John Barrymore and Mickey Rooney , two names, not normally associated with Science Fiction motion pictures. While, Lou Costello, made one with his then, partner, Bud Abbott in 1953. This is a look at Three Comedy Features, two that parodied "Classic Science Fiction", and one that attacked America's "Cold War Fears".
THE INVISIBLE WOMAN released December 27, 1940
Serialized in "Pearson's Weekly", in 1897, was a new novel by Herbert George Wells entitled "The Invisible Man".
Above the cover of the first edition published in the United Kingdom, also in 1897.
As composer, singer and actor Richard O'Brien's lyrics, from his 1973 stage play, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". goes:
"----CLAUDE RAINS WAS THE INVISIBLE MAN---"
Rains was the first actor to portrayed the H.G. Wells character on-screen. My article, at the above O'Brien lyric, about the actor, can be read at:
In 1933, Universal Pictures, had three of their contract writers turn the H.G. Wells novel into a screenplay.
The three were R.C. Sherriff, who had co-written, 1932's, "The Old Dark House" and would do the same for 1935's, "The Bride of Frankenstein". and 1936's, "Dracula's Daughter".
Preston Sturges, who would go on to write classic comedy screenplays. Such as 1940's, "The Great McGinty", starring Brian Donlevy, 1941's, "The Lady Eve", starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, and 1941's, "Sullivan's Travels", starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake.
Philip Gordon Wylie, had written the screenplay for 1932's, "Island of Lost Souls", starring Charles Laughton as H.G. Wells' "Dr. Moreau". Wylie is best known for two Science Fiction novels, 1933's, "When Worlds Collide", and, 1934's, "After Worlds Collide"
The motion picture was Directed by James Whale, 1931's, "Frankenstein", 1932's, "The Old Dark House", 1935's, "The Bride of Frankenstein" and his favorite, the 1936 musical, "Show Boat".
My article, "JAMES WHALE: Jean Harlow to Louis Hayward" may be read at:
Moving ahead, seven years, to "The Invisible Man Returns", released January 12, 1940, and starring Vincent Price, in the title role.
The story idea was partly from Joe May. May was a Director and Screenplay writer in Germany, before he left with the rise of Adolph Hitler.
The screenplay was co-written by Lester Cole, a "B" contract writer for Universal Pictures, and Cedric Belfrage, who would only have one other film credit.
In reality, the main story idea and original screenplay came from Curt Siodmak. Who, like May, had worked in Germany with Fritz Lang, before Kurt (Curt) and his brother Robert, also, left the country as Hitler came to power.
Among Curt Siodmak's screenplays for Universal Pictures are, 1941's, "The Wolf Man", in which he wrote the classic "Werewolf Poem" about Man and the Moon, 1942's, "The Invisible Agent", and 1943's, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man", that started out as a joke to a Producer by Siodmak.
My article, "CURT and ROBERT SIODMAK: Horror and Film Noir" will be found at:
Which now brings me to the first motion picture mentioned in this article's title.
The story for "The Invisible Woman" came from Joe May and Curt Siodmak.
The screenplay was from four Universal contract writers.
Frederic I. Rinaldo, who worked with Lees on all the Abbott and Costello Comedies.
The third writer was Gertrude Purcell, she wrote "B" Drama's and Westerns. Purcell was one of the four screenplay writers for the 1939, James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, Comedy Western, "Destry Rides Again"
The pictures Director was A. Edward Sutherland. Sutherland had been an actor between 1914 and 1931. He started Directing in 1925 and worked on straight Comedies, combinations of Comedy and Drama, or Comedy and Musicals.
The screenplay resulted in the typical "Screwball Comedy" of the late 1930's and early 1940's.
David S. Horsley was the only listed crew member for the Special Effects, but did not get the on-screen credit for his work.
By this motion picture, Horsely, had worked Camera Effects for 1934's, "The Black Cat", Optical and Special Effects for both 1935's, "Bride of Frankenstein", and the "Werewolf of London", and the same for 1936's, "The Invisible Ray". Additionally, in 1940, David S. Horsley did the Special Effects for "The Invisible Man Returns". All of his work was without on-screen recognition.
