Tuesday, January 19, 2021

George Worthing Yates: Screenplays from 1927's LIGHTNING LARIATS to 1962's KING KONG VS GODZILLA

So, Who the Hell Is George Worthing Yates? Yates wrote 31screenplays and my reader should know at least one of them, if you're a true Science Fiction and Horror fan.

There really is not much I could locate for a biography of the writer. I confirmed George Worthing Yates, who also used the name of George Yates, Jr., was born on August 14, 1901, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the nephew of Herbert J. Yates, below, who founded and owned Republic Studios, located in the section of North Hollywood that became known as Studio City.

George Worthing Yates was the author of Five Murder Mystery novels:

1934's "Murder Among the Nudists", was to have been co-written with Charles Hunt Marshall. Who used the pen name of "Peter Hunt". However, I could not locate any biographical material about Hunt, but the name "Peter Hunt", was also used by George Worthing Yates, and possibly Marshall was really Yates.

1936's "There Was A Crooked Man"

1937's "The Body That Came By Post"

1939's "The Body That Wasn't Uncle"

1941's "If A Body".

However, I am interested in Yate's screenplays and his first was the silent "B" Western of this article's title.

 LIGHTNING LARIATS released January 30, 1927

The picture was Directed by Robert De Lacey, who between 1925 and 1930, Directed only 31 feature films, all "B" Westerns. 

The screenplay was based upon a story by George Worthing Yates entitled "Cowboy and King" and was co-written by Scottish born, F.A.E. Pine. This was Pine's 5th of only 6th screenplays and all were Westerns starring actor Tom Tyler.

My article, "Tom Tyler: the "B" Cowboy Star Who Became A Mummy, Captain Marvel and a Classic John Wayne Bad Guy" may be read at:


For the next eleven years, Yates, didn't write one other screenplay, but, instead, three of his mystery novels. Then his Uncle gave him a job as one of the six screenplay writers on a "Cliff Hanger".

THE LONE RANGER released February 12, 1938

This 15 Chapter, Four Hour and Twenty-Four minute serial had two Directors.

Between 1935 and 1951, John English, was primarily a "B" Western Director and than switched to television Westerns and Dramas.

William Witney, on the other hand, was primarily a "Cliff Hanger" Director. These included 1939's "Zorro's Fighting Legion", 1940's "The Mysterious Doctor Satan" and the "Drums of Fu Manchu". Witney also Director Tom Tyler's 194,1 "Adventures of Captain Marvel" and  another classic, 1946's "The Crimson Ghost". In 1954, William Witney switched to television Westerns, with "Tales of the Century".

While the main writing credit went to George Worthing Yates and Barry Shipman.

Shipman wrote mostly serials and his work includes, 1937's "Zorro Rides Again", 1938's "Dick Tracy Returns" and 1940's "Flash Gordon Conquerors the Universe".

Additional rewrites and screenplay changes came from Franklin (Franklyn) Aderon, Ronald Davidson and Lois Elby.

Lee Powell portrayed the role of "Allen King". "King" is the survivor of an ambush of "Texas Rangers" set up by ex-Confederate Officer "Mark Smith". Not following the popular radio series, or newspaper comic strip. "Smith" wants to conqueror Texas and set himself up as its Dictator. "Allen King" is described as "A Texan fighting against Smith and may be the Lone Ranger". This is never revealed in the "Cliff Hanger".

Victor Daniels aka: Chief Thundercloud portrayed "Tonto or Wild One in Native Language". Daniels was the first on-screen actor to portray "Tonto" and claimed to be born in the Oklahoma Territory and Native American. However, his birth certificate shows the State of his birth as Arizona and not to Native American parents.

The majority of Hollywood Native American roles where not portrayed by Native Americans. Although, like Canadian born, Mohawk, Jay Silverheels, "Tonto" on television. Some roles where, but they were scarce for decades. My article, "Native American's Hollywood Style" will be found at:


George Worthing Yates came up with the story idea for a typical 1930's combination of comedy, mystery and crime, released on January 10, 1939, as "The Mysterious Miss X". On April 10, 1940, Republic Pictures released, as was the practice, a shortened, edited version, of "The Lone Ranger" "Cliff Hanger", at only One Hour and Nine Minutes. This version, renamed "Hi-Yo Silver", shows up on lists of writing credits for Yates.

Three more formula "B" motion pictures from story ideas by the writer, followed and then two feature films co-starring Maureen O'Hara.

 THE SPANISH MAIN released October 4, 1945

This RKO Picture was Directed by Frank Borzage. Borzage started as an actor and between 1912 and 1918 appeared in 112 motion pictures. Between 1913 and 1959 he Directed 106 motion pictures.

The original story came from Aeneas MacKenzie. Along with writer John Huston, MacKenzie co-wrote the screenplay for 1939's "Juarez". His other screenplays include, Errol Flynn's 1939 "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" and 1940's "They Died With Their Boots On". In 1944, it was John Wayne's "The Fighting Seabees" and in 1956, Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments".

Along with George Worthing Yates as screenplay writer was Herman J, Mankiewicz. Who co-wrote Orson Welles' 1941's "Citizen Kane" and Gary Cooper's 1942's "The Pride of the Yankees".

Maureen O'Hara portrayed the "Contessa Francisca". Who, on her wedding day to an evil, naturally, corrupt governor of the Spanish settlement of Cartagena, is kidnapped by the pirate known as "The Barracuda". O'Hara had just portrayed Joel McCrea's wife in 1944's "Buffalo Bill".

Paul Henreid portrayed "Captain Laurent van Horn" aka: the Dutch Pirate "The Barracuda". In 1942, Henreid portrayed "Victor Laszlo" in "Casablanca".

Walter Slezak portrayed the corrupt governor, "Don Juan Alvarado". 

The second Maureen O'Hara motion picture had two writers.

SINBAD THE SAILOR released January 13, 1947

The feature film was Directed by Richard Wallace. Between 1925 and 1926, Wallace Directed 14 short subjects and then made his first feature length film. In 1940 Wallace had Directed Victor Mature in the "War of 1812" period movie, "Captain Caution", and in 1943, the Film-Noir, "The Fallen Sparrow". starring John Garfield, Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak.

John Twist came up with the story and worked on the screenplay. Twist started writing screenplays in 1927 and prior to this picture had worked as a contributing writer in several genres, His movies included the Barbara Stanwyck and Preston Foster, 1935 biography, "Annie Oakley", the Harry Carey, Sr. and Tim Holt 1938, "The Law West of Tombstone", the Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and John Wayne, 1942, "Pittsburgh", and the Pat O'Brien and Randolph Scott 1943, "Bombardier".

The main writing went to Yates and some of his dialogue included this passage from the film's opening:
O Masters, O Noble Persons, O Brothers, know you that in the time of the Caliph Harun-Al-Rashid, there lived on the golden shore of Persia a man of adventure called Sinbad the Sailor. Strange and wondrous were the tales told of him and his voyages. But who, shall we surmise, gave him his immortality? Who, more than all other sons of Allah, spread glory to the name of Sinbad? Who else, O Brother, but - Sinbad the Sailor! Know me, O Brothers, for the truth of my words, and by the ears of the Prophet, every word I have spoken is truth!

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. portrayed "Sinbad". He was following in his fathers footsteps in this film and others like the Alexander Dumas 1941 "The Corsican Brothers".

Maureen O'Hara portrayed "Shireen". 

Walter Slezak portrayed "Melik".

