PART ONE----THE 1920'S AND 1930'S
One day while walking my dog within my Southern California Senior's Community I met Lois Woods who was out walking her's. While our dogs got to know each other. Miss Woods and I started a conversation and at one point it somehow turned to motion pictures. She mentioned her brother-in-law had been actor Francis Lederer who played many a German in World War 2 movies, but to me will always be "Dracula" in the 1958 "The Return of Dracula". Lois next told me that her father had worked on the silent film classic "Wings". This was the first movie to be awarded the "Best Picture Oscar" (at the time called "Best Picture, Production") from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That story of World War One flyers was filmed in 1927 by Director William Wellman. From this short conversation my curiosity kicked in and this look at the life's work of Carl L. Pierson, Miss Woods' father, is the end result. Some of the photos I use are from her mother's personal scrapbook the cover of which is pictured above.
Look up the name Carl L. Pierson on the Internet and you will find several entries, but only two contain any real information other than a passing mention that he was either a film editor, director, or producer. Even the major website for Turner Classic Movies only mentions four westerns he edited out of 213 motion pictures, TCM also overlooked 7 more films Pierson worked on within the editing department at Monogram Studios, 3 he actually directed and another he produced.
All of the minor references to Carl L. Pierson's work have one thing in common. They all seem to mention one film "Paradise Canyon" starring John Wayne. I will be discussing this Monogram Lone Star film at the proper point in this article.
The two entries I've referred too that contain the most information on Carl L.Pierson's life are not that good either. One is only a list of his complete film work post on the website IMDb and the other a very short biography on Wikipedia in French.
Carl L. Pierson was born June 26, 1891 in Indianapolis, Indiana. By 1927 he was working in the motion picture industry in Hollywood, California. This article is not about his family life which I have discussed with his daughter and like all of us reflects ups and downs, but Pierson's motion picture and television work. Work which is overlooked even by the ardent film buff, because Pierson was a Technical Craftsmen and not an Actor or major Director/ His name like many craft employees gets lost in that very long list of rolling credits at the end of a film. In the case of silent and early talkies the names of people other than the main actors, director and producer weren't even mentioned in either the opening, or ending credits. In fact most of those films had no closing credits just the two word "The End".
Carl Pierson's story is also the story of a changing movie industry and the beginnings of television as seen through the screen on his Editing Moviola and I will be mentioning many of these films he helped bring to the big screen for our enjoyment.
It is hard to read on this photograph from Miss Woods' mother's scrapbook about the motion picture "Wings", but if you look closely on the list of names under the film's title. The ninth entry reads:
CUTTER CARL PIERSONand so my story begins.
Look up the complete crew list on "Wings' on IMDb and you will find that the "Film Editing" was attributed to both E, Lloyd Sheldon and Lucien Hubbard. It should be noted that Sheldon's title was "Editor and Chief" with translates today to either "Supervisor, or Department Head". That is the title written by Sheldon's name in the above photo. While Lucien Hubbard was actually one of the movies "Producers" with Adolph Zukor, Jessie Lasky, B.P. Shulberg and Otto Herman Kahn. Along with being credited as an editor of the picture.
The question is then raised who actually edited "Wings" and what was Carl L. Pierson's actual job as a "Cutter". The answer is that the editing was credited to E. Lloyd Sheldon who with director William Wellman decided what the scene should look like, but the physical work of cutting and assembling the scenes of the motion picture was done by Carl Pierson and a lady named Mildred Richter. To add to my readers confusion on the complete crew listings for "Wings" both Pierson and Richter are considered the "Editorial Department". Which might sound more like a writing and publicity position rather than film editing.
However here is the official definition of a "Cutter":
works with the raw footage, selecting shots and combining them into sequences to create a finished motion picture
The next film for Carl Pierson was 1928's "Rose-Marie". On this production the credits simply read: "Screen Editing by Carl L. Pierson" which avoids the confusion I mentioned on "Wings". There is no other Film Editor named and the motion picture was Pierson's complete work. What makes this movie interesting for film buffs and operetta lovers is that it is indeed based upon the 1924 Broadway Operetta "Rose-Marie", but turned into a silent film. Some of the operetta's score was used as incidental music, but the audience never hears Joan Crawford sing like Jeanette McDonald did in the 1936 film opposite Nelson Eddy.
Carl L.Pierson's next motion picture reunited him with director William Wellman and was the Fay Wray/Gary Cooper film " The Legion of the Condemned", The picture is about the American flyers that flew for France during the First World War and was well known to Wellman as he had been one.
