Posts Tagged ‘“b movies”’
No way…I’m still finding too many interesting movies to release on DVD/Blu-ray.
Hard to believe Kit Parker Films just celebrated its 45th year in the distribution of classic motion pictures! Back in 1971 the 16mm non-theatrical industry was thriving, but it was largely owned by corporations which were passionate about money, but dispassionate about films, and the quality of the film prints showed it. I saw a niche to be filled — renting out quality prints at affordable prices, and Kit Parker Films was born.
The 16mm library expanded throughout the years until home video made inroads into the industry — the quality of VHS was marginal at best, but the price was right. By the 90s I branched out into the 35mm theatrical arena, eventually becoming the go-to source for classics in the 35mm film format.
In the late 1990s I realized the days of projecting celluloid were going to be replaced by DVDs, so slowly phased out the “old” KPF, and in 2001 began purchasing the copyrights to vintage films. Over the next 15 years my collection grew to include hundreds of feature films, television programs, serials and shorts. Many of my acquisitions required a great degree of patience and detective work to clear rights and locate suitable elements, but those efforts unearthed many films that had seen little or no exposure for decades.
Launching my library on DVD was a success, but like other producers, my profit was far too diluted by wholesalers, and their related “expenses” that I had to pay for, but that was the traditional method media (starting with books) made its way to stores and customers for over 100 years.
Amazon has been amazing for people like me who don’t like to go to stores. By 2015 they were by far the #1 seller for my DVDs. Over time I noticed that some items I’d buy would say “Sold by ‘Acme Company’” and “Fulfilled By Amazon.” Amazon is making 90% of my DVD sales…I had a lightbulb moment! I can’t say why it took so long for me to figure out I could sell exclusively through Amazon, pay their fulfillment fee and continue to grow my business.
This means I can continue to augment my release schedule and continue to take a chance on projects that may not even recoup their costs. How many people are going to buy a silent serial, or an obscure cult film? In this business you never know, but I’ve built my career on taking new risks.
So, I did it, and my new company, The Sprocket Vault, was born. Although TSV was created originally to sell my own DVD/Blu-rays, other producers have started approaching me to sell theirs…so my company is growing, and that means lots of new releases of interest for you.
I WANT YOU!
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OK, finally got enough requests to convince VCI release these two on DVD!
During the 1940’s – early 1950s before television killed “B” movies, army comedies, musicals (MGM or Monogram…didn’t matter,) themes about Tinsel town, and of course westerns, were guaranteed hits in small town and rural America.
Producer/distributor/exhibitor, Robert L. Lippert, decided to combine the genres for sure-fire hits. He did, and they were.
“G.I. JANE”, is a musical-comedy taking place at an army camp starring Jean Porter (sorry, not Demi Moore,) Tom Neal (Hollywood’s real-life bad-boy), Iris Adrian, Jimmie Dodd (“Jimmie” from the “Mickey Mouse Club,) and Jeanne Mahoney, with direction by B-movie stalwart Reginald LeBorg.
At a remote Army training camp in the desert, our boys in uniform want to do more than wave at the WAC’s, and a new recruit bets them $500 he can make this happen. A stern female lieutenant makes things tough but eventually it’s Mission Accomplished, the barracks filled with beauties and ballads.
“I Love Girls,” “Line-up and Sign-up in the Army Corps,” and “Nervous in the Service,” are a sampling of the musical numbers.
“GRAND CANYON,” a comedy with two songs (“Love Time in Grand Canyon” and “Serenade to a Mule”!) about Hollywood producers filming a western, staring Richard Arlen, Mary Beth Hughes, Reed Hadley, James Millican, Olin Howlin, Grady Sutton, and Joyce Compton, with Paul Landres in the director’s seat.
There’s grand fun, grand feudin’ and grand fightin’ in this spoof on low-budget Hollywood moviemaking. Assigned by Robert L. Lippert (who appears as himself in a pre-title sequence) to make a Western on indoor sets, Reed Hadley farcically tries and fails, and finally convinces the front office to allow him to shoot on “location.” Rural audiences howled when an Arizona cowboy showed them Hollywood types a thing or two about acting, and ends up with the starring role!