Among Horsley's later films with on-screen credit, are both 1953's "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", that one Science Fiction, "Abbott and Costello Go to Mars" and 1955's "Tarantula".
Virginia Bruce portrayed "Kitty Carroll". Bruce was one of the original 20 "Goldwyn Girls" with Betty Grable, Ann Sothern and Paulette Goddard. Her first 10 films were all in 1929 and 8 were without any credit. In 1935, Virginia Bruce moved from supporting roles to co-starring with Chester Morris and Robert Taylor in the Drama, "Society Doctor". Bruce, was a singer, and started appearing in "B" Musicals, such as, 1935's, "Here Comes the Band", co-starring with Ted Lewis and his Band. In 1939, she co-starred with Nelson Eddy and Victor McLagen in the Musical "Let Freedom Ring". It was in 1940, that Virginia Bruce's Comedic talent was finally discovered.
John Barrymore portrayed "Professor Gibbs". Because of his on-screen look during the "Silent Film Era", Barrymore was known as 'The Great Profile". His motion pictures include, 1920's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", 1922's "Sherlock Holmes", 1926's "The Sea Beast (Moby Dick)", 1930's "Moby Dick", 1931's "Svengali" and 1932's, MGM All-Star feature, "Grand Hotel".
John Howard portrayed "Richard Russell". Howard portrayed Roland Colman's brother in Director Frank Capra's, 1937, classic version of James Hilton's novel, "Lost Horizon". Also in 1937, Howard started playing the fictional British hero, "Hugh 'Bulldog' Drummond", in several motion pictures. In 1929, Roland Colman had previously played the popular character. In 1942, John Howard turns out to be the title character of, "The Undying Monster", a werewolf, not seen until the pictures climax.
Charles "Charlie" Ruggles portrayed "George". Comedian Ruggles film roles started in 1914 and in 1949 his television series, "The Ruggles", premiered and ran through 1952. Fans of Jay Ward's, "The Bulwinkle Show", know Charlie Ruggles voice as "Aseop". His feature films include, the Howard Hawks' Screwball Comedy, 1938's, "Bringing Up Baby", starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, Walt Disney's original, 1961, "The Parent Trap", Disney's 1963, "Son of Flubber", and Disney's, 1966, "The Ugly Dachshund".
Above, on the right, Ann Nagel, as "Jean".
Oscar Homolka portrayed "Blackie Cole". Homolka would play many a villain in motion pictures during the 1940's and into the 1950's, but also the occasional good guy. Among his films are, Alfred Hitchcock's, 1936, "Sabotage", the Clark Gable and Heddy Lamarr, 1940, "Comrade X", the Claude Rains and Glenn Ford, 1950, "The White Tower". and Director King Vidor's epic, 1956, production of Leo Tolstoy's, "War and Peace", starring Audrey Hepburn, a miscast Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer.
Shemp Howard portrayed "Frankie". It was Shemp, that first started with his brother, Moe Howard, and Larry Fine in the comedy group that became known as "The Three Stooges". When he branched out, Shemp was replaced by his brother Jerome "Curly" Howard. After, Curly had a massive stroke, Shemp rejoined the group. Among his non-Stooge's films are, W.C. Fields, 1940, "The Bank Dick", Abbott and Costello's, 1941, "Buck Privates", the Lionel Atwill "B" Horror entry, 1942's, "The Strange Case of Dr. RX" and the Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne, 1942, "Pittsburgh".
Charles Lane portrayed "Crowley". Lane, because of his looks, usually portrayed mean and miserly characters. Over his career, between 1930 and 1955, with a large amount of work without screen credit, Charles Lane had 375 different roles.
Maria Montez portrayed "Marie". This was Montez's second on-screen appearance. The following year, she would start to star in films about South Sea's beauties and Arabian Adventures. Her films would include, 1941's "South of Tahiti", starring Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford and Andy Devine, the 1942 Film-Noir, based upon an Edgar Allan Poe story, "The Mystery of Marie Roget", 1942's "Arabian Nights", 1944's "Ali Baba and the Forty-Thieves", both with her main co-star, Jon Hall and the same years, "Cobra Woman".
The Very Funny Sight Gag Screenplay:
Fired from her previous job, as a Department Store Model, "Kitty Carroll", answers as Want Ad from the dotty inventor, "Professor Gibbs".