The movie was edited by Pierson and Alyson Shaffer. Shaffer like Mildred Richter would work on a few more films into 1931 and then vanish apparently from the profession. What makes this editing job interesting is that some of the original aerial footage from "Wings" had to be blended into the new footage shot for this motion picture. Which would of been the responsibility of the two editors and increased Carl Pierson's proficiency with his craft.
Skipping the next movie he worked upon and moving to a 1929 release was Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island". Carl Pierson was the only editor on this major production, This film was part "Silent":shot before the rush to sound and part "Talkie". Actually the film, according to "Famous Monsters of Filmland" was started in 1926 and ran into major production problems. Thereby postponing its final shooting until "Talkies" had arrived. So the film became one of many hybrids of the transition period from silent to sound motion pictures. Another new factor here for Pierson was that "The Mysterious Island" was shot in two strip technicolor.
Here are some of the faded, because of age color shots for this production of the Jules Verne's story.
Another added dimension for the film editor was working with portions of the movie had been shot underwater.
There would be two films in 1930 the Carl L. Pierson edited. They were "Montana Moon" a comedy, musical, with Johnny Mack Brown, Whose next movie "Billy the Kid" would make him a "B" Cowboy star and a romance called "The Florodora Girl" starring William Randolph Hearst's mistress Marion Davies.
A movie released on November 29, 1930 starred Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler it was entitled "Min and Bill" and would be considered one of their best pairings. The editor was not Carl L. Pierson, but Basil Wrangell. I say this as Pierson worked on a Spanish language film that would be released in 1931. "la fruta amarga (Bitter Fruit)" starred Virginia Fabregas and Juan de Landa. It is apparently was the only documented Foreign Language motion picture Carl Pierson edited.
What is interesting from a motion picture history point of view is that "la fruta amarga" was the Spanish language version of "Min and Bill". At the time dubbing a movie into a Foreign language was not done and a whole movie with the appropriate language speaking cast would be filmed. Here are the two MGM approved posters for these movies.
This is a press clipping about a 1932 western entitled "The Vanishing Men" which was important to Carl Pierson. Although his name does not appear in the clipping.
"The Vanishing Men" became the first motion picture of a genre Carl Pierson would forever be associated with the "B Western" and not just as an editor. However, at this time I am sure he had no idea this would occur.
Above are two posters for the Tom Tyler western. Tyler would be remembered for three performances and not the series of westerns he would make. The first performance was of Luke Plummer the killer that "The Ring Kid" played by John Wayne was after in John Ford's 1939 "Stagecoach", the next was as the original Mummy Kharis in 1940's "The Mummy's Hand" before Lon Chaney, Jr took over the part and the following year Tom Tyler was the title character in Republic Pictures serial "The Adventures of Captain Marvel",
Note that one of the above posters for "Vanishing Men" states"Astor Pictures presents". While the other says "Monogram Pictures presents". Both are the same motion picture edited by Carl Pierson, but it also indicates a releasing practice of the period. The movie was made by Monogram, but the "Distributor" was Astor. Some areas of the United States and any Foreign countries would see the film from Astor Pictures and the rest of the United States from Monogram Pictures. Pierson had to edit two different opening sets of credits on the prints.
On April 24, 1932 the second "B" Western edited by Carl Pierson was released. The motion picture was "Riders of the Desert". This would be the first of a series of film's he would edit starring "B" cowboy actor Bob Steele. In fact his next motion picture "The Man from Hell's Edges" was another. There would be several more of Steele's motion pictures that would be edited by Pierson into tight very predictable pictures during the next couple of years.
Up next was a film about a fire fighter once more starring Johnny Mack Brown "Flames". It should be noted that both Steele and Brown would join stars such as Robert Taylor, Paul Newman and Country singer Kris Kristofferson playing "Billy the Kid" is glorified movies.
"Flames" would be followed by editing another Tom Tyler western "Honor of the Mounted" and still another Bob Steele "Son of Oklahoma". It seemed, except for an occasional motion picture, that at the start of the 1930's film editor Carl L. Pierson was settling into bringing one of the favorite escapes from America's bad years. Those low budget, quickie, one hour or even less "B" Westerns.
A lot of these Westerns were actually set in the year they were released. So you might see a car being chased by villains on horseback which today seems laughable, but saved a lot of money in production. One such film was " From Broadway to Cheyenne" about a police detective who needs a rest from New York City, He is given a leave of absence to return to the peace and quiet of his home in Wyoming. Only to see his father shot dead by local outlaws.
