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Posts Tagged ‘“Robert L. Lippert”

OK, finally got enough requests to convince VCI release these two on DVD!

untitled

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.

 

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tall lie

 

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 drinking 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.

 

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Al Parker #101152015

 

“I was born to ride…”

In 1953 Robert L. Lippert commissioned a feature film to be directed by noted film editor, Elmo Williams (Academy Award winner for “High Noon”), who is still alive at 102.  It was to star Lloyd Bridges, Lee J. Cobb, Marie Windsor and Luther Adler.  Lippert, always interested in getting talent to work cheap, got three of the stars at a bargain rate because they were HUAC-tainted, and needed work.

Production commenced in Deming, New Mexico, and local real-deal cowboys were retained as wranglers.  Among them, L.B. “Beau” Johnson, Robert Johnson, Ross May and Darrell Hawkins.

Both Williams and his wife, Lorraine, were fascinated by the cowboys who worked on the picture, and she envisioned a full-length documentary about cowboy life featuring the same cowboys who worked in “The Tall Texan.”  The estimated budget was around $50,000 (under $500,000 in 2014 dollars), low because there was no need to pay for stars, sets or sync sound.  The meager budget, even by Lippert standards, may account for why the penurious producer sprung for filming in color.

Both movies turned out very well, and made money.  “The Cowboy” was particularly successful in the Southwest.  Later, when it was released in 16mm, it became a perennial favorite at Indian reservations.

In 2004 I purchased the Lippert film library, and envisioned a DVD release of “The Cowboy” with the usual special features VCI Entertainment and I specialize in.  But, what special features could I come up with?

Later on I got a phone call from Bridget Kelly who worked with filmmakers in New Mexico, asking if the movie could be shown to an audience in Deming.  Of course I said yes, and inquired if she knew what became of the cowboys.  She replied that four of them were coming to the screening!

A commentary track featuring the actual cowboys looking at the movie a half-century later…yessss!

It was arranged to get them together for a recording session.  My wife, Donna, and I went to Deming and awaited the cowboys.  The first one, Beau Johnson, arrived with his wife in an old car that didn’t look as if it had been through a car wash in 15 years; papers all over the dash, license plate hanging on for dear life. There he was, complete with faded Wrangler’s, old boots, sweat-stained hat, and a big silver buckle, speaking authentic “cowboy,” of course.  Was he ever a warm and wonderful character.  His passion was race horses, and he owned them…why bother with a new car when you own championship horses?  Next came Beau’s brother, Robert, Ross May and finally Darrell Hawkins, great guys all.  Hawkins even gave me a lesson on trick roping.

I had prepared for the recording session with lots of notes and questions to toss out to keep the guys talking throughout, hoping they’d make comments about what was occurring on the screen without much prompting from me.  We rolled tape and Ross May, who had retired as a school teacher, took the lead as moderator…he was a natural…knew just how to keep everyone going as if he’d done it a thousand times.  Tossed my notes in the garbage…didn’t need ‘em.

The result was great…a group of engaging old-timers reminiscing, often humorously, and with cowboy jargon, about an era that has, for all intents and purposes, long since passed.

 

Donna and I recently got a call out of the blue from Beau Johnson.  Hadn’t spoken with him for many years although I had thought about him.  He had been in the hospital, and I guess had survived a couple of brushes with death.  His brother, Robert, is fine, but Ross and Hawkins are gone.  Beau, still his jovial self, told us how much our friendship meant to him, which was totally unexpected, and touched us very much.   He said he even kept a ribbon from a bottle of wine Donna gave him.   Beau had another reason to call…a favor…asked if we’d call Elmo Williams and wish him a happy 103rd birthday.  (It isn’t until next year, but we’ll be sure to call).

When we signed off, Beau told me he was born to ride a horse, and I told him “The Cowboy” commentary was the most fun I’ve ever had producing a special feature.

 

COWBOY, THE

 

Additional DVD bonus features:

“The Making of The Cowboy” by Elmo Williams

Video booklet

“Ghost Towns of the Old West – the Deserts” narrated by Rip Torn

 

Photos:

Top: Beau and Robert Johnson from “The Cowboy”

DVD cover:  Beau Johnson

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Sins

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.

 

MASSACRE (Lippert-Fox/1956)

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.)

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images91S61FZB

There are movies which Kit Parker Films owns rights but cannot find suitable elements.  Maybe you can help!

 

“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.