Wealthy lawyer and playboy, "Richard Russell", who likes the Professor, has funded a machine the inventor claims will make anything invisible. However, "Russell", has also exhausted his inheritance and "Gibbs" hopes the invention would become salable and help his benefactor. Who has left for his mountain lodge in a depressed state of mine. While, after explaining his invention to "Kitty", she becomes the Professor's test subject.
The invention works and "Kitty Carroll" has become invisible. She slips out of the Professor's house for a little fun revenge on "Crowley", the boss that fired her. To start, as several of the models are showing off gowns to a group of women, a gown, without a head, now appears.
Meanwhile, a gangster named "Foghorn", played by Donald McBride, has gotten word of the Professor's invisibility device and plans on stealing it. His purpose is to take the machine to Mexico, turn his boss, "Blackie", invisible, and then sneak him back into the United States to continue their crime wave with an invisible gang.
This all leads to more sight gags, as the gang attempts to make "Blackie" invisible.
One last word, the "Hayes Censorship Office", had problems with the perceived nudity of Virginia Bruce, when she was invisible. They claimed she was actually nude and wanted to cut out scenes as being morally objectionable to American Family Values. This did not happen!
The United States Government warned American's to watch your next door neighbor, because that nice family might really be Communist infiltrators. Our television programs, such as Richard Carlson's, "I Led 3 Lives", and motion pictures, like 1952's, "Invasion U.S.A.". All contributed to building on American's fear of an Atomic Bomb attack by our one time, World War 2 ally, the Soviet Union.
With this rash of early 1950's Science Fiction films on Nuclear Holocaust, 1950's, "Rocketship X-M" is one, and Spy films about Communist Agents stealing "Atomic Secrets", Director Sam Fuller's classic 1953, "Pickup on South Street", is one.
"The Atomic Kid" is really an odd entry for the period, as it's a Comedy.
Twenty-months before the release of "The Atomic Kid", on May 2, 1953, another film, "Split Second", described as a "Crime Drama, Film-Noir", went to America's movie theaters. What that description leaves out, is the plots reflection of America's fear of the Atom Bomb.
Novelist Irving Wallace's, 1960's "The Chapman Report" and 1961's "The Prize", screenplay is taut and the tension builds as the plane starts to take off, to drop the Atom Bomb on the town.
The motion picture was distributed by Republic Pictures and was a "Mickey Rooney Productions" feature film.
The Director was Leslie H. Martinson. Martinson started Directing, in 1952, with televisions "Cowboy G-Men". This was his first motion picture, while Directing "The Atomic Kid", Leslie Martinson, was also Directing "The Mickey Rooney Show" on television. His second motion picture was, 1956's, "Hot Rod Girl", starring Lori Nelson and an unknown Chuck Connors. Although a television Director, in 1963, Martinson Directed Cliff Robertson, as "Lieutenant (J.G.) John Fitzgerald Kennedy", in "PT-109".
The story for "The Atomic Kid", was from an unknown Blake Edwards, a writer on "The Mickey Rooney Show".
The screenplay was co-written by Benedict Freedman. Another writer on "The Mickey Rooney Show". Along with both, "The Jimmy Durante Show" and "The Red Skelton Show".
The second screenplay writer, was John Fenton Murray. Also, a Comedy writer for the three shows with Freedman.
Mickey Rooney portrayed "Barnaby 'Blix' Waterberry". Rooney started out Silent Comedy shorts, in 1927, as "Mickey McQuire". In 1937, he first portrayed, "Andy Hardy", in a series of films that would feature Judy Garland. The two would appear in 1930's musicals, such as "Babes in Arms" and "Babes on Broadway". Mickey Rooney would appear in dramatic roles, such as 1938's, "Boys Town", starring Spencer Tracy. Rooney had first billing in 1944's, "National Velvet", with a third billed young actress named, Elizabeth Taylor. Also, in 1954, was James A. Michener's, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri", starring William Holden.
Elaine Devry billed as Elaine Davis, portrayed "Audrey Nelson". A little type casting, as she was actually Mrs. Mickey Rooney. Devry was Rooney's fourth wife, the first was actress Ava Gardner and the last, and eighth, was Jan Chamberlain. In 1973, Devry portrayed "Sandy Bridgestone", the mother of "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf". Whose husband, played by Kerwin Mathews, was the second part of the title, and her son, played by Scott Sealey, the other half.