The film starred another forgotten "B" Cowboy Rex Bell. Whose movies Carl Pierson would also edit.
Ten motion pictures later and Carl Pierson was given the editing position on the first sound version of Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" released on February 28, 1933, It also appears this may have been the first sound motion picture of any of Dickens' work and was the second of 21 motion pictures edited by Pierson in 1933.
The fact that this film was made by Monogram Pictures might give you a sense of the budget, or lack thereof. Playing Oliver Twist was "Our Gang" comedy alumnus Dickie Moore. Of interest is that playing Bill Sikes was actor William "Stage" Boyd. Who two years later would become one of the great's of the "B" Westerns "Hopalong Cassidy" and take that role into early 1950's television.
Below Boyd as Bill Sikes and as Hopalong Cassidy.
One has to wonder what the original length of Carl Pierson and director William J. Cowen's original cut of "Oliver Twist" had been. There are characters listed in the on screen credits that do not appear in the film as originally released by Monogram with a 80 minute running time. According to the Turner Classic Movie site the motion picture had running times of either 70, 71, 78 and 80 minutes. There are two postings of the 1933 "Oliver Twist" with the 71 minute running time on YouTube, but there is a third on YouTube with only a 62 minute running time. All this still raises the question after Carl Pierson had finished editing the movie for director Cowen. How long was that first cut and how much of a change to the story was made by Monogram's executives in the original 80 minute release?
After completion of "Oliver Twist" Carl Pierson worked on another 14 motion picture for Monogram, Four of these starred Bob Steele and another four Rex Bell. Of the remaining 6 movies one was loosely based on the novel "Black Beauty" and one starred Charles Starrett. Who was just starting out in the "B" Cowboy pictures and would have a series as "The Durango Kid" an Outlaw Good Guy
On October 10, 1933 Monogram Studios released under their "Lone Star Pictures Logo" a 53 minute Western edited by Carl Pierson entitled "Riders of Destiny". It was a typical Monogram "B" Western, but in the cast was actor George Hayes. Who was now picking up the nickname of "Gabby". The great stunt man Yakima Canutt played a part credited as "Henchman", Along with providing all the major stunts.
However, it was the actor starring in the film playing "Singin' Sandy" that is of interest. This was his 26th feature film appearance since 1930's "The Big Trail". When a "Prop Boy" turned actor was given the new name of John Wayne. His singing would be dubbed, but became an embarrassment at personal appearance as young girls asked Wayne to sing the movies theme song.
"Riders of Destiny" was the first of a series of John Wayne Westerns Cal L. Pierson would be involved with not only as the film editor. This motion picture was followed by a 1933 drama "Broken Dreams" about a medical student whose wife dies in childbirth and wants nothing to do with his baby son. This film edited by Pierson would fall from memory except for the actor playing the medical student Randolph Scott. Like Wayne Scott had been bouncing around from "B" movie to "B" movie before becoming a leading man. Both of course would meet for the first time as leading men opposite Marlene Dietrich in 1942's "The Spoilers". Dietrich had first billing, Scott next and Wayne third.
Returning to my film editor Carl Pierson. "Broken Dreams" was followed by his second John Wayne feature "Sagebrush Trail" the last of the 21 films he edited in 1933. 1934 would start with editing the motion picture "Sixteen Fathoms Deep" about a sponge diver hoping to get enough money to buy his own boat and marry his girlfriend. The review from The New York Times at the time contains this interesting description of the film's hero and star. For film buffs note the leading man's name.
Creighton Chaney, son of the late Lon Chaney, is the hero, and a fine broth of a lad, too. He gives a pleasing athletic performance without benefit of pomade or a profile, and he doesn't need a double in the diving and swimming scenes, either.
A third John Wayne western "The Lucky Texan" followed. Before the end of 1934 Carl Pierson would edit five more of these early John Wayne movies. Now instead of Charles Dickens Monogram decided to film a novel by Charlotte Bronte. The movie was "Jane Eyre" and the 1934 production was the first adaptation to use sound. The film starred Colin Clive of Universal Studio's Dr. Frankenstein fame and Virginia Bruce who would become 1940's "The Invisible Women". Carl Pierson was the editor on "Jane Eyre" for director Christy Cabanne..
Film Critic Leonard Maltin wrote this about the picture on the TCM movie data base:
thin version of the oft-filmed Bronte novel, produced by Monogram, of all studios. Still, it's not uninteresting as a curioMatlin has to be right about this being a "thin version" of the Bronte novel as the finished film only runs 63 minutes in length.