 

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30 Margia Glam 2 (2)

“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 from http://www.sprocketvault.com

 

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) *

 

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…producer-exhibitor Robert L. Lippert’s mantra and, appropriately, the title Mark Thomas McGee’s biography/filmography of the man and his films as published by BearManor Media.   I’m a B-movie aficionado, and this book is a real page-turner.

 

“I’m not in this for personal glory, I’m giving the public and the exhibitors the films they want for purely commercial reasons.”  – Robert L. Lippert

 

Robert L. Lippert, produced close to 250 feature films, including “The Steel Helmet” (1951), and “The Fly” (1958), and distributed scores more on behalf of other producers.  He launched the careers of Samuel Fuller, James Clavell, and others; and owned a theatre circuit of well over 100 theatres.  But, he flew under the radar to the degree that only hard-core movie buffs even know him.  My company owns all rights to over 100 Lippert productions, and I tried to shed at least some light on Lippert and his films in my blogs and DVD special features, but Mark does the job right.

 

Mark McGee wasn’t given an easy task:  Lippert shied away from giving interviews, and only two people who worked with Lippert are still living, actress Margia Dean, and production head/producer/director Maury Dexter.  Mark really did a lot of digging and I believe has revealed almost  everything about Lippert that isn’t lost to time.

 

Lippert’s biography is intertwined with Mark’s observations about the films as separated into four main chapters dealing with Lippert’s four production companies: Screen Guild Productions and Lippert Pictures (produced and distributed in-house), Regal Films, Inc., and Associated Producers (produced for release through Fox).  I think this was the appropriate method because in real life it was truly hard to separate Lippert the man from his movies (and his theatre circuit.)

 

Lippert seldom had artistic pretentions.  Many of his productions are at best less than notable — certainly by and large ignored by the critics.  Mark lists every, and describes most, Lippert film.  I really enjoyed the comments of exhibitors who actually played the films.  This was back in the day when every small-town theatre manager stood in the lobby and said goodnight to patrons as they exited.  Sometimes the managers hid, but most times the audiences for whom Lippert produced his films were more than satisfied.  Less sophisticated audiences during the 1940s and early 1950s often preferred Lippert productions over those from the major studios.  Don’t believe me?  Read the book!   I read every one of those critiques in one sitting.  Better than a box of See’s Candies.

 

Lippert productions and co-productions available on DVD from VCI Entertainment:

 www.vcient.com

Key: Theatrical distributors: LP = Lippert Pictures; SG = Screen Guild Productions; Hammer = Lippert/Hammer Films Co-production

