Before he took us on a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and let us go through "The Time Tunnel" to a "Towering Inferno". Producer, Director, and Writer, Irwin Allen, told us about his Dark Fantasy Science Fiction, "THE STORY OF MANKIND"!
Irwin O. Cohen was born on June 12, 1916, in New York City. Cohen first attended and graduated from "City College of New York", and afterwards, moved to "Columbia University". He majored in Journalism and Advertising, until "The Great Depression" caused him to drop out like many a young American, over financial difficulties, being unable to continue to pay his tuition.
With a change in name, Irwin Allen, arrived in Hollywood in 1938. Many websites agree that he went to work that year as the editor of the tourist magazine "Key Magazine". The one website that seems to disagree, is "Key Magazine's", because according to the magazine their first Los Angeles issue wasn't until sometime during the 1940's.
We can confirm from the website, "The Irwin Allen News Network", that in 1941, Allen became a publicist for some of the movie studios and was able to produce a radio program on Los Angeles station KMTR, that would become KLAC in 1946.
The Irwin Allen Show was a regular radio show produced and presented by Irwin Allen from the early 1940s to the early 1950s. In each show Irwin interviewed celebrities, went behind the scenes at movie productions, and discussed the arts. The show fitted in well with his media column in newspapers. The Irwin Allen Show (also sometimes referred to as Hollywood Merry-Go-Round) was broadcast at various times of the day (even midnight some weeks), and usually on a Sunday. It was initially broadcast on the station KMTR which was later (12 March 1946) sold and renamed to KLAC on 570 on the broadcasting dial.https://www.iann.net/irwinallenshow/
Allen's, "Hollywood Insider", newspaper column, was syndicated in 73-newspapers.
During those late 1940's, Irwin Allen logically become a "Talent Agent", as a result of both his radio program and newspaper column's interactions with would be celebrities and the motion picture studios.
In 1950, talent agent Allen, put together a package that consisted of a director, some of the actors, and a writer, and sold it to Howard Hughes, the owner of the motion picture studio that was founded by the "Radio-Keith-Orpheum-Corporation (RKO)".
The package became the film-noir, "Where Danger Lives", released on July 8, 1950. Irwin Allen received his first motion picture credit as "Associate Producer", under RKO's contract producer, Irving Cummings.
Allen followed "Where Danger Lives", as the uncredited "associate producer", on 1951's, "Double Dynamite", a musical comedy, starring Howard Hughes' current girlfriend, Jane Russell, Groucho Marx, and Frank Sinatra. Next, Irwin Allen was shown as the sole producer of a Groucho Mark comedy with William Bendix, 1952's, "A Girl in Every Port".
BEFORE there was either "THE SEAVIEW", or the "S.S. POSEIDON", Irwin Allen traveled under the oceans of the world.
RACHEL L. CARSON'S THE SEA AROUND US released on July 7, 1953
Rachel Louise Carson was an Aquatic Biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and a Conservationist, and Writer. Her 1962 book, "Silent Spring", became a bestseller about the dangers of pesticides, speaking to the aerial spraying of DDT on crops, that she said led to American deaths as a result of eating food from those same crops. Carson was able to get President John F. Kennedy's administration to realize that danger and stop the use of DDT. Her work would move into President Richard M. Nixon's administration and resulted in Nixon creating the "Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)".
Back in 1951, Rachel Carson published her second book, and the second part of what would become known as "The Sea Trilogy", the bestselling "The Sea Around Us". The book remained on the "New York Times Best Seller List" for 86-weeks.
The website, "Literary Ladies Guide", has a review of "The Sea Around Us", by Nava Atlas, dated August 20, 2022. https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/book-reviews/the-sea-around-us-by-rachel-carson-1951/
The Sea Around Us remains as fresh today as when it first appeared over six decades ago. Carson’s genius for evoking the power and primacy of the world’s bodies of water, combining the cosmic and the intimate, remains almost unmatched: the newly formed Earth cooling beneath an endlessly overcast sky …The seas sustain human life and imperil it.
Today, with the oceans endangered by the dumping of medical waste and ecological disasters such as the Exxon oil spill in Alaska, the gradual death of the Great Barrier Reef, and the melting of the polar ice caps,
Carson’s book provides a timely reminder of both the fragility and the centrality of the ocean and the life that abounds within it. Anyone who loves the sea, or who is concerned about our natural environment, will want to read, or re-read, this classic work.