In all Carl Pierson would edit 22 motion pictures and assist, uncredited, on one other during 1934.
1935 would not only find Pierson editing motion pictures for Monogram Studios, but also direct three motion pictures, but.the year began with the editing of course another John Wayne "B" Western "Texas Terror".
Although this is no reflection on Carl Pierson's work, Critic Stuart Galbraith on July 23, 2007 called the picture part of a group of:
substandard, ultra-cheap John Wayne picturesWhile Ike Oden of "DVD Verdict" on August 24, 2011 just said one word:
The film might be "disposable" and as I've mentioned above you couldn't really tell one "B Western" from another even if the leads were different. However, just as Carl L. Pierson's was honing his craft to enable him to be offered a "Director's Chair". So were John Wayne and other "B" Cowboys.
The country was now in the exact middle of "The Great Depression" and these predictable motion pictures were the medicine needed to take American's minds away from Food Lines and a 25 percent unemployment rate, if even for an hour.
One drama edit later and another John Wayne feature with George "Gabby" Hayes. Who had moved from bad guy into that comic side kick movie goers of the time came to love. The picture was "Rainbow Valley" released March 15, 1935.
Two of Carl L. Pierson's next five editing jobs for Monogram Studio's were John Wayne westerns and than they changed his title to "Director", His first motion picture as a director naturally starred John Wayne and was the film "Paradise Canyon" I mentioned at the start of this article.
Below are two pages out of Lois Woods' mother's scrapbook pertaining to this feature directed by her husband.
"Paradise Canyon" was the last Monogram/Lone Star Picture John Wayne would make for the studio. He moved over to Republic Pictures.
Many of these John Wayne "B" pictures would be colorized in 2009 by Legend Films and renamed by that company. Thus giving the impression, as they had planned, that these new titles were lost movies.
Going forward Carl L. Pierson was editing motion pictures for both Monogram Studios and Republic Pictures. His first Republic Picture editing job was on "Westward Ho" released August 19, 1935 starring once more Wayne. In some ways the two men's futures were being tied together. As on October 5, 1935 another of "The Duke's" movies "The New Frontier" was released by Republic. The film was not edited by, but directed by Pierson.
Below is a newspaper article from Miss Wood's Mother's Scrapbook about her father and the only picture I have been able to locate showing Carl Pierson himself. Reading the article indicates that Pierson was now Republic Pictures "Editor-in-Chief".
Republic would re-cycle this title in 1939 for one of the series of westerns featuring the "Three Mesquiteers" starring Ray "Crash" Corgan, John Wayne and Raymond Hatton which Carl Pierson was not connected with.
On December 16, 1935 Carl L. Pierson directed his third and final motion picture making it a short career in the "Chair". The movie was a western, but John Wayne wasn't the lead. "The Singing Vagabond" stared Gene Autry. The filmed co-starred Ann Rutherford in her third motion picture and Smiley Burnett as Autry's sidekick "Frog". The stunts were done by future 1940's and 1950's cowboy and action film star George Montgomery.
On the poster for this picture director Carl Pierson received no credit, but Autry's horse "Champion" does.
Here's a still of a scene Carl Pierson set up to permit Gene to get in a song while in jail.
The second and third pictures edited by Pierson at the start of 1936 were John Wayne in "The Oregon Trail" and Gene Autry in "Red River Valley".
For those who are into "Cult Motion Pictures". Carl Pierson has the distinction of being the "original" editor of a movie made in 1936 that today still retains a strong following. A Church group approached producer George Hirliman to make for the church a strong marijuana morality tale. Hirliman hired director Louis J. Gasnier to direct the movie with the title of "Tell Your Children". This was the movie edited by Pierson.
However, for some reason the film was acquired by prompter and exploiter Swain Esper. Esper proceeded to re-edit the film and add scenes the church would never have approved. So that he could now show "Tell Your Children" on what was known as "The Exploitation Film Circuit". There would be four more titles for the altered version of the motion picture. Each playing in different areas of the United States. However the only name showing on the credits for editing was Pierson's, Carl L. Pierson remained the named editor of "Reefer Madness".
1937 only consisted of four movies edited by Pierson. Two from Monogram and two from 20th Century Fox. Both of the 20th Century Fox films are interesting. "The Californian" sounds like a rip off of Zorro. A young Californian returns from Spain in 1855 to find politicians taking land from Spanish families. He becomes a Robin Hood like character fighting the politicians greedy actions.
