — she ennobles the Creature. Even in Bend of the River, Ms. Adams’ personality prevails: she’s virtuous but not a prude. Arthur Kennedy’s dialogue and attitude say that Adams’ character has slept with him during their stay in Portland, but everything about Adams’ deportment says she didn’t. Amazingly, in the edgy The Last Movie, Adams found herself in Peru in the hands of a director who expected her to perform in several very sleazy situations, that were likely sprung on the actors partly by surprise. She DOES, with enthusiasm, because that’s the professional thing to do even when confronted by non-professional demands. In the final film we never for a moment think that Julie Adams’ status as a class act has been sullied.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday February 2, 2019

Happy Groundhog Day — !

It’s Officer Miller, the cop who sent Wally to jail. That was a fun night on the set. CLICK on it.

Yanks 02/02/19

Twilight Time
Blu-ray

A million American GIs are bivouacked in the English countryside, awaiting debarkation to France… and the green fields are loaded with young English women, whose own men have been off fighting for years. John Schlesinger puts together a good drama, with an excellent cast; he also avoids the expected ‘please wait for me!’ clichés attendant to this subgenre of war film. The exemplary cast finds a fine role for Richard Gere, while the lovely Lisa Eichhorn takes the acting honors. Especially good are the unusual pairing of William Devane and Vanessa Redgrave. Co-star Chick Vennera helps with a commentary track. On Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
02/02/19

Jack the Ripper 02/02/19

Severin Films
Blu-ray

“Is your name Mary Clark?”  The notorious English Baker-Berman team take on Whitechapel’s most notorious fiend, proposing that a mad doctor is responsible for slaughtering a score of streetwalkers in dark alleys, and throwing the city into a state of mortal terror. Writer Jimmy Sangster doesn’t do much with the parade of killings — — but he does think up a nasty fantasy finish for London’s most famous gut-ripper. More than a rescue than a restoration, Severin’s deluxe Blu-ray slipped out with just a few copies a couple of years ago, and now it’s getting a full release. The disc includes one version from a battered film print and another that looks like it’s been rescued from video. The extras include the ‘naughty bits’ alternate Continental scenes. I hope reviewer Charlie Largent gives us a full report on that. “Is your name Mary Clark?”  On Blu-ray from Severin Films.
02/02/19

Television’s Lost Classics Volume One: John Casssavetes 02/02/19

VCI
Blu-ray

John Cassavetes springs forth as a major 1950s talent in these two ‘Primetime Special’ dramatic plays broadcast live on ABC and CBS. Crime in the Streets is the Reginald Rose classic directed by Sidney Lumet; No Right to Kill is a ‘culture for the masses’ adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Cassavetes’ co-stars are Robert Preston, Glenda Farrell, Terry Moore and Robert H. Harris. The restoration of original Kinescopes is quite good in HD, and the producers Sabucat includes a racy ten-minute blooper reel from The Defenders and The Nurses. On Blu-ray from VCI.
02/02/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday February 2, 2019

Hello!

Orson Welles trackers take note: Gary Teetzel informs us of an upcoming Region 2 disc: Network in the U.K. will be releasing the 1973-74 TV series Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries on DVD, for those of you with region-free players. Of course, this was just a chance for some quick bucks for Orson; it’s of greater interest to us because the guest stars include a number of old favorites: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, Patrick Magee, etc. Plus theme music by John Barry! They’ve posted a Trailer.


I posted a photo from Richard Elfman’s Forbidden Zone; now correspondent Jonathan Gluckman emails in a link to a jazz-age song from the movie, “The Yiddishe Charleston”. I thought it was an invention for the film but it’s not — The Yiddishe Charleston hails from 1927.

I do worry that the song’s origin might be anti-Semitic, and someone please correct me if the song is a known offender, as opposed to simply un-PC fun. As Johnathan points out, one of the lyrics takes a potshot at the anti-Semite Henry Ford. Perhaps more information is in order? It’s a very good recording.


“For your protection all cars sprayed with insecticide as they enter!”  Also from Gary Teetzel comes a link to a page from a 1962 issue of the trade publication Box Office, reporting on yet another clever exhibitor scheme to lure carloads of snack-munching young-uns into a monster movie show, to see Them!, The Deadly Mantis, and The Angry Red Planet.

Way to go, Tri-State Drive-in at Joplin, Missouri: The ‘Bug-O-thon’ concept proved a lucrative way to repackage films already between two and eight years old. The ad appeal even had a tie-in with a local exterminator… just bring in the biggest BUG to win a contest. The whole idea was to get warm bodies in proximity to the snack bar, it seems, where a theater or drive-in reportedly made its real money. This seems like a page out of Joe Dante’s Matinee, although that was the Saturday afternoon show for the kiddies, not the weekend night passion-pit audience. But the year is exactly right.