Irwin Allen Produced, Directed, and Wrote the descriptive dialogue for his filmed documentary version of Carson's 1951 book, "The Sea Around Us".
Rachel Carson was hired by "RKO" as a consultant only on the choice of the film footage used by Allen. She had no input on his screenplay, or the direction he was going to use to tell her book's story.
In fact, Irwin Allen took Carson's focus on the ecosystems in the world's oceans and their potential impact on the future environment, which had made the book a best seller. Then, turned the focus around, to how valuable the sea is as a source of food for man.
Above, Irwin Allen and an unidentified assistant inspect film footage for the documentary.
At the "25th Academy Awards Ceremonies", March 19, 1953, Irwin Allen received the "Oscar for Best Documentary". Apparently, not one of the members of the Academy had read Carson's best seller, or if they did, missed Rachel Carson's poetic plea to save the oceans before they're gone that was completely lost by Allen.
Later, Rachel Carson was approached to sell the rights to her other works for motion picture documentaries, but refused over what Irwin Allen had done with "The Sea Around Us".
Irwin Allen next Produced for RKO, "Dangerous Mission", filmed in the Third-Dimension and starring Victor Mature, Piper Laurie, and William Bendix.
THE ANIMAL WORLD premiered in New York City, on May 30, 1956
This documentary was the first example of what I would call, Irwin Allen's "P.T. Barnum Showmanship" as a publicist to lure an audience into the movie theater, in my case, 9-years-old Lloyd going to the "Encino Theater", in Los Angeles County's San Fernando Valley.
The above poster, and the television and motion picture theatrical trailers for "The Animal World", focused on the approximately 8-minute-long dinosaur sequence, out of the 82-minute documentary about animal life. Irwin Allen gave his potential audience the feeling that the feature was not a documentary, but a dinosaur movie.
Allen assembled many filmed shots of insect, animal and marine life for his feature. He also, cleverly, let those nature photographers keep the rights to their own shot footage, cutting down the costs of production.
However, the end result was that "Warner Brothers" only owned the dinosaur footage. This became the reason the motion picture couldn't be seen, technically, after its first run. Otherwise, the studio would have to pay every one of those nature photographers for the re-use of their footage for each additional showing of "The Animal World", per their contracts with Irwin Allen.
I have a faded color copy of a 16mm print used in school science classes of the complete motion picture. Which was the only way the complete film could be seen after the initial run and get around the payment to the nature photographers.
As to the dinosaur footage, it was shot by stop-motion-animators, Ray Harryhausen and Willis O'Brien. Initially, to keep costs down, Irwin Allen wanted to use static dioramas of dinosaurs, but Ray Harryhausen "talked-him" into animating the prehistoric sequence.
The problem was that Allen would not pay for the quality stop-motion-animation that Willis "Obie" O'Brien had received his "Special Effects" Oscar for 1949's, "Mighty Joe Young". As a result, low-cost replacement animation was used. A process that causes a jerky look at times to the dinosaurs, because O'Brien and Harryhausen are just replacing models with another in a different position and repeating the process over and over. Rather than using articulate models with different body parts to get the smooth looking stop-motion of even 1925's "The Lost World". Below, Ray Harryhausen with one of the dinosaurs:
The following linked video, at the time of this writing, is from "The Animal World Fan Club" and is the remastered dinosaur sequence.
Back in May 1955, Irwin Allen announced he had acquired the rights to a popular children's book, "The Story of Mankind", by Hendrik van Loon. Allen added that he was starting pre-production on the possibility of turning the bestseller into his third documentary feature. However, he was still in production for his second documentary feature, "The Animal World", and that was taking up the majority of his time.
Two-months prior to the release of the "Animal World", in March 1956, Allen stated he had completed pre-production for the movie version of the book he spoke about the year before. Once more, for "Warner Brothers", Allen started to work on the new documentary's screenplay with Charles Bennett, stating the screenplay should be finished in June.