In the above lobby card you have two of the three leads. On the left is actor Ricardo Cortez who was a favorite "Latin Lover" from the silent era playing Ramon Escobar "The Californian". Only problem was his real name was Jacob Krantz. He was born in New York City and was Jewish. The other person on the lobby card playing Chata was Katherine DeMille. DeMille was the adopted daughter of Cecil B. DeMille and his wife Constance. She was a Canadian orphan whose father died in WW1 and her mother died shortly afterwards from tuberculous.
The other 20th Century Fox film edited by Carl Pierson was "Western Gold" and starred another of those forgotten "B Western" actors. His name was Sykes "Smith" Bellew who besides his stint at acting was an accomplished musician, orchestra leader and western singer.
The plot minus Bellew's singing had a member of the Union Army during the Civil War discover that shipments of gold from the west were being stolen by southerners. Bellew would appear in 18 movies, not all Westerns, and record 11 sound tracks.
On April 1, 1938 the independent studio Thunderbird Films released "Spirit of Youth". This motion picture was edited by Carl Pierson. What makes this film interesting is that it would never have played in many areas of the United States and especially the Deep South. The film is subtitled: "The Story of Joe E, Louis" and Champion Boxer Louis plays the lead character called Joe Thomas, but as the majority of the cast was Negro. Even with Louis in it many white's would not have gone to see it. As a reflection of the time the film was more than likely booked only in Negro Movie theaters. It is available on YouTube.
We were now in the age of the "Singing Cowboy" and another forgotten name was Jack Randall actually Addison Byron Owen Randall. His first film edited by Pierson was "Where the West Begins" and it featured "Fuzzy" Knight as Randall's comic sidekick.
Besides some small drama's 1938 would find Carl Pierson editing four motion pictures from another of those forgotten Monogram "Singing Cowboys" Bob Barker.
Seven more features brought Carl Pierson to the editing position for a low budget Warner Brother historical motion picture "The Mad Empress" released on December 16, 1939. The picture was about the lives of the Mad Empress of the tile Carlotta of Mexico, her husband Maxmillian and Benito Juarez.. Although Pierson looked upon this film as just another editing job for a different studio. I can only wonder what went through his mind and those involved in making this low budget picture, because earlier that year on April 24, 1939 Warner Brothers had released the big budgeted movie "Juarez" starring Paul Muni in the title role and Betty Davis as Empress of Mexico Carlotta. In short the same story.
The website "The Movie Review Query Engine" has the description of "The Mad Empress":
Cast: Conrad Nagel, Medea de Novara, Jason Robards Sr.,Evelyn Brent, Medea Novara
Director: Miguel Contreras Torres
Synopsis:In this melodramatic historical drama, the lives of Mexico's Maximilian and Carlotta are chronicled. The story follows their brief reign as figureheads for Napoleon III. The two doomed rulers were terribly naive and had no idea that they were universally despised by the native population. Upon her return to Europe, Carlotta goes mad with grief when she realizes that her beleaguered husband, trapped by a rebel uprising in Mexico City, will receive no aid from their backers.For comparison the same website has this description of "Juarez":
Director: William Dieterle
Running Time: 135 min.
Synopsis:Juarez was originally designed to concentrate almost exclusively on the tragedy of Hapsburg Emperor Maximillian, whose attempts to establish a puppet government in Mexico on behalf of Napoleon III ended in disaster and death. But when Paul Muni decided that he wanted to play Zapotec-Indian-turned-Mexican President Benito Pablo Juarez, the film's emphasis perceptibly shifted -- and Bette Davis, cast as Empress Carlotta, was shunted to second billing rather than first. Muni's makeup and costuming convincingly transforms him into Juarez incarnate. But unlike his other historical impersonations (Pasteur, Zola), Muni's Juarez is a one-note characterization: stoic, uncompromising, and v-e-e-r-y slow of speech. Far more exciting dramatically is Bette Davis as Empress Carlotta, whose highly stylized descent into madness is a tour de force both for the actress and for director William Dieterle. Claude Rains and Gale Sondergaard, as Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, in essence repeat their diabolical characterizations from Anthony Adverse (1936), while John Garfield is singularly miscast as Pofirio Diaz. The best performance is delivered by Brian Aherne, whose kindly, honorable Emperor Maximillian is less a despot than a misguided political pawn. When Aherne, about to be executed at Juarez' orders, requests that his favorite Mexican song "La Paloma" be played as he is led before the firing squad, audience sympathies are 100% in Maximilian's corner--which was not quite what the filmmakers intended. Based largely on Bertita Harding's book The Phantom Crown (the film's original title), Juarez takes every available opportunity to parallel its title character's fight against foreign intervention with the then-current European situation. To protect their investment in Juarez Warner Bros. purchased outright a like-vintage Mexican film on the same subject, The Mad Empress, suppressing the latter film's release in the United States.