APACHE CHIEF (1950) LP

ARSON, INC. (1950) LP

AS YOU WERE (1951) LP

BAD BLONDE (1953) UK: Flanagan Boy, Hammer, LP

BANDIT QUEEN, THE (1950) LP

BIG CHASE, THE (1954) LP

BLACK GLOVE, THE (1954) UK: Face the Music, Hammer, LP

BLACK PIRATES, THE (El pirata negro) (1954) US-Mexico, LP

BLACKOUT (1954) UK: Murder by Proxy, Hammer, LP

BORDER RANGERS (1950) LP

CASE OF THE BABY SITTER (1947) Featurette, SG

COLORADO RANGER – TV: Guns of Justice (1950) LP

COWBOY, THE (1954) LP

CROOKED RIVER – TV: The Last Bullet (1950) LP

DALTON GANG, THE (1949) LP

DANGER ZONE (1951) LP

DEADLY GAME, THE (1954) UK, Third Party Risk, Hammer, LP

DEPUTY MARSHAL (1949) LP

EVERYBODY’S DANCIN’ (1950) LP

FANGS OF THE WILD aka Follow the Hunter (1954) LP

FAST ON THE DRAW – TV: Sudden Death (1950) LP

FBI GIRL (1951) LP

FINGERPRINTS DON’T LIE (1951) LP

GAMBLER AND THE LADY (1952) UK, Hammer, LP

GLASS TOMB, THE (1955) UK: The Glass Cage, Hammer, LP

GREAT JESSE JAMES RAID, THE (1953) LP

GUNFIRE (1950) LP

HAT BOX MYSTERY, THE (1947) Featurette, SG

HEAT WAVE (1954) UK, House Across the Lake, Hammer, LP

HELLGATE (1952) LP-D

HIGHWAY 13 (1948) SG

HI-JACKED (1950) LP

HOLIDAY RHYTHM (1950) LP

HOLLYWOOD VARIETIES (1950) LP

HOSTILE COUNTRY – TV: Outlaw Fury (1950) LP

I SHOT BILLY THE KID (1950) LP

I’LL GET YOU (1953) UK: Escape Route, LP

JUNGLE GODDESS (1948) SG

JUNGLE, THE (1952) LP

KENTUCKY JUBILEE (1951) LP

KING DINOSAUR (1955) LP

LEAVE IT TO THE MARINES (1951) LP

LITTLE BIG HORN (1951) LP

LOAN SHARK (1952) LP

LONESOME TRAIL, THE (1955) LP

MAN BAIT (1952) UK: The Last Page, Hammer, LP

MAN FROM CAIRO, THE (1953) Italy-UK-USA, LP

MARSHAL OF HELDORADO – TV: Blazing Guns (1950) LP

MASK OF THE DRAGON (1951) LP

MASSACRE (1956) Fox

MOTOR PATROL (1950) LP

MR. WALKIE TALKIE (1952)

OPERATION HAYLIFT (1950) LP

OUTLAW COUNTRY (1949) SG

PAID TO KILL (1954) UK, Five Days, Hammer, LP-D

PIER 23 (1951) LP

QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1947) SG

RACE FOR LIFE (1954) UK: Mask of Dust, Hammer, LP

RADAR SECRET SERVICE (1950) LP

RENEGADE GIRL (1947) SG

RETURN OF JESSE JAMES, THE (1950) LP

RIMFIRE (1948) LP

RINGSIDE (1949) LP

ROARING CITY (1951) LP

SAVAGE DRUMS (1951) LP

SCOTLAND YARD INSPECTOR (1952) UK: Lady in the Fog, Hammer, LP

SHADOW MAN, THE (1953) UK: Street of Shadows, Hammer, LP

SILVER STAR (1955) LP

SINS OF JEZEBEL (1953) LP

SKY HIGH (1951) LP

SKY LINER (1949) LP

SQUARE DANCE JUBILEE (1949) LP

STOLEN FACE (1952) UK, Hammer, LP

STOP THAT CAB (1951) LP

THEY WERE SO YOUNG (1954) W. Germany-USA, LP

THREE DESPERATE MEN (1951) LP

THUNDER IN THE PINES (1948) SG

TRAIN TO TOMBSTONE (1950) LP

TREASURE OF MONTE CRISTO (1949) LP

UNHOLY FOUR, THE (1954) UK: The Stranger Came Home, Hammer, LP

VARIETIES ON PARADE (1951) LP

WEST OF THE BRAZOS (1950) LP

WESTERN PACIFIC AGENT (1950) LP

WILDFIRE (1945) SG

WINGS OF DANGER (1952) UK; Dead on Course, Hammer, LP

YES SIR, MR. BONES! (1951) LP

Lippert productions directed by Samuel Fuller arevailable on DVD from the Criterion Collection

BARON OF ARIZONA, THE (1950) LP

I SHOT JESSE JAMES (1949) LP

STEEL HELMET, THE (1951) LP

 

To order DVD’s, visit our site –

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When I think of movies like “Hellgate” (Lippert/1952), directed by Charles Marquis Warren, and “The Tall Texan” (Lippert/1953), directed by Elmo Williams (Oscar-winning film editor on “High Noon”), I marvel at how  directors like that were able to produce really entertaining films on a minimal budget (and an even more minimal shooting schedule.)

David Schecter does the same, only he thinks of the composers, in this case, Paul Dunlap and Bert Schefter.

“Monstrous Movie Music” is the name of David’s company.  He specializes in producing CD’s with music scores from lower-tier science fiction films, but there are a few “A” features as well. These movies were helped immeasurably by the gifted composers, who like their director and producer counterparts, relegated to the demands of low budgets and extremely tight production schedules.

Some bring back fond memories of my going to the movies as a kid at the State and Rio Theatres in Monterey, CA:  “The Blob” (Paramount/1958) composed by Ralph Carmichael; “The Last Man on Earth” (AIP/1964), composed by Paul Sawtell and Bert Schefter; “The Brain From the Planet Arous” (Howco/1957), composed by Walter Greene.  I remember as the end title on “Arous” came on the screen and thinking I’d just wasted $.50.  My disappointment was forgotten after watching the co-feature, “The Alligator People” (API-Fox/1959), composed by Irving Gertz, exemplifying there is no accounting for the taste of an 11-year-old.

David Schecter is a champion of composers, especially the lesser-known ones, many of whom he knew personally, and dedicates himself to making their scores available.  He and his staff have gone to the trouble of re-recording the scores utilizing renowned symphony orchestras in Poland and Slovakia when they aren’t releasing original soundtracks.  He write superb liner notes as well.

