The Fiend Without a Face

Posted on: November 8, 2011

The Fiend Without a Face…




…became Richard Gordon’s most well known movie, but most film fans do not know his name because he generally didn’t take a screen credit.  On the other hand, classic horror movie fans know him well as the producer of “The First Man Into Space,” “The Haunted Strangler,” “Corridors of Blood,” and many others.

I first met Richard Gordon over 30 years ago when he sold rights to one of my movies.  He began Gordon Films, Inc. in 1949 as an international sales agent importing and exporting films to the United States, and was still going strong over 60 years later.   He was the consummate film fan, particularly of movies from the 1930s, who knew every bit player as if they were family members.   During that time he produced two dozen, mostly horror movies, and was the last person living who had worked with both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.  Dick was working on a deal to sell a few of my movies to England when he was stricken a few months ago.

Dick was born in England in 1925, and was a textbook example of an English gentleman; reserved, articulate, private, well spoken, respectful, cultured (he had an amazing art collection,) mannerly (the type who would stand up when a lady got up from the table), and a canny businessman.  He upheld a custom, from an era of long ago, of hanging up pictures of his clients on the wall behind his desk.  But there was a lot more to Richard Gordon.

Dick and his friend Joe Cattuti, were devoted to each other, and the two of them travelled around the world for half a century.  Dick and Joe, and my wife, Donna, and I, had dinners with them which always lasted over 3 hours.  Joe and Donna would talk about all kinds of things, but it always started out about fashions.  Dick and I focused on movies: How it was going to the movies as a child in England; how he and his brother, Alex*, asked strangers to accompany them into horror movies (there was an “H,” for horror, rating which excluded youngsters from attending without an adult,) his time in the British Navy in WWII where he learned German (and how it helped him in business), how his father, whose favorite movie was “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924), hated his own job and encouraged his sons to go to America and give a shot at their passion.

I asked him what he thought about the fact that each of his movies entertained millions.  He looked bemused and responded, “Well, not quite millions.”   I defended my math:  First there were movie theatres, then countless airings on TV, and later cable, satellite, VHS, DVD, and now video on demand…all around the world.  He paused for a few seconds and the look on his face told me he had never actually thought of it that way before. (Tens of millions would be more like it.)  

One year I met him in Pittsburg at a horror convention where lots of old movies are shown, and old stars would sit in a room and autograph stills for a fee.  On the flight there I thought to myself that it would be completely out of character for Dick to charge for an autograph;  that he’d find it undignified, as well as disrespectful to his fans.  When I got there he was signing autographs, and not only didn’t charge for them, he provided the stills.   

Richard Gordon, a class act.


If you can only read one book over the next year, let it be “The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon”,0,4233442.story

Richard Gordon’s producer-brother, Alex, also had an interesting life in the movies…and was a great guy!: 


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4 Responses to "The Fiend Without a Face"

Well done old friend, and may he rest in peace.

Bob Blair


Thanks, Bob.

I thought you might like to read this comment from Bill Gilbert who worked with Dick through the years.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dick even more so because we had both lost contact in recent years.

Dick was one of the first Brits together with his brother Alex to go West from London in the immediate post war days.

I met him in the early sixties when he had production deals with friends such as Bill Chalmers of Butchers Films and Gerry Fernback ex Head of Republic Pictures in Europe.

In the sixties I was in acquisitions for BBC Television during the time when the American and British majors agreed not to supply theatrical movies to British Television. The British cinema owner threatened to boycott showing the films of any producers that licensed their movies to television.
The embargo lasted many years but Gerry and Dick found a way of acquiring many independent and library films to keep television supplied.

They also moved into theatrical co-production with mixed results but Dick continued to represent in the States many British producers particularly during the time when you could still license black and white British movies in syndication.

We also used to meet regularly in Cannes but in recent years Dick had stopped going to this event. For some years my daughter, her husband and grandsons have lived in Millneck on Long Island, also with a place in Southampton so our visits to the East Coast have mainly been with them rarely going into Manhattan.

I used to to business with Bill Becker, Saul Turrell at Janus/Criterion and Dick represented them in the international markets for many years.
Ironically, my company eventually distributed that library on behalf of Bravo.

When I heard the news I spoke to Jonathan Turrell who reported he had lunch with Dick about a month ago and he was in poor health.

Richard Gordon always maintained the bridge over the pond between the UK and USA and loved movies.

Bill Gilbert
William Gilbert Associates


[…] (the rights  are currently held by the Richard Gordon Estate after Gordon’s death in 2011); according to veteran film distributor Kit Parker’s retrospective on veteran film producer Gordon. Parker also recalled that Gordon’s Gordon Films also represented the international distribution […]


[…] “Fiend Without a Face” (1958) was released theatrically throughout Great Britain via Eros Films Ltd., the company was founded by  Phil and Sid Hyams; according to IMDB.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) handled the North American theatrical distribution/releasing rights to “Fiend Without a Face.”  Complete theatrical re-issue, television syndication and home entertainment licensing rights to “Fiend Without a Face” (1958) would later revert to Richard Gordon’s Gordon Films, Inc. (under the estate of Richard Gordon since Gordon’s death in 2011); according to veteran film distributor Kit Parker’s retrospective on veteran film producer Gordon. […]


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