Anthony Quinn portrayed "The Emir".

All in search of the lost treasure of "Alexander the Great" and raising the question is "Sinbad the Sailor" the heir to the island containing the treasure, or just the greatest liar, adventurer, and lover in the Islamic World?

If my reader has never seen this feature film. What are you waiting for? As this is pure old fashion fun!

There are many film variations of the story of Sinbad from around the World. My article on a very large amount of these, "SINBAD (SINDBAD) THE SAILOR: From Popeye to 2016 Japanese Anime" may be found for your enjoyment at:


George Worthing Yates next wrote the screenplay for the Ronald Reagan, Rhonda Fleming and Bruce Bennett, Civil War Western from 1951, "The Last Outpost".

My article, "RONALD REAGAN MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION ACTOR" is available for reading at:


Then Yates created a fictional story, 1951's "The Tall Target", about an early plot to kill Abraham Lincoln prior to his inauguration. 

That motion picture would be followed by the 1952, Joan Crawford Drama, "This Woman is Dangerous", a World War 2 rescue film set in China, a Musical Western in 3-D, and then a picture, set in 15th Century Italy, 1954's, "The Saracen Blade", starring Ricardo Montalban. All bringing George Worthing Yates to the World of Science Fiction and Horror.

Ending A  Screen Writing Career With Lucky "13" Science Fiction and Horror Motion Pictures.

THEM! released June 15, 1954 

The motion picture was Directed by Gordon Douglas. Douglas had been Directing "Our Gang" comedies between 1935 and 1938. In 1939 he moved to feature films with Laurel and Hardy and then "B" films of all genres. In 1953 Douglas Directed his first 3-D feature, the very good Guy Madison and Vera Miles Western, "The Charge at Feature River".

was his second 3-D feature film. Although, Jack L. Warner. would not release the motion picture in the process.

George Worthing Yates had come up with the story of the Giant Ants being created from the first Atom Bomb Test at White Sands, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945.

The screenplay, which Yates oversaw, was written by two others. The first was Ted Sherdeman, the primary writer for the 1949 true story of "The Lost Dutchman Mine", entitled "Lust for Gold". That feature starred Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino. In 1969, Sherdeman, would be the primary writer for the American and Japanese co-production, from Japan's Toho Studios, "Latitude Zero", his only other Science Fiction screenplay.

The second writer was Russell S. Hughes. Hughes was mainly a 1950's television show writer starting the year before this film.

Gordon Douglas turned the four main characters of Yate's story into:

James Whitmore as "New Mexico Police Sergeant Ben Peterson". Whitmore had just been seen in a 1954 Western, in that new process called CinemaScope, "The Command", co-starring with Guy Madison and Joan Weldon. Russell S. Hughes had written the screenplay. The actor would follow "THEM!" with the outstanding World War 2 motion picture, 1955's "Battle Cry", based upon the best selling novel by Leon Uris. Who also wrote the screenplay.

Edmund Gwenn portrayed "Dr. Harold Medford". Gwenn portrayed "Kris Kringle", in the original 1947 "Miracle on 34th Street". Edmund Gwenn had started on-screen acting in 1916 and was the doctor that brings Boris Karloff back from the dead, in 1937's "The Walking Dead".

Joan Weldon portrayed "Dr. Patricia Medford". Weldon started motion picture acting the previous year and her second motion picture had been 1953's, "So This Is Love". Which was a musical biography of opera star "Grace Moore", portrayed by Kathryn Grayson. Joan Weldon started her career with the San Francisco Opera Company, singing opera, and shortly would return to that world.

James Arness portrayed "FBI Agent Robert Graham". Arness had just been seen in the 1953 3-D Western, "Hondo", starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page. On September 10, 1955, after being recommended for the role by Wayne, James Arness first played "Marshal Matt Dillon" for 635 episodes of televisions "Gunsmoke".

The basic story as created by George Worthing Yates has:

A young girl, played by Sandy Descher, found wandering in the New Mexico desert. This leads to discovering her family trailer destroyed and her parents missing. Also, discovered, is a strange imprint of some type of animal, maybe.

Tracing the license plate of the car, by the trailer, will lead to the girl's father an FBI Agent on vacation. Which brings in FBI Agent "Robert Graham" joining with New Mexico Police Officer "Ben Peterson" to investigate the apparent homicides. Also, by sending a plaster copy of the imprint to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Now brings out the two "Doctor Medford's" from the U,S, Department of Agriculture.

That now leads to the discovery of the Giant Ants created from the First Atomic Bomb Test.

Next, comes a search for the Giant Ant nest. Once located, cyanide is shot into it with bazooka's, "Graham", "Peterson" and "Dr. Patricia Medford" enter to search for the body of the "Queen", but discover there had been two. With both escaping to establish new nests somewhere in the United States.

Now, a second search begins to find the new nests. In a dramatic sequence, one of the nests is on a Merchant ship at sea. That ship is ordered sunk by a Navy Destroyer. Which, in turn, will be kept at sea to avoid word getting out about the Giant Ants.

The second nest is found to be in the sewers of Los Angeles and martial law is imposed. Two boys are trapped inside the same sewers and the dual search for them begins.

The boys and the nest are located, "Ben" helps the boys escape, but is killed as soldiers arrive.

"Robert Graham" gets caught on the wrong side of a cave-in and is rescued just as an ant attacks. The nest contains new "Queen's", but they are killed with the other ants by order of "Patricia Medford's" father.

The story ends with a warning about what the "Atomic Age" could bring.

CONQUEST OF SPACE released April 20, 1955

The movie was Produced by George Pal, 1950's "Destination Moon", 1951's "When Worlds Collide" and 1953's "War of the Worlds".

My article, "A FAN REMEMBERS GEORGE PAL: From "Puppetoons" to "Doc Savage, Man of Bronze" will be found at:


Byron Haskin, who had worked with George Pal before, Directed.

My article, that includes a different perspective on this picture, "Produced by GEORGE PAL, Directed by BYRON HASKIN: War of the Worlds 1953, The Naked Jungle 1954, Conquest of Space 1955, The Power 1968" may be read at:


To get to the screenplay by George Worthing Yates. We must look at a non-fiction work from 1949, "The Conquest of Space".

The book was illustrated by Chesley Bonestell. Whose paintings of outer space and space vehicles help inspire the American Space Program. Bonestell's work was used in both "Destination Moon" and "War of the Worlds".

The book text was written by German-American Science writer Willey Otto Oskar Ley. This non-fiction work was the first published book based upon known, for its time, scientific fact about space travel.

After Producer George Pal acquired the rights to the Bonestell and Ley work. He hired Yates to somehow turn it into a motion picture story. While, realizing, that turning a somewhat technical work on space travel, although it was written for the average reader, into an exciting Science Fiction motion picture was a hard sell.

George Worthing Yates made the decision to go back to a basic plot line, from the silent era, that had been used over and over by writers of both motion pictures and novels. His choice, became the reason this George Pal film, with its excellent Special Effects for 1955, is not considered one of Pal's best feature films.

The story revolves, partly, around what is supposed to be the first manned Space Flight to the Moon. The military crew are on an orbiting Space Station with a seemingly too large space craft under construction next to it. However, even the craft's commanding officer is about to discover that their real destination is Mars.

George Worthing Yates uses the old plot device of the "Commanding Officer" being the father of his "First Officer. Through all the son's life, there has been friction over the father's expectations that stifle the son's attempts to be his own man.