Here’s where the filmflimflam comes in:
The advertising claims the movie was filmed at the Grand Canyon, and a prologue to the movie even thanks the Department of the Interior for its cooperation. Sure, the exteriors are, but the scenes with actors, most of the movie, are filmed on sets, against process shots, or in a familiar location spot near L.A.…but who’d go see a movie called “Bronson Canyon?” There are a couple of scenes with “actors” filmed on location, but are in reality stand-ins, shot in such a way that the audience couldn’t tell.
The fight scene featured in “Mike’s” dream was taken from “The Return of Wildfire,” another Arlen/Lippert film. Arlen’s opponent in the fight is Reed Hadley, his “director” in “Grand Canyon.”*
Viewed today, these movies are fun to watch, but remember they were made for the Princess Theatre in Meredosia, Illinois, not the Radio City Music Hall.
*Thank you Bob Dickson for this tidbit.
The subject was “hazing,” and no studio would touch it…
Paul Henreid (“Casablanca”,) wanted a hard-hitting exposé of a problem he felt needed to be addressed…hazing. He pitched it to the studios, and each time was met with an emphatic “No.” So he financed, produced, directed, and starred in it. When he screened the completed picture for the studios, it was the same story…none would touch it. With his options and money running out, he sold the movie outright to producer/distributor, Robert L. Lippert, known for small-town, family-friendly B movies, the exact opposite of “The Tall Lie.” Lippert also released it under the more familiar title “For Men Only.” Although the small towns were shocked by it, business was brisk in college towns.
“Tod” (Robert Sherman,) a gentle pledge is forced to swim in freezing water until he almost drowns…and that’s before the main titles even start! In his screen debut, Russell Johnson, beloved captain of “Gilligan’s Island,” plays “Ky,” the sadistic president of the fraternity. Vera Miles (“Psycho”,) also in her first film, appears as Tod’s girlfriend. Tod’s grades plummet because of the unrelenting abuse. His professor, played by Henreid, takes notice and ponders whether hazing and the forthcoming “Hell Night” might have something to do with it. Nonetheless, he recommends that Tod’s mother sign a release to let her son take part in the final initiation. Big mistake.
“Hell Night,” the fraternity initiation of all initiations, starts off with the relatively tame ripping of the pledges’ clothes and painting their faces. Then comes the final initiation…shoot a puppy; this is 1952! (His friend “Beanie” (James Dobson) wants to be inducted into the fraternity so bad he stoops to drinks blood drawn from a live puppy.) Although Tod refuses, he is subsequently ostracized, hounded to his death as a coward. This prompts Henreid to push for an investigation and reforms, but is met with resistance and organized destruction of evidence, supported by college administrators and past pledges, bent on saving the good name of the college.
Censorship was an issue. Various state censor boards objected, but the distributors emphasized that it was an “exposé” and “educational,” an argument that generally had positive results. Then there was the UK where animal cruelty, real or implied, was strictly prohibited. Exclusive (Hammer) Films, the distributor throughout England, managed to get the picture passed without cuts by adding a lengthy written prologue (included in the DVD) revealing the evils of hazing.
Available on DVD from VCI Entertainment: http://www.vcient.com
The following movies were eventually released on good quality DVD’s:
APACHE RIFLES (Admiral-Fox/1964)
Picture and sound track were a jumbled mess. Technician at VCI eventually matched everything up. (I still owe someone a steak dinner!)
THE COWBOY (Lippert/1954)
35mm color negative ruined by mold. Used 16mm color “EK” (print from the original color negative) for the DVD. Black and white duplicate negative and color “separation negatives” survive. BTW, I had a blast producing the commentary track with the authentic old cowboys who were the stars of the film.
THE GLASS TOMB (Hammer-Lippert/1955)
Original 35mm material missing. Used 35mm release print borrowed from the British Film Archive
THE GREAT JESSE JAMES RAID (Lippert/1954)
35mm color material missing. Used a 16mm color “EK.” 35mm black and white negative survives.