Charles Alfred Selwyn Bennett was an English playwright and screenplay writer. In 1928, Bennett wrote the play "Blackmail", and in 1929, director Alfred Hitchcock turned Bennett's play into a motion picture with a screenplay by the playwright. In 1934, Charles Bennett wrote Hitch's, "The Man Who Knew Too Much", followed by 1935's, "The 39 Steps", and in 1936, Bennett wrote both Alfred Hitchcock's "Secret Agent", and "Sabotage", while 1940, it was the screenplay for "Foreign Correspondent".
This screenplay would be the first of several by Charles Bennett for Irwin Allen including 1959's, "The Big Circus", the 1960 version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Lost World", 1961's, "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", and Irwin Allen's, 1962, version of Jules Verne's, "Five Weeks in a Balloon".
Allen and Bennett's planned screenplay was in the form of a travelogue using two actors, one male, one female, reappearing throughout time as a focal point for the audience. Jack L. Warner let it be known that a film-crew would accompany Irwin Allen to 18-countries to shoot "Warner Brothers" latest documentary feature film.
However, by the end of September 1956, only the screenplay had been completed, and production had yet to start.
Then, on October 17, 1956, Michael Todd's version of French author, Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days", premiered in Canada. Todd's blending of a travelogue with a scripted story, with leading actors, David Niven, the renowned Mexican comedian Cantinflas, Robert Newton, and Shirley MacLaine, would impact the plans of both Irwin Allen and Jack L. Warner.
Another factor that was bringing audiences in to see Michael Todd's motion picture, was his invention of the "Cameo Appearance", with major stars appearing for very brief moments on-screen. Three of Todd's examples are Ronald Coleman as a Railway Official, John Carradine on a Wild West train being attacked by Indians, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, also in a train scene, but going from Bombay to Calcutta.
The worldwide release and sold-out roadshow performances of "Around the World in 80 Days" didn't stop the movie publicist turned
producer Irwin Allen, and he came-up with a counter proposal for Jack L. Warner. His suggestion was to turn the present screenplay for their documentary, "The Story of Mankind", into an all-star film like Michael Todd's, and to start publicizing their as yet unmade film to play-off of the publicity "Around the World in 80 Days" was getting.
One-month after Todd's motion picture premiered, on November 18, 1956, the "Los Angeles Times" film critic, Philip K. Scheuer, published an article in his syndicated column, "A Town Called Hollywood", entitled, "Mankind' to Tour History of Humans in Three Hours". However, the final cut of Irwin Allen's motion picture would only run one-hour-and-forty-minutes.
THE STORY OF MANKIND was finally released on November 8, 1957
First published in 1921 and awarded the first ever Newbery Medal of 1922 for its contribution to children’s literature, “The Story of Mankind” follows the history of western civilization from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. Originally written for his children, Hendrik van Loon, a Dutch-American journalist and historian, both wrote and illustrated this classic for children to learn about world history in an entertaining way. From the very beginning of mankind, the development of writing and art, the rise of world religions, to the formation of nation-states and modern politics, van Loon emphasizes the people and events central to the monumental changes and achievements of human history. Beautiful and detailed, van Loon’s epic work has withstood the test of time with its lively illustrations and warm and accessible prose, making these famous figures and grand world events relatable and interesting to children of all ages. A remarkable, accurate, and enduring work, “The Story of Mankind” is a masterpiece of children’s literature and continues to engage and inspire young readers to this day.
Where we can't do justice to a time and place we won't just brush them off summarily. We just won't use them. There have been 400 or more giants of history in all our fields. Our big problem has been to bring them down to about 50, asking about each: was what he or she did lasting - and how long did it last? Telling history on the screen can be like telling a bad joke twice. You first have to find a handle, a gimmick.
Irwin Allen wanted to out due Michael Todd and while the new screenplay still focused upon two main characters, now revised into one being good, one being evil. Those two would now be supported by an additional forty-six characters, varying in speaking role size, and nine uncredited smaller roles.