For 1954, just the premise of poking fun at the Atom Bomb was strange, but with the average American's lack of knowledge about what radiation could do. A film like, "The Atomic Kid", really worked, as a relief valve, to all the nuclear bomb talk we heard.
It should be noted, that on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, also in 1954. The Japanese motion picture company, Toho, had just released, "Gojira". In which the studio took the real, to the Japanese, Horror of the Atomic Bomb, and allegorically turned it into a giant nuclear breathing dinosaur.
Which in 1956, with an American re-edit, that removed all the direct correlations to the bombing of Hiroshima and the "Lucky Dragon #5" incident, changed the title character's name into "Godzilla".
Two uranium prospectors, ""Blix Waterberry" and "Stan Cooper", are wondering around in the desert at night and see a house in the middle of nowhere.
The two decide this is a model home for a proposed housing project and "Stan" wants to take the car, that's by the house, to the nearest town. While, "Blix", just found real food in the kitchen and decides to remain. Don't ask why, or the plot wouldn't move forward.
"Stan" leaves and "Blix" makes himself a Peanut Butter sandwich.
As he's enjoying the sandwich, he hears sirens go off, and a warning voice, realizing he's in an atomic bomb test site. Looking for a safe place, "Blitz and the Peanut Butter Sandwich", go into the refrigerator. The Bomb explodes off in the distance and the house is totaled.
Scientists and Military personal, involved with the test, arrive on site. Coming out from the rubble, Peanut Butter Sandwich still in hand, walks "Blix".
"Blix" is taken to a military hospital for treatment and observation. As news of "The Atomic Kid" leaks out.
Enter, "Nurse Audrey Nelson", to take care of "Blix". While in he hospital, "Stan" visits, but both are worried about him and the high concentration of radiation he took.
The "Peanut Butter Manufacturer" believes it was their product that saved "Blix's" life and starts a publicity "Blitz of Blix". "Nurse Nelson" and "Blitz" are falling in love, but he's wearing a special Geiger Counter Watch and every time they're about to kiss, it starts clicking, warning he could explode.
Of course, there is a group of Russian Spy's wanting to get their hands on "Blix" and learn how he survived the Atom Bomb Blast. The FBI recruits him and he helps break up the Spy ring.
Testing shows that "Blix" is no longer radioactive and he marries "Audrey Nelson". The two leave on their honeymoon, heading for Las Vegas, but it's night, and he gets lost on the dark roads. The two see a ranch style house in the distance and drive there. "Blix" parks the car, goes up to house to get directions from the occupants, but spots mannequins inside. Panic mode goes into gear, as "Blix" runs back to the car, gets in, pushes the accelerator to the floor, and speeds away.
Yes, the movie is dated, but a young boy named Steven Spielberg, enjoyed it and would watch the picture over and over again.
The following is the "Town" movie theater marquee, in Spielberg's 1985 "Back to the Future", at one point.
Also note that the following poster is being used.
THE 30 FOOT BRIDE OF CANDY ROCK released August 6, 1959
The posters said the movie was in "AMAZOSCOPE", but the title cards said it was:
It took three writers to create the story the screenplay was based upon. They were:
Lawrence L. Goldman, a television writer and screenplay writer for Roger Corman's, love this title, 1957, "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" and Corman's 1958, "War of the Satellites".
Jack Rabin was actually a Special Effects Artist, but he also came up with the story ideas for, 1953's, "Cat- Women of the Moon", Corman's 1958, "War of the Satellites" and 1959's, "Atomic Submarine". Rabin worked on the Special Effects on those three feature films and this one.
Irving Block was the third writer to contribute to the story behind the screenplay. As a story creator, his other work includes, the previous three mentioned motion pictures, 1956's, "Forbidden Planet" and 1957's, "KRONOS". Block was actually a Visual Effects Artist and worked in that capacity on this picture.
Which brings me to actual screenplay written by two other writers.
Rowland Barber was actually an author and two of his books have been turned into motion pictures. He was the co-author of Boxer Rocky Graziano's biography, "Somebody Up There Likes Me", and the non-fiction, 1968, "The Night They Raided Minsky's".