LIKE IT IS (Psychedelic Fever) (Lima/1968)
Missing sound track. Used audio from a bootleg VHS bought on eBay. Sometimes pirates serve a useful purpose!
MAN BEAST (API/1956)
Master 35mm material was cut for release in the UK and the excised scenes scrapped. Used missing footage found in a 35mm US release print. Scenes that were deleted prior to its US theatrical release were found in a Spanish dubbed print and are included as a Special Feature on the DVD.
Color camera negative survived – without titles. Used titles off a like-new 1956 16mm color print I bought from a collector on eBay. Not the first time a film collector has saved the day.
MONSTER FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR (Palo Alto-Lippert/1954)
35mm sound track decomposed. Used track from 16mm Armed Forces negative, which was longer than the theatrical release version. Extra scenes are part of the DVD special features.
MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY (Republic/1941)
Nitrate picture and track negative decomposed. Used a “fine grain” master print borrowed from the British Film Institute
OUTLAW WOMEN (Howco/1952)
Original 35mm Cinecolor material decomposed. Used mint 35mm Cinecolor print
SEA DEVILS (Coronado-RKO/1953)
Combined 3-strip Technicolor negatives located at Technicolour in London and restored by Canal+, owner of Eastern Hemisphere distribution rights.
SHOTGUN (Champion-Allied Artists/1955)
Badly faded camera negative was all that survived. VCI technician was able to bring the color back to life in a tedious process of correcting the color scene by scene. (Another steak dinner, this one due Doug at Film and Video Transfers)
SINS OF JEZEBEL (Lippert/1954)
Original 35mm color negative missing. Used mint 35mm AnscoColor print labeled “Roadshow Version”. Could find no difference between the Roadshow and Regular release; not surprising given its penurious producer, Robert L. Lippert. Note: Fortunately AnscoColor, unlike widely used Eastman Color, does not tend to fade.
STRANGER ON HORSEBACK (Goldstein-UA/1955)
No color film elements known to exist. Used 35mm AnscoColor release print borrowed from the British Film Institute. 16mm black and white negative survives.
THUNDER IN CAROLINA (Howco/1962)
As with “Apache Rifles,” picture and sound track were a jumbled mess. Technician at VCI eventually matched everything up. (Guess I owe three steak dinners.)
AVAILABLE ON DVD FROM
There are movies which Kit Parker Films owns rights but cannot find suitable elements. Maybe you can help!
“The Black Pirates” (Salvador-Lippert/1954) Original AnscoColor negative missing. Duplicate negative with Spanish main and end titles survives, but was damaged by improper storage.
“God’s Country” (Lippert/1946)
Original Cinecolor nitrate negative decomposed in the 1960s. 35mm and 16mm black and white duplicate negative and sound track survive.
“Highway 13” (Lippert/1948)
Not really missing, but we had to use the 16mm negative which was less than optimal. I was told not to bother because the whole movie took less than 3 days to produce but, hey, it’s a mini-masterpiece!
“Rawhide Trail” (Terry and Lyon-Allied Artists/1958)
Nothing at all. The Allied Artists library was split between Warner Bros. and Paramount years ago, but this independent production was not among them.
“Mr. District Attorney in the Carter Case” (Republic/1941)
Nitrate negative decomposed. Not released to television so no duplicate negatives produced.
“The Incredible Face of Dr. B”
and “House of Frights”
Mexican films from 1963 that were also released in English language versions. Although the Spanish negatives survive, the English versions apparently do not.
“Let’s Live Again” (Seltzer-Fox/1948)
Only a mediocre 16mm negative and print survive.
“I’d like to see a big star shoot a movie with no retakes.” — Margia Dean
Margia (pron. Mar-Juh) Dean was born Marguerite Louise Skliris to Greek parents in Chicago on April 7, 1922.
Her hair is now white, but her charm, sophistication and sense of humor haven’t changed since the heyday of her film career.