Next, Yates throws in the "Sergeant" that had been with the "Commanding Officer" for years. He doesn't understand why the son dislikes the "Sergeant's" hero.

Another source for George Worthing Yates' story was the writings of German American Rocket Scientist Wernher von Braun. Who received no on-screen credit.

To put Yate's story into an actual screenplay were three other writers,

Philip Yordan had already written screenplays for 1949's, "Reign of Terror", that was set during the France Revolution. 1950's "Panic in the Streets" was about a search for a person unknowingly carrying pneumonic plague1951's, "Detective Story", starred Kirk Douglas, George Pal's 1953's "Houdini" starred the husband and wife team of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Soldier ants attack Charlton Heston's rubber plantation in 1954's "The Naked Jungle".

"Conquest of Space" was the last screenplay for Yordan. As he became "Blacklisted" by the "House Committee On Un-American Activities" and left, as did many in the American motion picture industry, to the United Kingdom.

Barre Lyndon had already written screenplays for the 1944 "Jack the Ripper" feature, "The Lodger", 1945's "The House on 92nd Street", Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 "The Great Show on Earth" and George Pal's 1953 "War of the Worlds".

James O'Hanlon had written screenplays for the Humphrey Bogart 1943 World War 2, "Sahara", Judy Garland's 1946 Musica,l "The Harvey Girls", and George Pal's 1950, "Destination Moon".

Walter Brooke portrayed "General Samuel T. Merritt". Brooke was mostly an uncredited actor in films since 1941 and moved to television roles at the start of the 1950's.

Eric Fleming portrayed "Captain Barney Merritt". Fleming had been a unknown television actor since 1951. In 1958, he co-starred with Zsa Zsa Gabor, in the Cult Science Fiction movie, "Queen of Outer Space". In 1959, it was the odd Vampire story with a Western movie setting, the Cult Horror film, "Curse of the Undead".  Also in 1959, Eric Fleming, first appeared as "Gil Favor" on televisions "Rawhide".

Above Walter Brooke and Eric Fleming.

Mickey Shaughnessy portrayed "Sergeant Mahoney". This was the character actor's fourth motion picture. He had just been seen in 1953's "From Here to Eternity" and among his other films are, Elvis Presley's 1957 "Jailhouse Rock", Glenn Ford's 1958 "The Sheepman" and John Wayne's 1960 "North to Alaska".


Above, Mickey Shaughnessy is in the middle and to his left is Chinese Character Actor Benson Fong, 1944's "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and Humphrey Bogart's 1955 "The Left Hand of God". To Shaughnessy's right is Phil Foster, "Frank DeFazio", on televisions "Laverne and Shirley".

Also in this cast of unknowns are, William Hopper, Ray Harryhausen's 1957 "20 Million Miles to Earth" and televisions "Perry Mason". Ross Martin, televisions "The Wild, Wild West" and Italian actor comedian Vito Scotti, 1965's "Von Ryan's Express" and "The Godfather".


I go into detail about the film and its scientific accuracy. Along with a comparison to Director Stanley Kurbrick's 1968, "2001: A Space Odyssey" in my above mentioned article about Byron Haskin.

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA released in July 1955

"It Came from Beneath the Sea" was from Columbia Pictures Executive Producer Sam Katzman. Among his Productions are the "B" Bela Lugosi pictures, 1942's "Black Dragons" and "The Corpse Vanishes", Columbia serials, 1945 "Brenda Starr, Reporter", 1948's "Superman" and 1949's "Batman and Robin". My article, "Superman' Meets 'The Giant Claw' as the 'Earth vs the Flying Saucers': Executive Producer Sam Katzman" is linked below:


Producer Charles H, Schneer, become Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen's partner starting with this motion picture. My article, "CHARLES H. SCHNEER: Ray Harryhausen's Producer/Partner" is found at:


The motion picture was Directed by Robert Gordon. As a child actor, he portrayed the Al Jolson character, at age 13, in the 1927 "The Jazz Singer". Gordon started Directing "B" feature films in 1947 and just before this picture, Robert Gordon, Directed the 1953 boxing movie, "The Joe Louis Story". After "It Came from Beneath the Sea", he began television work.

The actual story and screenplay was from George Worthing Yates. His writing was designed to show off Ray Harryhausen's Stop Motion Animation over the live actors. While additional dialogue came from Harold Jacob Smith using the name Hal Smith. Smith was a Columbia Pictures contract writer and went were told too. 

Kenneth Tobey portrayed "Navy Commander Pete Mathews". Tobey had been in Ray Harryhausen's 1953 "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and earlier, in 1951, Howard Hawks' "The Thing from Another World". When I was eight years old, Tobey was one of my two neighbors in movies. My reader will find, "My Neighbors Actors Barbara Luddy and Kenneth Tobey" at:


Above Kenneth Tobey in Ray Harryhausen's supervised Colorization of the motion picture.

Faith Domergue portrayed "Professor Leslie Joyce". Besides this 1955 feature film, Domergue would be seen in two other Science Fiction entries and one overlooked Horror picture. My article about the actress and the year can be read in, "FAITH DOMERGUE: 1955 A.D." at:


Donald Curtis portrayed "Dr. John Carter". Curtis started on-screen acting in 1940. He even portrayed a character named "Ronal", without any on-screen credit, in all 12 Chapters of 1940's "Flash Gordon Conquerors the Universe". Curtis played roles described simply as "A Henchman" in several "B" Westerns and in 1942's, "Tombstone: The Town To Tough To Die", starring Richard Dix as "Wyatt Earp". Donald Curtis had 13th billing as "Phineas Clanton", the never mentioned brother of "Ike" and "Billy Clanton" in all the following and proceeding motion picture versions of "The Gunfight At The O.K. Corral". Which was good, because out of  his first 25 motion picture roles, 15 were without on-screen credit.

Yates' story starts by referencing the launching of the first nuclear powered submarine, the "Nautilus", thank you Jules Verne, in documentary style and implying, somewhat, that the one commanded by "Pete Matthews" is that submarine. Footage is used of the actual launching and testing of the "Nautilus" by Robert Gordon, adding to that idea.

Then on the shakedown cruise, something gigantic appears on the radar and sonar screens and a conclusion takes place. Surfacing, divers discover what appears to be part of a marine animal.

This brings in "Professor Joyce" and "Dr. Carter" to determine what type of marine animal the Navy is dealing with.

The determination is made of a giant octopus, the Navy thanks the two scientists, and plans to send them on their way.

Next, a ship is sunk by the octopus and things change. As it's determined the creature was exposed to radiation from Atomic Testing and has grown to enormous size and is hungry.

A search begins, which will lead to the Northern California coast line and another attack.

Everything now points to the creature coming ashore in San Francisco.


A specially designed explosive torpedo will be used to finally destroy the Giant Octopus.

EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS released in July 1956

This was the Era of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO's), re-enforced by the United States Air Force's "Project Blue Book". 

Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer decided to make a motion picture about a Worldwide attack on Earth from Outer Space. Not really new, but the idea was to make the Flying Saucers the main characters.

The two men turned to writer Curt Siodmak to create a story. Among Siodmak's screenplays are, 1941's "The Wolfman", and Producer Val Lewton's, 1943, "I Walked With a Zombie". Together with his Film-Noir Director Brother, Robert Siodmak, made 1943's "Son of Dracula". My article on the two brothers careers, "CURT and ROBERT SIODMAK: Horror and Film Noir", is for your reading at:


As with "Conquest of Space", there was a book as the story's source. Marine Corps Aviation Major, Donald Edward Keyhoe, wrote several aviation stories for pulp magazines, but in the 1950's, he became the leader of the UFO are real movement. He argued that the government needed to investigate Flying Saucers and wrote several articles and two books on the subject. One, 1953's, "Flying Saucers from Outer Space", became Curt Siodmak's source.