Ronald Coleman portrayed "The Spirit of Man". This was Ronald Charles Coleman's 61st role and his final motion picture. British actor Ronald Coleman after recovering from injuries sustained during the First World War, started his acting career on June 19, 1916, on the London Stage. His first motion picture was a documentary, 1931's, "The House That Shadows Built", actually a publicity stunt by "Paramount Pictures" showing theater-goers the studios current actors and actresses. Over his career Coleman would star in 1926's, Beau Geste", 1929's, "Bulldog Drummond", director John Ford's 1931 version of author Sinclair Lewis' "Arrowsmith", 1935's, "Clive of India", co-starring Loretta Young and Colin Clive, the 1935 version of author Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities", director Frank Capra's classic version of the James Hilton novel, "Lost Horizon", co-starring Jane Wyatt, 1937's "The Prisoner of Zenda", co-starring Madeline Carroll, 1944's, "Kismet", co-starring Marlene Dietrich, and the 1950 comedy, "Champagne for Caesar", co-starring Celeste Holm and Vincent Price.
Vincent Price portrayed "Mr. Scratch-The Devil". Vincent Leonard Price, Jr's acting career started in 1935, on stage, in London, performing with Orson Welles' "Mercury Theatre". His second film role was that of "Sir Walter Raleigh", in the 1939, "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex", starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, and his next was as the "Duke of Clarence", in 1939's, "The Tower of London", starring Basil Rathbone. Vincent Price followed that feature with the title role in "Universal Pictures", "The Invisible Man Returns", he was pure understated evil as "Prosecutor Vital Dutor", in 1943's, "The Song of Bernadette", introducing actress Jennifer Jones in the starring role. Vincent had fun with two 3-D horror movies, 1953's, "House of Wax", and 1954's, "The Mad Magician", and the audience hated him as the slave driver, "Baka", in director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1956, "The Ten Commandments". Vincent Price would be seen in Irwin Allen's 1959 version of director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1952, "The Greatest Show on Earth", "The Big Circus".
Groucho Marx portrayed "Peter Minuit". Besides the 13-comedy-movies he made with his brothers, Julius Henry Marx is known for his radio program turned television show, "You Bet Your Life", from 1947 through 1961.
Peter Lorre's "Mr. Moto" is part of my article, "Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Warner Oland, Sidney Toler: "3" Famous Asian Literary Detectives Portrayed By Non-Asian Actors", found for sleuths, at:
Marie Windsor portrayed "Josephine Bonaparte". Emily Marie Bertelsen was known as a "femme fatale" in classic film-noirs such as John Garfield's, 1948, "Force of Evil", Charles McGraw's, 1952, "The Narrow Margin", and Sterling Hayden's, 1956, "The Killing", directed by the unknown Stanley Kubrick. However, to cult science fiction fans, Windsor will always be associated with the 1953, 3-D, "Cat-Women of the Moon". Not to forget 1955's, "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy", or director Roger Corman's, 1956, "Swamp Women".
Marie Wilson portrayed "Marie Antoinette". Katherine Elizabeth Wilson was a radio, film, and television actress. She is best remembered for portraying scatterbrained "Irma Peterson", first on the radio program, "My Friend Irma", April 11, 1947 through August 23, 1954. Next, in the 1949 motion picture, "My Friend Irma", and again in the 1950 movie, "My Friend Irma Goes West", along with the television series, "My Friend Irma", 1952 through 1954. Speak to type-casting!
Helmut Dantine portrayed "Marc Anthony". At 18-years-old, in 1938, Austrian born Helmut Guttman was rounded-up and interned in a Nazi Concentration Camp outside of Vienna. Using their influence, his parents were able to get their son out of the camp and flown to California. He started learning acting at the prestigious "Pasadena Playhouse", and was spotted by a talent-scout for "Warner Brothers". His first three roles were uncredited, but in 1942, he played a "German Flyer" in "Mrs. Miniver", starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. He continued to play German, or Dutch roles in 1942's, "Casablanca", 1943's, "Edge of Darkness", "Mission to Moscow", "Watch on the Rhine", and "Northern Pursuit". In 1944, Dantine joined Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and Sydney Greenstreet in director Michael Curtiz's, "Passage to Marseille".
Fans 1950's science fiction know Helmut Dantine as 1954's, "Stranger from Venus", co-starring Patricia Neal in a British rip-off of 1951's, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", that also co-starred Patricia Neal. In 1956, the actor portrayed "Nectenabus", in Richard Burton's "Alexander the Great", but his voice had to be dubbed by British actor Christopher Lee. Also, in 1956, 8th-billed, Helmut Dantine portrayed "Dolokov", in director King Vidor's epic version of Russian author Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace", that co-starred Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer.