By age seven she was earning money as a stage actress, playing Little Eva in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Becky Thatcher in “Tom Sawyer,” Mytle in “The Blue Bird,” and winning scholarships in two dramatic schools. In 1937, she won the Women’s National Shakespeare Contest for her role as Juliet in the production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
Margia became a model, and was named “Miss San Francisco,” “Miss California,” and a runner-up in the 1939 “Miss America Pageant” where she won first prize in the talent category for a dramatic reading (still has the trophy!) She appeared in several films in small roles and, played Police Officer Mary Faelb in the 1950 ABC TV series, “Dick Tracy,” had a featured role in the Columbia serial, “The Desert Hawk” (1944), and was Andy Clyde’s foil in “Love’s A-Poppin” (Columbia/1953).
In 1945, Margia scored the second lead in the stage version of Victor Herbert musical “The Only Girl,” which played at the then prestigious Biltmore Theater in Los Angeles. She received terrific reviews. Alfred Hitchcock came backstage and offered her a featured role in “Notorious” (Vanguard-RKO/1946), but she couldn’t accept due to a run of the play contract which necessitated her going on the road for several months.
In 1947, Margia’s controversial agent, Frank Orsatti, secured her a bit role in the Gene Kelly M-G-M musical, “Living in a Big Way” (1947). Orsatti convinced studio chief, Louis B. Mayer, to sign Margia to a contract. Unfortunately, Orsatti dropped dead of a heart attack the day of the appointment!
Margia was introduced to exhibitor and B-movie producer, Robert L. Lippert, in 1948 by a mutual producer-friend. Lippert gave her the female lead in “Shep Comes Home” (Screen Guild/1948.)
Subsequently, she appeared in a series of low-budget Lippert (I’m being redundant) productions, and mastered the “one take” 50 – 75 set-ups a day that were de rigueur for the Lippert organization.
Lippert became obsessed with Margia, and kept her working in his pictures where she became known as “Queen of Lippert.”
By the early 1950s Lippert and Margia began an on-again-off-again affair that lasted ten years. In an effort to keep her from straying from his studio and him, Lippert deliberately thwarted opportunities that would have allowed her to appear in major studio films.
Margia told me that she regrets being involved with a married man. However, he was already known as a womanizer. He didn’t get a divorce because he didn’t want to give up millions. She said that Lippert’s first love was money, and he would never have put her in a picture if it jeopardized ticket sales, and if he didn’t hire her he would have to find someone else to work for the same pay. Indeed, she generated respectable reviews from those critics who bothered to review B-movies. Margia was a competent actor and audiences liked her.
Producer, Hal Wallis, was interested in signing Margia and asked Lippert to send over footage of her for him to screen. Lippert provided outtakes, which ended the interest from the veteran producer. Margia didn’t know until later.
Fellow Greek, Spyros Skouras, recommended her to director Michael Curtiz, as “Nefir” in “The Egyptian” (Fox/1954), but Bella Darvi had just been cast. Skouras, was erroneously attributed as Margia’s lover in at least one blog, probably because she dated Plato Skouras, Spyros’ son.
Margia is best known as Judith Carroon in the Hammer Film Production, “The Quatermass Xperiment” (US title: “The Creeping Unknown”) (UA/1955), and her credits are readily available on IMDb.
She also made guest appearances on TV’s “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” “Conrad Nagel’s Celebrity Time,” “Public Prosecutor,” and others, plus various commercials including for Betty Crocker, Cadillac, and Phillips Milk of Magnesia.
Margia told me she appeared in one of the first coast-to-coast live dramas in the early 1950s, but can only recall that one of the “Bowery Boys” was in it. [Anyone know what it might have been?]
In 1958 she co-starred with Scott Brady in the RegalScope production, “Ambush and Cimarron Pass,” released through Fox, and received billing over a young Clint Eastwood, a subject she and Eastwood laughed about 40 years later at a Hollywood function.
Later in 1958, Lippert’s output was elevated to “A-“ CinemaScope pictures for Fox. Margia produced one of them, “The Long Rope” (1961), with Hugh Marlowe. According to Margia, the film’s director, William Witney, objected to having a female producer, but mellowed his stance when she brought it in on time and budget.