Next, Curt Siodmak's story was given to George Worthing Yates to turn into a screenplay. Yates now wrote the initial screenplay.

Additional work was given to Bernard Gordon. At the time Gordon was a "B" Horror writer and would write both 1957's ,"Zombies of Mora Tau", and "The Man Who Turned to Stone". In 1963, Bernard Gordon's name appeared on the American release, "Day of the Triffids", as the screenplay writer. The Science Fiction motion picture, from the U,K., had been titled there as "Invasion of the Triffids". However, Gordon was actually "Fronting His Name", in the United States, for the real writer, PhilipYordan, who was still "Blacklisted".

Hugh Marlowe portrayed "Dr. Russell A. Marvin". Marlowe was actually a "B" actor, but at times found himself with good roles in "A" movies. He was "Lieutenant Colonel Ben Gately" in 1949's, "Twelve O'Clock High", starring Gregory Peck, "Lloyd Richards", in 1950's, "All About Eve", starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, "Rafe Zimmerman" in the 1951 Western, "Rawhide", starring Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward and "Tom Stevens", in the 1951 Science Fiction classic, "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Also, in 1956, Hugh Marlowe, led the cast of another excellent Science Fiction motion picture, "World Without End", featuring Australian actor Rod Taylor, at the start of his American film career.

Joan Taylor portrayed "Mrs. Carol Marvin". Taylor was a "B" actress and after this picture, she co-starred with William Hopper, in Ray Harryhausen's "20 Million Miles to Earth", but would become a television actress afterwards.

Above Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor in the Ray Harryhausen supervised colorized version of the picture.

Donald Curtis portrayed "Air Force Major Huglin". 

Morris Ankrum portrayed "Brigadier General John Haney". Ankrum was in an unusual number of Science Fiction motion pictures in the 1950's. These included, 1950's "Rocketship X-M", 1951's "Flight to Mars", 1952's "Red Planet Mars", and 1953's "Invaders from Mars". My article, "MORRIS ANKRUM THE FACE OF 1950'S SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR MOVIES" can be found at:


"Dr. Marvin" is the head of the Air Force's Space Program, code named "Sky Hook". He is sending up satellites, but somehow they're falling back to Earth. He has just married "Brigadier General Hanley's" daughter and the two are heading back to the project, but a flying saucer appears behind the car.

"Dr. Marvin" has been using a tape machine to record his thoughts on what is causing the downing of the satellites. When a flying saucer appears behind their car and the high pitch "Saucer Sound" is unknowingly recorded, 


At a barbeque, at the "Marvin's" house, the latest satellite is spotted in the sky by, "Russell", "Carol" and her father as it falls out of orbit and apparently crashes.

The three also observe what "Dr. Marvin's" calls "St. Elmo's Fire". Which he explains is a harmless weather occurrence, but as he will learn later, is an alien listening device. 

The next day as "Sky Hook" is about to launch another satellite, a flying saucer appears, and a small engagement by the military takes place as the base is destroyed. Additionally, "Brigadier General John Hanley" is captured.

Trapped in a buried bunker, the "Marvin's" listen to the tape recorder as its power winds down. At a slower speed they hear a message from the flying saucer saying they are coming to "Sky Hook". The aliens want to meet with "Dr. Marvin", but having only heard the "Saucer Sound". The message was never understood.

There is also instructions for a radio frequency to contact the aliens. "Dr. Marvin" wants to do just that, but the military and government doesn't want him too. There will be a meeting on one of the saucers and a demonstration of how the aliens acquire knowledge. By showing the "Marvin's", "Major Huglin" and a police officer the now brainless "John Hanley".

All of this leads to a final battle with the flying saucers and the use of a weapon created by "Dr. Marvin" to down them,

THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN released October 25, 1957

The motion picture was Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon. Also, in 1957, he did the same for the "Beginning of the End" and "The Cyclops". My article, "Growing Up on a Diet of 'Mr. B.I.G.' BERT I. GORDON: Giant and Little People and Grasshoppers" is available to be read at:


American International Pictures hired Roger Corman to make a Comedy about a giant man. However, Corman dropped out and was replaced  by Bert I. Gordon. Gordon is also credited with writing the screenplay. However, that really was written by one of Corman's writers, Mark Hanna. For Roger Corman, Hanna came up with the 1957 screenplays for "The Undead" and "Not of This Earth".

The screenplay wasn't exactly what AIP wanted and George Worthing Yates was hired to clean it up and add a little scientific flare to the script. Yates received no on-screen credit for his work.

Glenn Langan portrayed "Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Manning". Langan was a solid supporting actor in both "A" and "B" list features. Among his work was a small role as a "Medical Intern", in the Humphrey Bogart Horror movie, 1939's "The Return of Dr. X". He was in Bogart and Raymond Massey's 1943 "Action in the North Atlantic" and the Laird Gregar, Linda Darnell and George Sanders murder mystery, 1945's "Hanover Square". Langan had 4th billing in 1945's "A Bell for Adano" and another 4th billing, behind Gene Tierney, Walter Huston and Vincent Price, in 1946's "Dragonwyck".

Unfamiliar with Bogie as a Horror actor? My article, "HUMPHREY BOGART: Horror Actor" is chilling available for reading at:


Cathy Downs portrayed "Carol Forrest". Downs' one major "A" list role was as "Clementine Carter" in Director John Ford's 1946 classic Western, "My Darling Clementine", starring Henry Fonda and Victor Mature. Otherwise, she was a "B" actress and moved to television.

The story line has "Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Manning" exposed to a plutonium bomb and surviving to become the title character. His mind starts to go, his girl friend is attempting to discover what happened to him, and "Manning" takes a walk through Las Vegas.

The military doctors have found a way to possibly stop "Manning's" growth and near Boulder Dam they injected him, but he uses the giant hypodermic needle to kill one of the doctors. Then he's cornered on the dam by the military and shot off it.

THE FLAME BARRIER released April 2, 1958

The motion picture was Directed by Paul Landres. Although primarily a television Director, Landres made two overlooked, due to the arrival of Hammer films 1958 "Horror of Dracula" with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, good vampire features.

The first is 1957's "The Vampire", about a small-town doctor and loving father, who accidently becomes the title character! The second is, 1958's "The Return of Dracula", updated and set in a 1958 Southern California rural community. The plot has "Dracula" hiding out from his European pursuers. By assuming the identity of his victim, on a European train, an artist Cousin of a member of an American family.

My article about the actor playing "Dracula" in the motion picture and an episode of Rod Sterling's "Night Gallery":

"FRANCIS LEDERER the Forgotten 'Dracula': A Film and Stage Actor's Life" can be read at:


Landres "The Vampire" is part of my article looking at non-Dracula based vampire films, "Not the Same Old VMPIRE Movies, or Get Your Dentures Away from My Jugular Vein" at:


The story and initial screenplay was by George Worthing Yates.

The screenplay was co-written by Pat Fielder. Whose two previous screenplays are the aforementioned "The Vampire" and the Cult Classic, 1957 "The Monster That Challenged the World", starring "B" Cowboy actor Tim Holt. 