I want to make it clear that "The Mad Empress" was shot in English with Conrad Nagel and Lionel Atwill in the cast and was not the Foreign language version of the Paul Muni and Betty Davis film as I mentioned in the case of the movie "Min and Bill" earlier in this article.
PART TWO---THE 1940'S
Starting with his next editing position Carl Pierson would work upon a series of films starring "The East Side Kids". This group of young actors originally appeared on Broadway in the play "Dead End" and then in the hard hitting motion picture of the same name as "The Dead End Kids". They were originally a New York Street Gang who gets into trouble with the law, but when they changed studios from United Artists to Monogramtheir name changed with them. As the gang morphed into a semi-comical grown up version of Hal Roach's "Little Rascals".
At some point Monogram would change the groups name once more. When some of the original members dropped out to "The Bowery Boys". Note on the title for the first film Carl Pierson edited "The East Side Kids" in "Boys of the City" that "Savoy Picture Corp presents" the movie. This was like Monogram having their westerns under the "Lone Star Films" name.
"Boys of the City" would immediately be followed by The East Side Kids in "That Gang of Mind", Which in turn was followed by another ten forgotten motion pictures bringing my reader to 1942's "Black Dragons" starring Bela Lugosi. The first of a group of Monogram films edited by Carl Pierson featuring Lugosi. This low budget feature was book ended by Bela's appearances in "The Wolfman" and "The Ghost of Frankenstein" across town at Universal Studios.
Les Adams <email@example.com> describes this picture:
Prior to the beginning of World War II, the Nazis, at the request of Japan's Black Dragon Society, sends Doctor Melcher to Japan to transform six Japanese into identical likenesses of six prominent Americans. The Americans are done away with and Melcher, on the orders of High Dragon Yakhamea, is imprisoned so his secret will die with him. In his cell, Melcher switches places with the soon-to-be-released Colomb and, when he is freed, follows the six Japanese to America, where they have assumed the positions of the industrialists and are causing sabotage in the Monogram defense plants that didn't exist yet as the war hadn't started. One by one Melcher kills the impostors, despite the fact they are performing for-free work for his employer Adolph, and dumps their bodies on the steps of the Japanese Embassy, which still existed as the war hadn't started. FBI Chief Colton and agent Dick Martin finally piece together what the five murdered men had in common---aha, a visit to Japan---and stake out the sixth man as bait for Melcher.Bela Lugosi was Dr Melcher aka Monsieur Colomb and playing the agent Dick Martin was a pre-"Lone Ranger" Clayton Moore.
The next group of films edited by Carl Pierson starred another of those great "B Western" cowboys now forgotten Buck Jones. He was part of a group called "The Rough Riders" patterned after "The Three Mesquiteers" by Monogram Studios. Jones was joined by Colonel Tim McCoy and Raymond Hattan who had appeared in the same type of role in the first series.
Bela Lugosi returned in "Bowery at Midnight" edited once more by Carl L. Pierson. The plot for this film is really weird and I don't know what problems might actually have occurred to Pierson editing the picture's continuity.
To explain that statement this is a link to a review from the website "1000 misspent hours and counting":
The next seven features seen through his Moviola included two more East Side Kids pictures and another Rough Riders movie. Carl Pierson and Lugosi were once more indirectly associated in "The Ape Man". Lugosi played a scientist who through a series of experiments is accidentally turned partly into a Gorilla.
Carl Pierson followed the Lugosi movie with another western film editing job with a tragic event attached to it. The picture "The Ghost Rider" was suppose to star Buck Jones, but he was killed in "The Cocoanut Grove" fire in Boston, The fire killed 492 people, That figure was 32 more than the club's authorized capacity as the exits were inadequate in the panic. It was also discovered that most of the unlocked doors opened inwards preventing exiting as people were crushed attempting to open the door inwards.
The story was rewritten and "The Ghost Rider" became the first of a series of westerns starring Johnny Mack Brown and Raymond Hattan.
On July 30, 1943 Bela Lugosi faced a horror worse than any he had dealt with before, That horror's name was the East Side Kids in "Ghosts on the Loose". Playing the heroine and sister of one of gang was a very young actress named Ava Gardner. An oddity with this film is that the official edited length by Carl Pierson was 65 minutes and referred too as the "Copyright Length". Yet the edited version on the DVD is two minutes longer. I could not find out what is different between the two, but many sites make reference to that difference.
