Born July 7th, 1901 – Died Aug. 4th, 1973
Katzman was known as one of those B-movie producers, usually taking pennies to get films made. But how could that be considered bad, if he stayed in business for almost 40 years. And during that time, he produced 241 films. That averages out to 6 films a year, but early on, such in 1953, he produced 17 films! Okay, so most of them may have not been memorable, but when he worked in the sci-fi / horror genre, I think they were. Especially one particular title, The Giant Claw (1957).
He is the man responsible for instead of paying the money for someone like Ray Harryhausen to create the title creature, he spent a rumored $50 to some guys down in Mexico. You could barely tell by the end result, can you?
Besides that epic, he also produced genre films like It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956), The Werewolf (1956), The Night the World Exploded (1957), and Zombies of Mora Tau.
So while he might not have made the right choices all of the time, the choices that he did make are probably one of the reasons we’re still talking about him today.
Fred F. Sears
Born July 7th, 1913 – Died Nov. 30th, 1957
Being a director back in the ’50s is nothing like it is today. These days, a director can make one film every 5 or 6 years and still be considered a working director! But take a guy like Fred F. Sears, who’s directing career only lasted 10 years before dying of a heart attack in 1957. But during that decade, he cranked out over 50 features. So yeah, that’s averaging 5 pictures a YEAR!
He started his career on stage in regional theater, working as an actor, director, and producer. He was hired by Columbia pictures as a dialogue director, before moving into being a director. He always stayed with Columbia, working a lot with b-movie producer Sam Katzman. Together, they made films in just about every genre, from rock musicals, action thrillers, juvenile-delinquent pictures, and of course, the sci-fi flicks. He directed films like The Werewolf (1956), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1957), with the incredible effects by Ray Harryhausen. And of course, that same year, he directed The Giant Claw. While some might consider that film a failure, to me, because we’re still talking about it, I would say that one is a big success! But that’s just me.
BearManor Media is having a huge Memorial Day sale that ends midnight on May 31st, where all of their paperback editions are 30% off. I have quite a few of BearManor titles in my collection, and have reviewed a few of them here on my site. Just do a search for BearManor Media and you’ll see which ones I’m talking about.
There are three reasons you should order a book or two (or more) from them. The first and obvious reason is because they are having a 30% off sale! Kind of a no-brainer, don’t you think?
Katzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future
By Mark Thomas McGee
Published by BearManor Media, 2016. 332 pages.
Last year, I read McGee’s You Won’t Believe Your Eyes (also from BearManor) and absolutely loved it. It was such a great read, filled with some great and humorous recollections from someone who is obviously a huge fan of the same kind of movies that I enjoy. So when I seen that BearManor had just published a new book by this same author, I was excited. But when I saw that it was about three filmmakers that I admire greatly, I couldn’t wait to get my copy to dig into it. And I wasn’t disappointment.
The fine folks at BearManor Media have just put out a book that I think fans of the 50s and 60s drive-in pictures are going to have to add to the library. And if that wasn’t enough, it was written by Mark Thomas McGee, who has become one of my favorite writers, who always makes his work not only informative, but damn entertaining to read.
With his latest book, Katzman, Nicholson, Corman: Shaping Hollywood’s Future, he covers three very important figures in the world of low budget filmmaking during that era. Of course, we all know who Roger Corman is and the impact he made in the industry.