My article, "TIM HOLT: Directors John Ford, Orson Welles, John Huston and a Prehistoric Snail" will be found at:


Arthur Franz portrayed "Dave Hollister". Franz was the title character in 1951's "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man". That same year he took a "Flight to Mars" and in 1953 fought the "Invaders from Mars". While in 1954 he took part in "The Caine Mutiny" and in 1958 was a "Monster on the Campus".

Kathleen Crowley portrayed "Carol Dahlmann". Crowley was mainly a television actress, but in 1954, she was "Nora King", in Richard Denning's Science Fiction feature, "Target Earth". 

Robert Brown portrayed "Matt Hollister". Brown was primarily a television actor and portrayed "Lazarus", on March 30, 1967, in the original "Star Trek" episode, "The Alternative Factor". From 1968 through 1970, he was "Jason Bolt", on the television series "Here Come the Brides". Robert Brown also starred as "Carter Primus", on the forgotten, one season, 1971 television Adventure series, "Primus".


Above Arthur Franz, Kathleen Crowley and Robert Brown

American satellite X-117 crashes in the Mexican jungle after going through "The Flame Barrier". An area supposedly surrounding the Earth at 200 miles altitude. Rich Industrialist, "Howard Dahlmann", played by Dan Gachman, went into the jungle to recover X-117, but never returned. His wife, "Carol", now decides to find him and arriving in Campeche, Mexico, meets two jungle guides, the brothers "Hollister". 

With porters, the three leave following "Howard's" map, a copy of which "Carol" possesses. They find a strangely burnt skeleton, but it's not her husband. The three set up a camp and checking out the surrounding area. They discover a badly burned tribesman who is barely alive. Bringing him to the camp for treatment, the man dies, suddenly, his body bursts into flames and leaves a skeleton like the one they first found.

One by one the porters are leaving, because of "The God of Fire". The three discover "Howard's" camp, but he's not there. However, the chimpanzee that went up in X-117 is there.  Eventually, another native leads them to a cave containing "The God of Fire". There, they find the X-117 surrounded by an alien blob and in it is "Howard's" perfectly preserved head.

The chimp approaches the alien blob and meets a deadly electrical force field and is killed.

"Dave" and "Matt" calculate that the blob is doubling in size every two hours and will eventually equal the size of the cave and push outward. "Dave" notices that the X-117 is sitting upon two veins of metallic ore. He suggests to the other two, that if they can connect a solar battery to both veins of ore. They may be able to destroy the alien blob. "Matt" climbs above the blob to finish the connection and it turns out the three miscalculated the time before the blob would double in size once more. The alien starts to double its size, but to allow "Dave" and "Carol" to escape. "Matt" sacrifices himself by diving into the blob to distract it and permitting "Dave" to electrocute the alien.

"Dave" and "Carol" walk away from the cave.

ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE released in April 1958

Above the United States poster and below the Spanish language poster.

Once again, this feature was Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon. Gordon, also came up with the story concept and turned it over to George Worthing Yates to write the screenplay. Which was the Producers answer to the very successful, 1957, "The Incredible Shrinking Man", from Universal International Pictures. 

John Agar portrayed "Bob Westley". While filming his first motion picture, John Ford's 1948, "Fort Apache".  Agar met Shirley Temple and the two would be married. However, in a messy divorce, Agar found himself outcast by the Major Studios and turned to the minors. In 1955, his new career as a 1950's Science Fiction star began with Universal International's, "Tarantula".

My article, "John Agar His Fall That Led to Science Fiction Cult Status" is available to be read at:


John Hoyt portrayed "Mr. Franz". Hoyt's career started in 1946 with the Alan Ladd espionage feature, "O.S.S.". His other work included both 1951's Science Fiction features, "The Lost Continent" and George Pal's "When World's Collide". The same year he appeared in the James Mason biography, "The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel". Next, it was the Ricard Greene and Boris Karloff 1952, "The Black Castle" and the 1953, version of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", starring Marlon Brando and James Mason.

June Kenney portrayed "Sally Reynolds". Before this picture, Kenney appeared in three Roger Corman 1957 feature films. The three included one with the greatest titles in movie history, "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent".

Susan Gordon, Bert's daughter, portrayed "Agnes". This was her first on-screen appearance and she would appear in her father's 1960 "The Boy and the Pirates". In it she co-starred with Charles Herbert, 1958's "The Fly" and William Castle's original 1960 "13 Ghosts".

My article on the tragic tale of Herbert is part of "Richard Eyer and Charles Herbert: Youthful Actors" at:


Should you don't recognize Eyer's name, think the "Genie" in Ray Harryhausen's "7th Voyage of Sinbad".

Above Susan Gordon with John Hoyt

"Sally Reynolds" answers an ad for a secretary for "Mr. Franz's" doll making business. His first secretary has mysteriously disappeared.  A traveling salesman, "Bob Westley", comes in and the two will develop a relationship. "Franz" is a very lonely man and has developed a machine to shrink people into doll size and eventually he uses the procedure on "Sally" and "Bob".

The two meet the other "Dolls".

The "Attack", there isn't one, comes at the end, after "Bob" and the others figure out how to reverse the process and return to normal size. "Bob" and "Sally" are returned to their normal size, go for the police, as "Franz" pleads not to be left alone, but the picture ends without explaining what happened to the others still doll size people.

WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST released in June 1958

This was actually the companion film to "Attack of the Puppet People" on the same double-bill. As with the other, Bert I. Gordon, Produced, Directed and came up with the story idea, but it was Yates who had to turn the idea into an actually screenplay. 

The tag line:

is misleading. The screenplay is actually the direct sequel to the previous years "The Amazing Colossal Man".

Sally Fraser portrayed "Joyce Manning". The only other feature film work for actress Fraser's are Roger Corman's, 1956, "It Conquered the World", as Peter Graves wife, and two 1958 Science Fiction motion pictures, "Giant from the Unknown" and Bert I. Gordon's "The Earth vs the Spider".


Roger Pace portrayed "Major Mark Baird". Pace only has 10 on-screen credits and, again, mostly on television. 

Duncan "Dean" Parkin portrayed "Colonel Glenn Manning" in this feature. Parkin appeared in only one other film, Bert I. Gordon's 1957, "The Cyclops", in the title role.

Above Parkin as "Colonel Glenn Manning" and below as "Bruce Barton" "The Cyclops".

There have been newspaper articles about large amounts of food being stolen from damaged trucks in Mexico. "Joyce Manning" believes this is being caused by her brother, "Colonel Glenn Manning", who fell off Boulder Dam the previous year. She goes to the Army with her theory and "Major Mark Baird" and Army scientist, "Dr. Carmichael", played by Russ Bender, go with her to Mexico to investigate. The three discover "Colonel Manning" has survived, the growth was stopped, but his mind is now completely gone and his face disfigured from the fall. 

Drugging food placed inside a large truck, "Manning" is captured, and brought back to Los Angeles. Where he is placed in an unused hanger at the Burbank Airport.

This doesn't work, "Manning" breaks his chains, gets loose, and heads for the Hollywood Hills.

That night, "Glenn Manning," is spotted near the Griffith Park Observatory and the military moves in. At the Observatory are several school buses for students inside, but when they come out and go to their respective buses. "Manning" picks one up, "Sally" approaches, and finally gets through to him. He puts the bus safely down.