The feature was followed by Pierson editing more westerns with Johnny Mack Brown.
Along with now editing some of the Ken Maynard westerns such as "Death Valley Rangers"which co-starred Bob Steele and another "B" cowboy Hoot Gibson. As can be seen Western movies were making up the majority of the editing work for Cal L. Pierson and a majority of Monogram's output at this time.
On February 21, 1944 Bela Lugosi was back in another motion picture edited by Carl Pierson "Voodoo Man". Shot in seven days the picture also featured John Carradine and George Zucco. The plot has Zucco running a gasoline filling station in the "sticks" Where he captures young girls so that Lugosi can transfer their life essence into his dead wife, Carradine plays an assistant who looks over the now created "Zombie" girls after their life essence is removed. The hero of this picture is a screenwriter who at the films end has written a script for a producer based upon what the movie has shown. The title is "Voodoo Man" and when asked who should play the part. The screenwriter suggests that actor Bela Lugosi might play the lead. I did not make that up. Somebody at Monogram was having fun with an inside joke.
The quality of the motion pictures Carl L. Pierson edited may not have been intellectual or have both a budget and major stars, but they were entertaining. Most of these 1940's films were produced by Sam Katzman who would go on to make such Science Fiction classics as Ray Harryhausen's "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" and the two campy pictures "The Creature with the Atom Brain" and "The Giant Claw".
"Return of the Ape Man" had the same three horror actors Lugosi, Zucco and Carradine. To start this movie had nothing to do with the earlier Bela Lugosi picture "The Ape Man", Here is a description of the film's plot from the TCM Website:
Obsessed by the idea of eternal life, Professor Dexter and his fellow researcher, Professor John Gilmore, awaken a tramp they have frozen in slumber for four months. To prove his theory that life can be sustained indefinitely, Dexter decides to travel to the Arctic to uncover a prehistoric man who has been imprisoned in the ice for a millennium. After a grueling ten-month search, Dexter and Gilmore unearth a body and transport it back to Dexter's laboratory. Upon defrosting the creature, the scientists discover that it is neither man nor beast, lacking the basic abilities of speech and reason. To civilize the creature, Dexter decides to transplant a portion of a modern man's brain into its skull. At a party at the Gilmore house that evening, Dexter becomes intrigued by Steve Rogers, the fiancé of Gilmore's niece Anne. Determining that Steve's brain would make a perfect subject for his experiment, Dexter invites him home. Suspecting Dexter's diabolical scheme, Gilmore follows them to the laboratory and finds Steve unconscious on the operating table with Dexter poised for surgery, scapel in hand. Alarmed, Gilmore pulls out his gun and orders Dexter to halt. Steve is revived, and after he departs, Gilmore upbraids Dexter and threatens to turn him in to the police. Later that night, the apeman bends back the bars of his cage and escapes, killing a policeman before Dexter is able to recapture him. Reading about the murder in the morning paper, Gilmore phones Dexter and is relieved when the scientist asks his help in destroying the monster. When Gilmore enters the lab, however, Dexter paralyzes him with an electronic ray and then transplants his brain tissue into the apeman. The operation is a success, but when the creature awakens, he thinks that he is Gilmore and returns to the Gilmore house. Lumbering into Mrs. Gilmore's bedroom, the ape man strangles the startled woman to death and then flees. While Steve chases the monster, Anne summons the police. After being knocked unconscious by the creature, Steve is revived by the police and leads them back to Dexter's house. By the time they arrive, however, Dexter has hidden his creation behind his laboratory wall. Breaking down the wall, the apeman attacks his creator. Before dying, Dexter warns that incineration is the only way to destroy the beast. As a city-wide alarm is sounded, the creature returns to the Gilmore house and kidnaps Anne. Swinging across telephone lines, it carries Anne's unconscious body to a deserted theater. When the police arrive, the ape man swings onto a catwalk above the stage and escapes. The creature then carries Anne back to Dexter's house, the creature imprisons her in the lab. As the police approach, the apeman switches on some electronic equipment, generating sparks that set the lab ablaze. Braving the flames, Steve rescues Anne, leaving the ape man behind to perish in the conflagration.The last motion picture in 1944 that Carl Pierson worked upon was a musical entitled "Minstrel Man" and might never have been made, because of World War Two. The motion picture came from "Producers Releasing Corporation" one of the forgotten studios from what was known as "Poverty Row". In comparison to "PRC", as this studio was known, Monogram was MGM, or Warner Brothers. In fact "PRC" only made lower budgets "B" movies for the lower half of a "B" double bill. I guess you might refer to them as "B minus" motion pictures.