Margia co-starred in both “Villa!!” (Fox/1958), with Brian Keith, where she also sang two songs (and wrote additional lyrics), and “Secret of the Purple Reef” (Fox/1960), with Peter Falk.
In 1964, after associate-producing “The Horror of it All” (Fox/1964), directed by Terence Fisher, and starring Pat Boone, Margia met a Spanish architect who had been living in Brazil, Felipe Alvarez.
At the time, Felipe, who is fluent in four other languages, had limited English skills (Margia spoke Spanish) They met at a night club on the Sunset Strip where he sang. Subsequently, Margia invited him to perform at a party for Mexican celebrities. The couple fell in love and married later that year. They are happily married to this day, and he still occasionally sings professionally.
Lippert tried to get Margia to break off with Felipe, and offered her money and gifts, including a ruby brooch (all of which she returned), uncharacteristic of the penurious Lippert. He used to tell people he purchased a house for Margia, which is untrue. She sold her home and built a luxurious home above the Sunset Strip, which she completely paid for.
Although Walter Winchell praised her in his column, Lippert, who knew all of the producers and exhibitors, successfully blackballed her from making films.
Lippert used his considerable influence to concoct a scheme to deport Felipe, but was ultimately unsuccessful. However, he did succeed in getting Felipe fired from an architectural firm. Then he began a series of attempts to ruin the newlyweds financially. Margia lost a restaurant she owned in Beverly Hills, a dress shop in Brentwood, and he went so far as to have a “contract” put out on Felipe’s life! Through a very good friend (producer Jack Leewood) Margia discovered his nefarious plan, and called the police so fortunately it went no further.
Years later he told Margia, “I had no idea, my attorney must have done it!,” and “I have you in my will for $200,000,” both of which were lies.
By the mid-60s, Fox decided there was no need for the type of product Lippert produced, and didn’t renew his contract. His phone stopped ringing. Having lost both his producer position, and Margia, he headed back to the Bay Area and returned to his first love, his theatre circuit.
Upon his passing, Lippert’s secretary called Margia and said, “Mr. Lippert wanted you to be the first to know”.
Margia told me she was sorry to have made B-movies because it kept her from being assigned “A” roles. I disagree. Lots of A-list actors appeared in B-movies; it was a string of bad luck; the loss of the “Notorious” and “The Egyptian” roles, and especially Frank Orsatti’s death, the Hal Wallis sabotage and, of course, Lippert’s blackballing. The B-movie part of the equation was not the problem per se, it was the ones she was in were produced by Robert L. Lippert.
Fortunately, Margia went on to have successful careers, most notably in real estate, where she became vice-president of a major Los Angeles firm.
Margia Dean starring, or featuring Margia Dean in the cast and owned by Kit Parker Films.
(*) Available on DVD.
SHEP COMES HOME (1946)
I SHOT JESSE JAMES (1949) *
RIMFIRE (1949) *
GRAND CANYON (1949)
RINGSIDE (1949) *
TREASURE OF MONTE CRISTO (1949) *
TOUGHT ASSIGNMENT (1949) *
RED DESERT (1949)
THE BARON OF ARIZONA (1950) *
WESTERN PACIFIC AGENT (1950) *
MOTOR PATROL (1950) *
HI-JACKED (1950) *
THE RETURN OF JESSE JAMES (1950) *
THE BANDIT QUEEN (1950) *
FINGERPRINTS DON’T LIE (1951) *
MASK OF THE DRAGON (1951) *
TALES OF ROBIN HOOD (1951) *
PIER 23 (1951) *
KENTUCKY JUBILEE (1951) *
SAVAGE DRUMS (1951) *
LEAVE IT TO THE MARINES (1951) *
SKY HIGH (1951) *
F.B.I. GIRL (1951) *
LOAN SHARK (1952) *
FANGS OF THE WILD (1954) *
THE LONESOME TRAIL (1955) *
© 2014 Kit Parker