"Army Colonel Glenn Manning" aka: "The Amazing Colossal Man" aka: "The Colossal Beast" can't live anymore like this and heads for the nearby electric lines.

On the above poster's lower right hand corner, but unreadable, is another "Tag Line". It tells the viewers that they will get to see the "Colossal Beast" destroyed in Color.

"Manning" places his hand on the electrical lines and the film switches to color for the ending.

Above is the January, 1958, cover of "Famous Monsters of Filmland",  that had a story about the movie inside. 4E Ackerman plugged past and upcoming features in his magazine this way.

SPACE MASTER X-7 released on July 16, 1958

The motion picture was Directed by short subject Director turned "B" feature film Director, Edward Bernds. This was his second Science Fiction entry and his first is the very good, 1956, "World Without End". After, "Space Master X-7", Bernds Directed the Cult Science Fiction, 1958's "Queen of Outer Space" and, in 1959, the sequel to the original 1958's "The Fly", 1959's "Return of the Fly".

The original story and screenplay came from George Worthing Yates. It predates Michael Crichton's novel "The Andromeda Strain" by eleven years, but the similarities in the stories are still discussed by Science Fiction film historians.

Daniel Mainwaring also worked on the screenplay. Mainwaring wrote "B" Westerns and Dramas with one exception, 1956's, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

Bill Williams portrayed "John Hand". Williams had been acting since 1944, but is best remembered for the television series, "The Adventures of Kit Carson", from 1951 through 1955.

Lyn Thomas portrayed "Laura Greeling". She was basically a television actress.

Paul Frees portrayed "Dr. Charles T. Pommer". Frees was a voice actor and worked with Rankin and Bass and Jay Ward. His two most recognizable voices are, "Boris Badenov", from "Rocky and Friends", and as the, "Ghostly Narrator", of the Walt Disney, "Haunted Mansion".

For my readers, who are fans of "Boris", "Rocky", and "Bullwinkle". My article, "JAY WARD and ALEX ANDERSON: Crusader Rabbit Into Rocket J. Squirrel" will be found at:


A probe named "Space Master X-7" was sent into outer space. It crashes back on Earth covered with a microorganism like fungus. Against the projects Security Chief, "John Hand's", advise. "Dr. Pommer" is permitted to take a sample home to his private laboratory. There he discovers that the microorganism can multiply at an alarming rate and absorbs any living matter including humans. The fungus is red in color and "Pommer" names it "Blood Rust".

His ex-wife shows up and wants the doctor to sign over complete custody to their child. He agrees and she leaves, but later that night. "Dr. Pommer" calls " Hand" and urgently wants him to come to his home. When "John Hand" and his assistant "Joe Rattigan", played by Robert Eillis, arrive. They find the home laboratory covered with "Blood Rust" and an absorbed "Pommer". The two are able to get "Dr. Pommer's" tape recordings out of the lab and "Hand" has a team sent in to burn the place and kill the still multiplying microorganism.

Next, listening to the tape recording, they hear a women's voice and the search for the unknown, probable carrier of "Blood Rust", in on. The discovery of the organism on a train, will lead to a climax on a passenger airplane, as "Blood Rust" spreads from the baggage compartment.

For a more detailed look at this motion picture. My article, "X-the Unknown', 1956, "Space Master X-7", 1958, 'First Man Into Space', 1959" can be read at:


FRANKENSTEIN 1970 released July 20, 1958

The motion picture was co-produced by George Worthing Yates and Aubrey Schneck. Schneck, as a producer, between 1946, starting with the Vincent Price and Lynn Bari, Film-Noir, "Shock", would make 59 motion pictures through 1973.

The Director was Howard W. Koch. Between 1954 and 1977, Koch Directed a combination of 93 motion pictures and television  shows. However, like Aubrey Schneck, he was best known as a producer, starting in 1953 with the Robert Stack and Joan Taylor Western, "War Paint". When he stopped producing, in 2002, he had 68 motion pictures to his credit. Among them are William Castle's 1958, "Macabre", Frank Sinatra's, 1962 "Sergeant's Three", and Sinatra's 1962, "Manchurian Candidate" Directed by John Frankenheimer.

Schneck had come up with the idea for the story and George Worthing Yates expanded on it with input by somebody named Charles A. Moses. Whose only credit is this film. 

Yates drafted the original screenplay with Richard H Landau. Landau had worked on 1951's "The Lost Continent", 1953's "Spaceways", 1955's "The Quatermass X-periment" and the very good weird Mummy story, the forgotten, 1957, "The Pharaoh's Curse".

Boris Karloff portrayed "Baron Victor von Frankenstein". Karloff had just been seen in 1957's "Voodoo Island", from Producers Schneck and Koch, and was guesting on television programs.

Don "Red" Barry portrayed "Douglas Row". Barry was a major 1930's and 1940's "B" Cowboy star. By the end of his career, in 1981, Barry had 281 on-screen roles to his credit.

Above, Don "Red" Barry, is to Boris Karloff's left, and Jana Lund, as "Carolyn Hayes", to his right. In the background is Charlotte Austin as "Judy Stevens".

The movie opens in a typical 1930's Universal Pictures sequence in perfect black and white. As a village girl is being chased by  the "Frankenstein Monster" seen from its back.

Suddenly the audience hears the word "Cut" and the viewing audience realizes this is a Horror movie being filmed. The motion picture crew has been given access to film on the real "Frankenstein Estate" by the last surviving member of the family. There's a great sequence, I wish it was longer, that Boris Karloff has a monologue in the family burial vault, about the history of the "Frankenstein Family".

What the film crew doesn't know is that the money paid to the Baron went to the purchase of an Atomic Reactor to create a new creature from parts he's obtained. However, the Baron runs out of body parts and has his now living creature, not completed, but bandaged, killing off the film crew to complete his creation.

Above Tom Duggan as "Mike Shaw" meets his death. Below, Jan Lund as a potential victim.


In the climax, the monster turns on it creator and in an Atomic Reactor explosion, both are killed. The wrappings on the monster's head has been burnt off and in an interesting twist. The face revealed is that of Boris Karloff, playing both the creator and the creation.

George Worthing Yates returned to Bert I. Gordon with:


As you have read, like all his features during this period, the picture was Produced, Directed and based upon a story idea by Gordon. The major screenplay was written by Yates and additional material from Laszlo Gorog. Gorog had been a television writer since 1953, but he also co-wrote the screenplays for 1956's "The Mole People" and 1957's "The Land Unknown".

Ed Kemmer portrayed "Professor Art Kingman". From 1950 through 1955, for 181 live episodes, Kemmer was "Commander Buzz Corry", of the Science Fiction series, "Space Patrol". He was also in the 1958 Science Fiction movie "Giant from the Unknown". "Space Patrol", was the program Gene Roddenberry credited for inspiring "Star Trek".

It is only one of several early television Science Fiction programs I look at, in "Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock 1950's TV Science Fiction" linked below:


Above Ed Kemmer on the right.

June Kenney portrayed "Carol Flynn".

Eugene "Gene" Persson, seen above, portrayed "Mike Simpson". Persson was a television actor and only had  a 24 role career with his first 10 without credit.

Sally Fraser portrayed "Mrs. Helen Kingman". 

"Carol Flynn's" alcoholic father is driving his truck on the way home with a bracelet for her birthday. Suddenly, a rope like substance hit his truck and "Jack Flynn" never comes home.


The next morning the concerned "Carol" convinces her boyfriend "Mike" to help locate her father. They find his destroyed truck, the bracelet, but no body. 