Filming started in 1943 on "Minstrel Man" with director Joseph H. Lewis, but then he was drafted into the Army. Lewis would be replaced briefly by director Edgar Ulmer, but then the studio stopped production due to scheduling conflicts with the actors. When Lewis was released by the Army in 1944 "PRC" was able to finish the filming and finally turn the motion picture completely over to Carl Pierson for editing.
This forgotten lower "B" movie was actually nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Musical Score and Song.
The following year 1945 saw only three motion pictures Carl L. Pierson worked upon. The first was a drama "Dangerous Intruder"a film noir style picture, next was the drama "Why Girls Leave Home" and lastly another western "Range Renegades" starring Jimmy Wakely. Wakely was a very popular Country Western Singer and was one of the last of the "Singing Cowboys", He also was a regular on "The Grand Ole Opry",
While 1945 seemed slow for Pierson in comparison to other years. In 1946 he has only one film credit and that was as a producer. He actually was the "Associate Producer" on "The Devil Bat's Daughter". Back in 1940 "PRC" made "The Devil Bat" starring Bela Lugosi as a chemist for a cosmetics company. He believes the other founders cheated him out of the money owed him for helping build the company form the products he created. Lugosi created giant bats that were trained to attack people with a special cologne on them.
"The Devil Bat's Daughter" is the supposed sequel to that motion picture. In short by the film's end the daughter of Bela Lugosi's character has proved her father innocent of the crimes we saw in the first film.
1947 saw no known work by Carl L. Pierson, but in 1948 and 1949 he returned to those "B" Westerns and edited 11 feature films in those two years. Eight of the eleven were with Jimmy Wakely and the remaining three starred Johnny Mack Brown.
PART THREE---THE 1950'S AND TELEVISION
On January 28, 1950 Carl Pierson edited "Radar Secret Service" a film noir from low budget producer Robert L. Lippert ("Rocket R-XM", "The Lost Continent" and "The Last Man on Earth"). This was a typical quickie being turned out at the start of "The Cold War". On IMDb Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org> described the film:
In post-WWII America,Radar has been developed to such an extent that law enforcement agencies, seated in their headquarters, can twist a few dials and bring in, on a small television screen, a crisp picture of a roving stock-footage truck carrying uranium material, highly coveted by foreign powers in order to make atomic bombs and blow up the U.S.A. This advanced version of Radar can follow the car occupied by the crooks out to hijack the truck, and also the police car pursuing them after they hijack the truck. But, alas, this can only be done when the atomic material is in motion, and has little value when the crooks park the truck. So the lawmen have to send in a female mole posing as a moll.
The motion picture would get the "Mystery Theater 3000" treatment.
"Radar Secret Service" was followed by "Western Pacific Agent" which sounds almost like another western, but has Kent Taylor as a detective from the Western Pacific Railroad investigating several murders.
The next movie in 1950 was "I Shot Billy the Kid". This low budget western played off the title of the highly successful movie "I Shot Jesse James" from the previous year. It starred another of those "B Cowboys" Don "Red" Barry as Billy the Kid and Robert Lowery as Pat Garrett.
The movie has an interesting name listed who was given screen credit Tom Tyler. His appearance was entirely the work of Carl L. Pierson who edited footage from one of his Monogram westerns into this film. I could not locate what movie the footage had originally been in.
Edited by Pierson was "Gunfire" which once more starred Don "Red" Barry and Robert Lowery. Lowery was real life sheriff John Kelly and this time around "Red" Barry was Frank James.
Three more westerns completed Carl Pierson's editing work for 1950 in which two also starred Don "Red" Barry. Six more films in 1951 and Pierson was editing the minor classic "Little Big Horn" as a group of Calvary attempts to warn Custer of the upcoming massacre by the Sioux.
What makes this "B" low budget film memorable is the names in the cast, if you familiar with films and television programs of the 1950's and not the story. That cast list included:
Lloyd Bridges, John Ireland, Marie Windsor, Reed Hadley, Jim Davis, Hugh O'Brien, King Donovan and Sheb Wooley.
Carl L. Pierson in 1952 did his first editing work for the new medium of television. Of course it was a western series. "Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" starred Guy Madison and Andy Devine and the program started the year before in 1951 and would run through 1958. All 12 episodes Pierson edited were from that 1952 second season.