Monstrous Movie Music:

http://www.mmmrecordings.com/index.htmlb

The movies themselves are available on DVD from VCI Entertainment:

http://kitparker.com/buy.php

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“Hellgate,” starring Sterling Hayden, Joan Leslie, Ward Bond, and James Arness (one of my favorites), directed by Charles Marquis Warren, is part of the two-disc DVD collection titled, “Darn Good Westerns”  Volume 1, featuring five additional titles, “Panhandle” (Allied Artists/1948) with Rod Cameron, in “glowing Sepiatone,” and four from Lippert Pictures, “Fangs of the Wild” (1954),  with Charles Chaplin, Jr., and underrated actress Margia Dean in one of her best roles, “The Train to Tombstone” (1950) which is a Don “Red” Barry western, “Operation Haylift” (1950) with Bill Williams and Ann Rutherford, and “Wildfire – The Story of a Horse” (1945) starring Bob Steele, in Cinecolor, which was the first production from legendary exhibitor turned producer, Robert L. Lippert.

“The Tall Texan,” is a solid western starring Lloyd Bridges and Lee J. Cobb, with cool special features, including “The Making of ‘The Tall Texan’” by Elmo Williams (still alive at age 100!); audio reminiscences by Ross May, a wrangler for the movie; the original theatrical trailer, and Chapter 1 from “Secret Agent X-9” (1945).

On the subject of Elmo Williams, I highly recommend “The Cowboy” (Lippert/1954), a feature length documentary filmed in color.  Both “The Tall Texan” and “The Cowboy” were made in Deming NM where in 2005 my wife Donna and I went to produce the commentary featuring reminiscences of four of the original cowboys who starred in the film.  Listening to these authentic cowboys fifty years later is a hoot…worthy of a blog of its own.

*Usually credited as a Lippert production, it was actually an independent film from producer by John C.  Champion (brother of Gower), under his Commander Films banner.  Champion also produced “Panhandle.”

http://fiftieswesterns.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/50s-western-scores-by-paul-dunlap-and-bert-shefter/

Visit our website to order DVDs –

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 .

 

 

“Today we are engaged in a great Civil ‘Wah’”

— Maury Dexter, from the 3 Stooges short, “Uncivil Warriors” (1946)

Maury Dexter(1)(2) is one of the most interesting individuals I’ve ever seen in the motion picture industry, and he’s put his amazing rags to riches life into words in a well-written, page-turning, autobiography, “Road to Hollywoodthe hard way.”   

Maury was born into dirt-poor poverty during the Depression in Paris, Arkansas.   Early on, he developed a love of acting, which he parlayed into a successful career as an actor, producer, director of feature films and television programs and, of particular interest to me, head of production for Robert L. Lippert’s Associated Producers, Inc.    

Without the thought of having it published, Maury Dexter wrote his life story to fulfill a personal goal of putting his life story on paper.  Tom Weaver, who interviewed Maury in his book, “I Talked With a Zombie” (McFarland, 2008)(3), couldn’t persuade the usual movie book publishers to take it because they felt their readers might find fault with the first part of the book which covers Maury’s life before becoming involved in the motion picture business.  I suggested to Maury that he release it as an ebook, and after explaining what “email,” “Internet,” and “downloads” meant (He’s just fine with knowing absolutely nothing about computers), he agreed, but didn’t want to make money on it. 

Hat’s off to one of my favorite movie bloggers, Toby Roan, who produced the ebook, and Jim Briggs for designing it.  Here’s the link to Toby’s terrific blog, which includes the link to Maury’s autobiography. 

http://fiftieswesterns.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/maury-dexter-hollywood-the-hard-way/

P.S.  As I write this I’m laughing to myself about Maury’s challenges of producing movies on the meager budgets demanded by his penurious boss, Robert L. Lippert…and especially about how he once achieved the goal of producing two low budget westerns for the price of one.  Then there’s the story about how Samuel Fuller who shot the windows out of….

(1)    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0223317/

(2)    http://billcappello.blogspot.com/2010/11/maury-dexter.html

(3)    http://www.amazon.com/Talked-Zombie-Interviews-Veterans-Television/dp/0786441186/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336102379&sr=1-1

Visit our website to order DVDs –

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 .

 

 

 

Before Roger Corman there was Robert L. Lippert

Producer/Exhibitor Robert L. Lippert’s low-budget productions are sometimes called Grade “C.”  Personally, I’ve never seen one below “B-,” and in fairness, he did put out some “B+,” “nervous A,” and who can call “The Fly” (1957) anything but an “A”?