Near the wreckage is a cave with "Jack Flynn's" hat outside and the two enter. Only to fall into the web of a giant Tarantula.

The Tarantula attacks, but the two manage to escape and go to "Sheriff Cagle", played by Gene Roth. "Cagle" is having a hard time believing their story, but with the help of Science Teacher, "Mr. Kingman", he agrees to the cave.

Inside, they discover "Frank Flynn's" body drained of all fluids.

Next, the Tarantula attacks the four and that obviously convinces the Sheriff. Who orders a truck load of DDT to be used against the insect. 

The lifeless body of the Tarantula is taken to the school gym and placed against the wall. A group of teenage musicians come to rehearse and their rock and roll music awakens the giant spider. Now, the townspeople are running for their very lives. While, unknown to everyone else, "Carol" and "Mike" have gone back to the cave to retrieve the bracelet she lost the first time they encountered the Tarantula.

The Tarantula leaves the town and is followed to the cave and sealed in with dynamite along with the two teenagers. A plan to rescue the two and finally kill the spider is put together. 

For those interested in a more detailed look at this picture.

My article, "THEM!', 'TARANTULA', 'THE MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL', 'THE DEADLY MANTIS', 'THE BEGINNING OF THE END', 'THE BLACK SCORPION', and 'THE EARTH VS THE SPIDER': In the 1950's Insects Bugged America" will be found at:


TORMENTED released September 22, 1960

This Horror story was Produced and Directed by Bert I. Gordon. The story idea was Gordon's, but the screenplay was from George Worthing Yates.

Richard Carlson portrayed "Tom Stewart". The year prior, Carlson had starred on the one-season television series, set after the Civil War, "Mackenzie's Raiders". Following this film, the star of 1953's "It Came from Outer Space" and 1954's "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" was now a full time television guest actor, but did take a two picture break for the George Pal 1968 thriller, "The Power" and Ray Harryhausen's 1969 "Valley of Gwangi".

My article, "Richard Carlson the Academic Turned Actor" may be read at:


Susan Gordon portrayed "Sandy Hubbard". Bert I. Gordon's daughter had just been seen in the double role of "Katrina Van Keif/Kathy" in her father's 1960 "The Boy and the Pirates", but was also being seen in episodes of many television programs, such as, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Gunsmoke".

Lugene Sanders portrayed "Meg Hubbard". From 1953 through 1957, Sanders portrayed "Bab's Reily" on the television series "The Life of Reily" starring William Bendix and Marjorie Lord. Her on-screen roles, included that tv show, totaled four and this was her last.

Juli Reding portrayed "Vi Mason". Twenty of her twenty-two roles were on television. 

The ghost story was very basic, but effective in its own way. Jazz pianist "Tom Stewart" is planning to marry "Meg Hubbard", but his old vindictive girlfriend, "Vi Mason", shows up. She meets him on the landing of an old Lighthouse and as they arguing the railing gives way. "Vi" is barely hanging on and asks "Tom" for his help. He refuses and she falls to her death.

Next, "Vi's" ghost starts to haunt "Tom". "Meg's" sister, "Sandy", starts to put things together, but how to prove it?

"Tom" goes to the Lighthouse to confront "Vi's" ghost, but discovers "Sandy" has followed and is listening. He now must kill the girl, but "Vi" prevents him and in the end, she wins! "Tom" falls to his death off the same railing and the two are joined for eternity.

KINGU KONGU TAI GOJIRA released in Japan August 11, 1962

KING KONG VS GODZILLA initially released January 5, 1963 in South Korea

Above the original poster for the Japanese version, and below, the poster for the English language version of the Toho Production.

It starts in the United States during 1959.

Producer Irwin Allen wanted to remake Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Lost World". He acquired the rights to the novel from Doyle's estate and began preparations. Allen, next approached Willis O'Brien, who had made the classic, 1925, version, to work on the production. 

"Obie" and Ray Harryhausen had created the 8 minute dinosaur sequence for Allen's 1956 documentary, "The Animal World". So, when Irwin Allen approached Willis O'Brien for this project. The Stop Motion Animator should have remembered his experience on the former motion picture. 

When, instead of quality Stop Motion Animation, as O'Brien and Harryhausen had used in 1949's, "Mighty Joe Young", Producer Irwin Allen wanted corners cut to save money. The Stop Motion Animators were forced to use replacement models that gave the dinosaurs a jerky look.

Now Allen, really only wanted to use Willis O'Brien's name to obtain backers for his remake. However, O'Brien thought that as the "Special Effects Technician", he was going to create quality Stop Motion Animation. "Obie" prepared sketches and other materials to present to Irwin Allen. Instead, Allen resorted to using lizards, as in the Hal Roach, 1940, "One Million B.C.", and Willis O'Brien felt he had been used.

My article, "WILLIS O'BRIEN: 1925's 'The Lost World' and the Story of Gwangi" is available to be read at:


However, also in 1960"Obie" was writing his own screenplay entitled "King Kong vs Frankenstein". 

The basic story moves "Kong" from "Skull Island" to Africa. There he is the protector of the Apes and other animals. Also, in Africa, is "Dr. Frankenstein", who has been driven from his own country and has set up a laboratory in an uncharted area of the African Continent. There, the doctor is creating a giant Gorilla out of parts from other small apes. He brings it to life and it is up to "King Kong" to stop "Dr. Frankenstein" and his creation, but the story now moves from Africa to San Francisco, California, for the final fight.

Below is one of Willis O'Brien's sketches for his envisioned motion picture.

Above left, is the "Frankenstein Gorilla", and on the right, is the new "King Kong". Note: the obvious height difference between the human in the middle and the two Gorilla's.

O'Brien couldn't go to RKO, who had helped fund and distributed both 1933's, "King Kong" and "Son of Kong", and 1949's "Mighty Joe Young", because the studio was still in financial difficulties. In 1955, Howard Hughes had sold the studio to "General Tire". Forming "RKO General", then the new company sold their domestic distribution operations, in 1957, to "Universal International". Two years later, "RKO General" declared Bankruptcy on March 7, 1959. In June 1962, what was left of "RKO General" attempted, with "Zenith Electronics", to form a subscription television service and their troubles continued.

Next, Willis O'Brien was introduced to independent Producer John Beck, not to be confused with the actor of the same name. Beck had made the Robert Walker and Ava Gardner, 1948, "Once Touch of Venus" and James Stewart's, 1950 classic, "Harvey". 

At this time, John Beck was renting an office on the "Universal International Pictures" lot.

O'Brien, again, should have remembered Irwin Allen and read the fine print in John Beck's contract. Once again, the Stop Motion Animator thought he would be creating the two creatures of his screenplay, but Beck reacted to the actual proposed costs for that process and started looking for other options. 

John Beck also discovered that "Universal International" owned the North American rights to the name "Frankenstein". Which would create additional costs to him over using their copyright, if the picture kept that name.

Further, because of those related costs, John Beck turned to George Worthing Yates. He wanted Yates to rewrite "Obie's" screenplay to a more cost-effective version. The result was now called "King Kong vs Prometheus". Which was George Worthing Yates' "Inside Joke" to get around the "Universal International Pictures" copyright. Remembering that the actual title of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's novel is: "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus".

John Beck
 now found a way around his financial problems. They were solved by reading that Japan's "Toho Studio's" was planning to bring back their kaiju character "Gojira". Beck approached Tomoyuki Tanaka, of Toho, about a co-production released to Asian markets by Toho and English language markets by him. An agreement was made, but a surprise awaited John Beck.