Arthur A. Ross' screenplays include, 1954's, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", and the pictures second sequel, 1956's, "The Creature Walks Among Us". In 1960, Ross, co-wrote the screenplay for Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen's, "The Three Worlds of Gulliver". Otherwise, he was primarily a television writer.
Lou Costello portrayed "Artie Pinsetter". He had been one-half of the Comedy Duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The two started having trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, in the early 1950's, and both started selling off everything they owned including their houses. In 1957, the Duo amicably split up, after a career that started in 1935.
"The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock" was Lou Costello's final on-screen appearance. He had passed away on March 3, 1959. Lou was 52 years old,
My article, "Abbott and Costello Meet the Universal Studio Classic Monsters" will be found at:
Dorothy Provine portrayed "Emmy Lou Rossiter". Provine had starred in 1958's, "The Bonnie Parker Story". That was another in a series of 1930's Hollywood Gangster movies, being turned out in the last half of the 1950's. The trend started with Mickey Rooney, starring as 1957's, "Baby Face Nelson", with co-star Carolyn Jones as his wife. Both movies are part of my article, "1957 TO 1961 HOLLYWOOD GANGSTER MOTION PICTURES VS REALITY", which may be read at:
After this motion picture, the now, Warner Brothers Contract Actress, would co-star on televisions, 1959, "The Alaskans", with Roger Moore and Jeff York, and 1960's, "The Roaring 20's", with Rex Reason, Along with guest shots on other series filmed by Warner Brothers. Taking her Comedic talent, Dorothy Provine, was part of the all-star cast in the epic Screwball Comedy, from Director Stanley Krammer, 1963's, "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" and Director Blake Edwards Comedy. 1965's, "The Great Race", co-starring with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Peter Falk.
Gale Gordon portrayed "Raven Rossiter". From 1952 through 1956, Gordon was part of the cast of Eve Arden's Comedy television hit, "Our Miss Brooks". He immediately followed that show with "The Box Brothers", co-starring with Comedian Bob Sweeney. Comedian Gordon's feature films prior to this motion picture included, 1958's "Rally 'Round the Flag Boys!", starring Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward, and 1959's, "Don't Give Up the Ship", starring Jerry Lewis. After this picture, Gale Gordon, appeared on several Comedy television shows and became "Mr. Wilson" to Jay North's, 1962, "Dennis the Menace". Starting in 1963, Gale Gordon, became known as the foil for Lucille Ball's jokes on "The Lucy Show", "Here's Lucy" and "Life With Lucy".
"Artie Pinsetter" is a junk/rubbish collector and inventor. He is engaged to Emmy Lou Rossiter" and they live in the small desert community of "Candy Rock".
Above "Artie" and "Emmy Lou" discuss their future together. She wants to get married now, but he wants to wait until his dream of becoming a great inventor comes true. That upsets "Emmy Lou" and she runs into a cave containing what is known as "Dinosaur Springs". However, there is a source of nuclear radiation in the cave and "Emmy Lou" goes "BIG"! "Artie", literally falls over on his back, as does the dog on his back, when "Emmy Lou" looks over the boulders.
What follows are typical comic bits and a rip-off of "The Attack of the 50 Foot Woman".
The first problem facing "Artie" and "Emmy Lou". is how to tell her rich Uncle about what has happened. When "Artie" says "Emmy Lou" is now "Big"! "Raven Rossiter", thinks "Big", as in "Pregnant" and wants "Artie" to immediately marry her.
"Artie" is able to get some help from his friends, but there are also gossips and word about "Emmy Lou" gets out. "Emmy Lou's" size leads to several sight gags.
Then an Army helicopter flies over the above scene, as they arrive to confront the 30-foot-tall woman, with typical 1940's-1950's comedy style military and government disfunction.
In typical Gale Gordon character style, "Emmy Lou's" Uncle, is thinking on ways to make more money.
As "Artie" is attempting to find a way to return "Emmy Lou" to her normal size. She decides to go to town and confront the "Fuddy-Duddies" and gossipy old woman there. A television news crew is broadcasting live and covers the "Attack of the 30 Foot Bride".