Lippert felt there was an unmet demand for “B” product for his circuit of theatres, so in 1945 he and John L. Jones formed a production company, Action Pictures, and distribution company, Screen Guild Productions.   The first and sole release for 1945 was “Wildfire – The Story of a Horse,” in Cinecolor, starring Bob Steele.  Regular releases followed, and in 1949 Screen Guild became “Lippert Pictures,” and in the final count, cranked out over 125 low budget movies, and released many more acquisitions and reissues.  He produced many more films for release by 20th Century-Fox…more about the Fox deal later…

 

The early Lippert productions were unremarkable B movies (okay, there may have been some C’s), with a few notable exceptions.  Things changed in 1949 when he rolled the dice and took a chance on a feisty independent newspaper reporter by the name of Samuel Fuller. Lippert gave Fuller, who had no movie experience, virtual free-reign, and his name above the title, to create a film about Jesse James’ assassin, Bob Ford.   It was released as “I Shot Jesse James” (1949), and became a critical and box office success, and today it is considered a classic, notable, among other things, for its extensive use of close ups.  Soon after, Fuller directed his second film, “The Baron of Arizona” (1950), a true story about a swindler who seized much of Arizona by forging Spanish land grants.  Vincent Price played the “Baron,” and many years later claimed it was one of his very favorite roles.  Truly, the Lippert/Fuller magna opus was the classic Korean War drama, “The Steel Helmet” (1951), which garnered first-run dates at prestigious theatres.  The three Fuller films are out on DVD from the Criterion Collection.

Lippert’s cause célèbre was to produce films as cheaply as possible, and still offer at least some entertainment value, particularly for the more unsophisticated movie patrons. No Lippert movies were allowed to go over budget.  Not negotiable…even for Fuller.  Despite the puny budgets, minor classics resulted, including “Little Big Horn” (1951) and “The Tall Texan” (1953), both starring Lloyd Bridges. 

 

Robert L. Lippert, Jr. told me a story about filming of the climactic ending of “The Steel Helmet,” where a Korean temple is to be destroyed, and it almost didn’t come to be…  Fuller had shot all but the ending, and production was about to go into overtime. Lippert came on the set and literally pulled the power switch to shut down production.  Fortunately, after he left the set, Fuller turned the power on and filmed the finale. 

 

In 1950, Lippert gave himself a challenge…produce a series of six Jimmy “Shamrock” Ellison-Russell “Lucky” Hayden westerns, all at the same time, using the same casts, sets, crew, and so on.  In one movie an actor may play a bad guy and a bartender in another.  A camera was be set up in the saloon, for example, and the saloon scenes for each movie would be shot sequentially, with actors rushing about changing costumes between each roll of the camera.  It must have been a nightmare for the script girl!  Robert L. Lippert, Jr. told me it was his father’s proudest achievement!  VCI released this series as a set under the “Big Iron Collection” banner.   

 

There was also a distinctive film noir series filmed in Great Britain starting in 1953 when Lippert formed a production alliance with his British distributor, Exclusive Films, soon known as Hammer Film Productions.  Under the arrangement, Lippert would provide an American “star,” on the way down, but who still had some name value, plus cash to pay for part of the production.  Exclusive/Hammer and Lippert divided up the distribution territories.  The result was a series of good thrillers, supported by solid English casts, and many directed by Terence Fisher, in his pre-horror film days.  The Lippert-Hammers are all available as part of the “Hammer Noir” collections released by VCI Entertainment.

 

Lippert, like Roger Corman after him, was able to gather together producers, directors, screenwriters, composers, and, of course, actors, willing to work on tight schedules for minimal pay.  There were stars who had lost their major studio contracts (Paulette Goddard, George Raft) or who had problems with the House on Un-American Activities (Lloyd Bridges, Lee J. Cobb).   Even Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicolson had roles in later Lippert productions.

Lippert was a master marketer.  When producer George Pal set out to mount a big budget Technicolor production of “Destination Moon” (1950), based on the science-fiction book by Robert A. Heinlein, Lippert saw an opportunity.  He capitalized on Pal’s media campaign by throwing together his own low (of course) budget “moon” picture, “Rocketship X-M” (1950).  It beat Pal’s movie into the theatres, stealing a good deal of the Technicolor epic’s thunder.   I’m told Mr. Pal was not amused.

 

Trouble, and opportunities, lay ahead for Lippert.  To be continued…

Visit our website to order DVDs –

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

 

 


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