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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Gordon

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”

http://www.amazon.com/Horror-Hits-Richard-Gordon/dp/1593936419/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320263427&sr=8-1

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-richard-gordon-20111103,0,4233442.story

http://www.dvdjournal.com/reviews/f/fiendwithoutaface.shtml

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

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0329966/ 

 

Visit our website to order DVDs from the Kit Parker Films Collection –

www.sprocketvault.com

Keep up to date with our new Sprocket Vault releases by liking us on Facebook www.facebook.com/sprocketvault/

Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHjjG-o5Ny5BDykgVBzdrQ .

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“Bombproof,” in equestrian jargon, is a horse that can be put into any situation, remain calm, and persevere until the job is done perfectly.

Author Tom Weaver is just that way with interviews.  The ones he’s conducted with horror movie stars, directors and producers, throughout a couple of dozen books…are all winners.  He bats a thousand.

His latest, “The Horror Films of Richard Gordon” (BearManor Media, 2011), just came out, and I can’t wait to get my copy.  A Weaver/Gordon combo is guaranteed to be a page-turner.

Out of many interviews, there have been occasions when the interviewees are problems…want to give only “yes and no” answers, are boring, senile, or even drunk!  Even if all four, and the house is on fire, Tom somehow perseveres.  He prepares in advance, and works harder conducting interviews than anyone I’ve known.  He just makes it look so eeeeasy.

I first met Tom a few years ago when he agreed to come from his home in Sleepy Hollow,New York, toLos Angeles, and conduct interview/commentary tracks for one of my “Positively No Refunds” DVD double-features.  I’ve met him a couple of times since, and he’s always comes across as a warm, thoughtful, teddy-bearish sort of guy…quick-witted, a master of plays on words…with a radio voice.  He loves to wear comfortable clothes (I’ve never seen him in anything other than well-worn shorts and t-shirts,) and eat comfort food (packs more cholesterol in a day than most people do in a week, maybe two).

Now that I’ve introduced the Tom I know, the movies on the “No Refunds” DVD are “Bride and the Beast” (1958) and “White Gorilla” (1945).   Charlotte Austin, star of “Bride” was one of the participants, along with beloved science fiction movie icon, Bob Burns.  Both movies had “gorillas” in them, and for those who don’t know, Bob is the expert on movie gorillas. “Bride” bit-player Slick Slavin (Trustin Howard) also joined them. Tom didn’t need to worry about bomb-proofing with this group…just wind them up and let ‘em roll.  The funniest commentary tracks I’ve produced so far!

People ask me how I come up with those witty descriptions of my movies on the back of DVD covers.  The answer is easy…I don’t write them – Tom Weaver does.

The Horror Hits of Richard Gordon:

http://www.amazon.com/Horror-Hits-Richard-Gordon/dp/1593936419/ref=sr_1_19?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306199227&sr=1-19

Other Tom Weaver interview books:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_21?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tom+weaver+interviews&sprefix=tom+weaver+interviews

Charlotte Austin’s Filmography:

http://www.fandango.com/charlotteaustin/filmography/p2878

Bob Burns’ web site:

http://bobburns.mycottage.com/

 

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Visit our website to order DVDs from the Kit Parker Films Collection –

www.sprocketvault.com

Keep up to date with our new Sprocket Vault releases by liking us on Facebook www.facebook.com/sprocketvault/

Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLHjjG-o5Ny5BDykgVBzdrQ


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