Tanaka had turned over Yates' screenplay to Shinchi Sekizawa. Who set out to turn the American screenplay into an acceptable Japanese production. Now, using "Gojira" instead of either Willis O'Brien's, or George Worthing Yates secondary monsters.

At this point, apparently, Willis O'Brien had no idea what John Beck was actually doing and was preparing his storyboards for "King Kong vs Frankenstein". 

"Toho" shot the motion picture and Tomoyuki Tanaka sent John Beck a copy of what was now titled "Kingu Kongu tai Gojira". The "Toho Production" has a running time of 98 minutes. 

Beck now viewed the Japanese picture and discovered it wasn't either Willis O'Brien's or George Worthing Yates' screenplay, but was partly, in many areas, a Comedy. 

To be specific, in 1962, there was a major change in the decades old Japanese Business Model. Japan was creating a new version based upon the American Business Model. Shinichi Sekizawa had created a Parody about how Japanese Business men were adjusting to the new American style of doing business and all the reported problems that Japanese consumers faced as a result.

John Beck had expected  the Yates' revision of an all-out monster battle and received, basically, a Pharmaceutical Executive, "Mr. Tako", played Ichiro Arishima, below, out to use "King Kong" like the "Pillsbury Doughboy" for his products.

While, Mie Hama, was doing her best Japanese Fay Wray.

John Beck called upon George Worthing Yates to help him turn the "Toho Production" into his American monsters on the loose feature. For whatever reason, I could not locate, Yates would not work on the re-edited screenplay. 

Enter, Paul Mason, his only credit being the third writer on the George Hamilton and Mercedes McCambridge, 1961, motion picture, "Angel Baby", and assisting Mason was Bruce Howard, a Comedy writer for televisions, "The Red Skelton Show", to somehow change the "Toho" picture into John Beck's vision.

The English language, "King Kong vs Godzilla", has a running time of only 91 minutes, 7-minutes shorter than the Japanese original cutThat running time includes all the added American footage. Begging the question, how much was cut out of the original feature film?

Some of the more obvious changes and not so obvious:

The John Beck's version added "United Nation's Reporter, Eric Carter", played by Michael Keith, left above, and, the "Head of the New York City Museum of Natural History, Dr. Arnold Johnson", played by Harry Holcombe, right. Some sites state "Johnson" was portrayed by William Byron Morrow, below, and other sites do not mention the actor at all.

Les Tremayne provided the dubbed in English voices for the characters of "Commander Roberts", "General Shinzo", and was the films narrator as in the opening sequence. While both Mason and Howard as providing miscellaneous voices.

That added footage included the alien space station base from "Toho Studos", 1957"Earth Defense Force", aka: 1959's, English language version, "The Mysterians", as an "United Nation's Communication Satellite". Watch the footage, not even closely, and you will see the alien flying saucers arriving.

From the same motion picture, the opening village Earthquake sequence was edited into the climatic fight between "King Kong" and 'Godzilla" to make it more exciting.

The opening appearance with "Godzilla", breaking free of the Iceberg, in the English language version, and his first attack on a Japanese military base. Both contain no references to the ending of the previous "Toho" motion picture, 1955's, "Counterattack of Gojira", aka: 1959's, "Godzilla Raids Again". That had established, to Asian audiences, that this kaiju is the same seen being encased in ice at the climax of that previous feature film. Which explains how in John Beck's version, the helicopter pilot calls the creature "Godzilla". When to this point in his screenplay there is no known creature by that name to fight "King Kong"Which is further established, when the "U.N. Reporter" remarks:
that the World is shocked with the appearance of a living dinosaur.

The John Beck version removes the entire "Pacific Pharmaceutical Company Party" sequence that mentions the change in the Japanese business model. Earlier, there were scenes, also removed, at the television studio during a live commercial for the company. That further sets up the search for the "Red Berries" and the "Monster" that the company's owner, "Mr. Tako", wants.

The above dialogue will lead our two adventures to "Faro Island" and another editing problem for Beck's film editor Peter Zinner1966's, "The Professionals" and 1972's, "The Godfather", and writers Mason and Howard

First, there was the attempt to make the somewhat Comic "Faro Islanders" and their Chief into the fierce "Skull Islanders". Which doesn't really work.  

Next, the Japanese version has a direct advertising parody involving the Islanders. There was no way to get around that segment for the serious monster movie John Beck wanted to make. The Chief is told the radio has "Two" transistors" making it a great value. Then, there's the selling to the islanders of the advantages of smoking cigarettes, even to the pre-teen boy.  

Another problem for Beck and his film editor Peter Zinner, is that most of the fight scenes between "Kong" and 'Godzilla" are set up like a Sumo Wrestling match. In fact, the two opponents appeared for interviews on a popular Tokyo Sports Television Program prior to the original Japanese films opening. Which resulted in slight changes being edited out of the original print.

However, the ending remains the same with one slight difference.

The original "Toho Studio" ending, has both "King Kong" and "Gojira/Godzilla" falling into the Sea of Japan, without the added "Mysterians" village Earthquake footage. Those on the hillside watch as "Kong" starts swimming back to "Faro Island". "Gojira/Godzilla" is not seen, but when the movie fades to black his roar is heard and the Japanese audience knew "Gojira" was back. 

When the English language version was originally released, by "Universal International", "Godzilla's" roar was not heard. This would lead to the idea that the battle was not a draw and, for the American audiences, "King Kong" beat "Godzilla". "Later, another English language print was released with the roar, after the picture goes to black, restored.

I can verify the story of the roar, because the weekend that the English language version opened in January 1963. Then, 16 years old Lloyd, saw both John Beck's version at the Majestic Theater in Santa Monica and the following day, the uncut "Toho" Japanese version, at the Toho La Brea in Los Angeles.

Another thing John Beck didn't expect had come from Willis O'Brien. Who, after seeing the Japanese "Kingu Kongu tai Gojira", filed a lawsuit against him.

Basically, O'Briens lawsuit was claiming that John Beck did not having the authorization to change his screenplay, or use the character of "King Kong". The lawsuit also named "Toho Productions" for not having the authorization to use the character of "King Kong" either. Willis O'Brien claimed he owned the rights to the character. 

After Willis "Obie" O'Brien's death from a heart attack, on November 8, 1962, his Estate continued the lawsuit. It was joined by the Estate of the creator of the "King Kong" and producer of the 1933 motion picture, Merian C. Cooper.

For those of my readers interested in the amazing life of the real "Carl Denham" and an American Spy for the "Office of Strategic Service (O.S.S.). My article, 'MERIAN C. COOPER: BEFORE 'KING KONG' TO 'CINERAMA" is available for your enjoyment at:


Ask anyone who sees a particular motion picture. They probably remember the leading actors and most can tell you the Director's name and several of their motion pictures. Rephrase the question, and ask who wrote the screenplay and there's a good chance you'll draw a blank.

I could not find most of the information, I would have liked, about the life of George Worthing Yates, but the already stated date and place of his birth. Plus, this "Vital Statistic", the date and place of his death, June 6, 1975, in the California Wine County of Sonoma.

RIP and Thank You for the enjoyment you've given me.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Gordon Douglas: The Little Rascals (Our Gang) - Giant Ants - and Francis Albert Sinatra

When asked to name a "Classic Film Director", depending upon how much you're into motion pictures, what's your favorite ge...