And finally, some really happy news from Scream Factory, mainly that on May 14 it’s going to release the second and third Hammer Quatermass thrillers to Blu-ray: the B&W Quatermass 2 (1957) and the color Quatermass and the Pit (1967). The third film already looks very good on a Region B disc, so Scream’s iteration has every hope of being outstanding. I remember showing it to my teenaged kids around 1998, and they decided it was the best “X Files” episode ever made.

Quatermass 2 is one of my very favorite favorites, one of the best thrillers of its day and a major sci-fi influence on the James Bond universe. The much older DVD was reportedly taken from a rare surviving print, and could be greatly improved- on; I’m hoping that Scream’s master comes from some fabulous pristine source. My original review from 2000 is spoiler-free, but I’m looking forward to revisiting Val Guest’s amazing movie, and investigating it more thoroughly.


And lastly, Trailers from Hell gets an approving nod from the blog John V’s Eclectic Avenue. I will now go around identifying myself as ‘indispensible.’

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Tuesday January 29, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

In the Heat of the Night 01/29/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

Stirling Silliphant and Norman Jewison give Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger two of the best roles of their careers within a — shhh, better whisper — a powerful social statement. Down home racism meets its match in a murder mystery that helped calm the country in an explosive year. Warren Oates, Lee Grant and Larry Gates fellow-travel for this gem as well, and don’t forget the barrier-crossing song by Quincy Jones and Marilyn & Alan Bergman, sung by Ray Charles. Reviewed by Charlie Largent, on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
01/29/19

Gardens of Stone 01/29/19

Powerhouse Indicator
Blu-ray

Francis Ford Coppola’s get-out-of-debt directorial assignments of the ‘eighties may not be his most personal movies, but this one is satisfying just the same, with its marvelous, mellow ensemble cast: James Caan, Anjelica Huston, James Earl Jones, D.B. Sweeney, Dean Stockwell, Mary Stuart Masterson, Dick Anthony Williams, Lonette McKee, Sam Bottoms, Elias Koteas, Laurence Fishburne and Casey Siemaszko. It’s a movie to admire, as it’s not easy to attract an audience to a show about the Army’s burial detail. On Blu-ray from Powerhouse Indicator UK.
01/29/19

Posse from Hell 01/29/19

Explosive Media GmbH
Region A+B Blu-ray

Wow — a good Audie Murphy movie! The most decorated infantryman of WW2 might not emote professionally, but he did nail down a winning screen persona, and this show gives Audie a solid character to play. Clair Huffaker’s screenplay should take credit, as well as the workmanlike direction of former Wilder and Hitchcock assistant Herbert Coleman. Even John Saxon comes off well, plus the film can boast good work from favorites Zohra Lampert and Vic Morrow, and fine support from Rodolfo Acosta, Royal Dano and Lee Van Cleef. The import disc plays on domestic Blu-ray players. On Blu-ray from Explosive Media GmbH.
01/29/19

CineSavant Column

Tuesday January 29, 2019

Hello!

We’re short of links and scoops around CineSavant this Tuesday, so I’ll try to squeak by with a nod to discs in the review hopper, and those expected soon.

Currently being frisbee’d around for review are Kino Lorber’s Whatever Happened to Aunt Alice? with Ruth Gordon and Geraldine Page; Charly with Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom, El Paso with John Payne and Gail Russell; and The Group with (gasp) Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman, Shirley Knight, Joanna Pettet, Jessica Walter& Kathleen Widdoes; Powerhouse Indicator’s The Wrong Box with Michael Caine, John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore and R.P.M. with Anthony Quinn; Severin’s Jack the Ripper (1959) with continental inserts and the color finale.

Continuing on, we have Twilight Time’s The Return of Frank James by Fritz Lang, Untamed with Susan Hayward and Yanks by John Schlesinger; The Warner Archive Collection’s Jock Mahoney action pix Tarzan’s Three Challenges and Tarzan Goes to India; Arrow Video’s Audition, Joseph H. Lewis’s My Name is Julia Ross & So Dark the Night and Chris Lee and Peter Cushing in Horror Express; and finally The Criterion’s Collection’s La Verité with Brigitte Bardot, directed by H.G. Clouzot.

Due in between now and March 1 are Der Hund von Baskerville (Flicker Alley), Berlin Alexanderplatz, To Sleep With Anger and Death in Venice (Criterion), Scream and Scream Again, Mad Dog and Glory and The Midnight Man, and from Twilight Time, the hard to beat poker hand of The Admirable Crichton, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Talk Radio and Bedazzled.