Edward Everett Horton portrayed "Sir Walter Raleigh". Edward Everett Horton, Jr. made his first on-stage appearance in "Columbia University's 1909 Varsity Show". Thirteen-years-later, Horton first appeared and starred on-screen in the 1922 comedy, "Too Much Business". In 1928, he co-starred in the Edgar Wallace horror mystery, "The Terror", and would become a 1930's comedy star. Edward Everett Horton was "The Mad Hatter", in "Paramount Picture's", 1933, version of author Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland", with other of the author's characters being played by Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, W.C. Fields, and Sterling Holloway. Although a major exception to being type-cast in comedy, was director Frank Capra's, 1937, "Lost Horizon", starring Ronald Coleman.
Overview of he Irwin Allen and Charles Bennett Screenplay:
Two angels appear in the sky as stars and are discussing how man has invented the "Super H-Bomb" sixty-years before they should have created it. Noting that mankind will be destroyed if the bomb detonates, the angels report their discovery to the "High Tribunal of Outer Space". The "High Tribunal" realizes that when the "Celestial Clock" strikes eleven, the "Super H-Bomb" will go off.
Will the "High Tribunal" prevent the bomb from going off, or should they let the human race face their created fate? A decision to hold mankind on trial is agreed too.
The tribunal now calls for "The Spirit of Man" to defend the human race and "Mr. Scratch (The Devil)", who arrives with his apprentice devil, to prosecute the human race.
The "High Judge" of the tribunal instructs the defense and prosecutor that they may use any person from Earth's history to make their case. The witnesses had been assembled and the "Spirit of Man" starts his case by first showing how man developed from a solidary people to communities. That in communities he developed both fire, with its uses for warmth and cooking their food, and created the wheel and that inventions impact.
"The Spirit of Man" takes "Mr. Scratch" to ancient Greece to meet "Socrates", "Plato", and "Aristotle", sculptors, and early astronomers, that had taken man's thinking to a new level. He then introduces "Hippocrates", the father of modern medicine, whose oath is still given to doctors today and held inviolate by them.
"Mr. Scratch" doubles down starting with "Cleopatra", who killed her brother, manipulated "Julius Caesar", portrayed by Reginald Sheffield, and betrayed "Marc Anthony", before committing suicide to avoid being taken captive by "Augustus Caesar".
To which, "The Spirit of Man" counters with the discoveries of medicines and advances in science, mentioning "Sir Isaac Newton", the discover of gravity.
"Mr. Scratch" continues his argument about greed, by leaving Europe for America, and speaking to the land grabbing and gold fever that led to the Indian Wars, and the Civil War pitting brother against brother. "The Spirit of Man" argues that out of the American Civil War came "President Abraham Lincoln's", played by Austin Green, "Emancipation Proclamation".
"Mr. Scratch" directs the judges to look closely at the toys around the baby, a gun and a sword.
However, "The Spirit of Man" demonstrates that when fired, the gun plays music, and the sword opens, because it's a pencil box.
"The Spirit of Man" now brings out a Bible as an exhibit and reads:
FOR HIM THAT SOWETH RIGHTEOUS SHALL BE A SURE REWARD
and then rests his case.
The judges now go into deliberation and return with their verdict:
MAN'S GOOD IS EQUAL TO HIS EVIL
As such, they will reserve final judgement for a future date. The "High Judge" states that man's destruction has been postponed, BUT the "High Tribunal of Outer Space" will reconvene on that unspecified later date.
If I bored by reader going over the screenplay, that is considered a dark science fiction and fantasy tale, for Irwin Allen's first major all-star production, you are not alone. The motion picture is found in the Harry Medved and Randy Dreyfuss, 1978 book, "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way)".
In 1957, Irwin Allen approached Jack L. Warner about a circus movie, but Warner would not back the venture after the financial loss and negative reviews to the studio from "The Story of Mankind". Allen next went to "Columbia Pictures", they wouldn't back it, but "Allied Artists" agreed.
"The Big Circus", that wouldn't be released until July 5, 1959, was an obvious imitation of Cecil B. DeMille's 1952, "The Greatest Show On Earth" and was publicized with having a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. When it came to that critical scene, Gilbert Rolland as "Zach Colino" did the walk superimposed on scenes of the falls.