But wait — we do have one very good link from John McElwee’s Greenbriar Picture Shows for January 27, 2019… John spells out, with pictorial evidence, the nature of the Darryl Zanuck / J. Edgar Hoover spat regarding Samuel Fuller’s unsustainable affront to the image of G-Men in Fox’s sensational 1953 thriller Pickup on South Street. Good reading, and in John’s marvelous ‘Hollywoodese’ writing style, too. After so many years, I wonder if John THINKS in that syntax as well!

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson

Saturday January 26, 2019

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Shame (Skammen) 01/26/19

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray

War no longer recognizes ‘innocent bystanders’: a married couple seeks to sidestep ‘civil disturbances’ by relocating to a rural island, only for the war to descend on them from all sides. Forget escapist post-apocalyptic fantasies: Ingmar Bergman demonstrates how the terror of war obliterates human values at the personal level. Human trust and morals fall fast under pressure — atom bombs aren’t needed to return us to the stone age of dog-eat-dog. Bergman stages impressive large-scale ‘action’ scenes, yet always relates the terror without, to psychological traumas within. It’s one of the director’s most affecting films. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
01/26/19

The Giant Behemoth 01/26/19

The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray

“Brace Yourself For A SHOCK!…200 Feet of Living Burning Horror!”  Eugène Lourié’s second feature about an irate sea monster wrecking a city features sober eco-preaching, good performances by Gene Evans and André Morell, and several minutes of exciting stop-motion animation nirvana. One just needs to overlook a few lunkhead effects scenes and concentrate on the key Willis O’Brien / Pete Peterson material. It’s a SHOCK all right — do you prefer to be stepped on like a bug, or fried by a zillion volts of ‘projected radiation?’  On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
01/26/19

CineSavant Column

Saturday January 26, 2019

Hello!

A quick discussion of the poster for The Giant Behemoth led me to websites about graphic poster artist Reynold Brown, and finally to this fun documentary on his life: The Man Who Drew Bug Eyed Monsters. I may have linked to it in the past. I admit that I skipped the ‘early years’ section, as well as the ‘anxious 1950s’ section, but the discussions of Brown’s work are very good. Great still photos show Brown and his wife taking action poses to be copied for his artwork. Plus, the director found great shots of American main streets with movie marquees. It’s fun looking at a shot like that and thinking, ‘that had to be 1955.’ They say that the reproduction of the posters wasn’t as good as it might be, but the two or three Reynold one-sheets I have look awfully good considering that the original artwork was so small. BTW, despite similarities, we think that the posters for Behemoth and The Day of the Triffids were painted by other artists. And it’s true, the coloration is similar but the samples of Reynold Brown’s work in the docu have more dynamism, and more of a 3-D effect.


Flicker Alley has something special coming up on February 5, a Blu-ray with a rare Sherlock Holmes adaptation, the 1929 German Der Hund von Baskerville. Directed by Richard Oswald (The father of Gerd Oswald), the show is one of the last silent German movies. The 1985 Horror Film Encyclopedia described the show as action- oriented, yet also visually moody. We never thought we’d get the chance to see it.

Carlyle Blackwell, the film’s Sherlock Holmes, was an American known for playing the two-fisted adventurer Bulldog Drummond. The villain Stapleton is played by a Fritz Lang favorite, Fritz Rasp. Flicker Alley’s disc comes with an ensemble music score and inter-titles in both German and English. Among other extras is (on the Blu-ray only) an earlier (1914) version directed by Rudolph Meinert and written by Richard Oswald. Oswald’s screenplay for this earlier version appears to have gone serial-sci-fi crazy, with the evil Stapleton using “a ‘submersible house’ to imprison Sir Henry Baskerville at the bottom of a lake.”


Well, Whattaya Know Department: snooping around for vintage trade mentions about various favorite genre pictures, intrepid advisor Gary Teetzel discovered a news blurb relating to the 1959 Fox classic Journey to the Center of the Earth. It’s self-explanatory, but in case the scan graphic doesn’t come through, the clipping (from perhaps 1956) announces pre-production on the film at RKO, to be produced by Stanley Rubin and directed by Eugène Lourié.

By 1956 RKO was already all but shuttered, so the pre-prod news was either a wishful-thinking Hail Mary gesture in case the studio’s fortunes turned around, or poor producer Rubin spun his wheels for nothing. Had I an inkling about the once-proposed Center of the Earth picture, I would have raced to ask him about it when I interviewed him in 2007. Rubin had produced at Fox and Universal but indeed was with RKO at this time — his film The Girl Most Likely (1958) was RKO’s final production, and actually released by Universal-International.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson