Crack in the World, Opened April 15, 1965: Enhanced Question-Mark?

crackintheworld

 

A Crack In The World was the first movie that scared me; it was everything that a nerdy young boy could want in a Sci-Fi film: action, destruction, mayhem, science, (did I mention destruction), and intelligent heroes. In CITW the villains are not so much malevolent as they are stubborn, self-interested, egotists, ready to take any risk to prove their theories. So today I really do celebrate the anniversary of the grand-opening (pardon the pun) of the Crack In The World, for not only is it a fine exploration of how our unbridled pursuits can bring devastation to our lives, it appears a prognostication credible, its fiction believable, raising the Scare-O-Meter considerably; this internal Meter is what every youngster (of heart or years) uses to rate the movies they watch, and feel are worthy of their allowance. Howard Thompson of the New York Times said “‘Crack’ is the choice one—the best science-fiction thriller this year,” and I will leave it with Mr. Thompson’s words and join my encouragement with his when he said: “the whole thing is intelligent, compact and tingling. Good show. Go.” A Crack In The World is available on Blu-Ray and at a reasonable price to boot.

Location, Location, Location:

Principal filming began in June of 1964 with the Valencia coast and central Spain, providing the backdrop for this ultimate disaster movie. An isolated area in the Guadarrama Mountains (about forty miles northwest of Madrid) proved an excellent place to stand in for a region desolated by the story’s underground nuclear testing.[1] While director Andrew Marton was readied to roll the cameras from above, via helicopter, a group of around fifty cowboys on horseback rode over the ridge coming into camera view; the cowboys were part of a film crew making a TV western. Marton ran them off by swooping low over the group knowing the copter would drown out their sound track. One incident was not quite so comical as the cowboys’ escapade, while filming a train scene of refugees escaping the holocaust triggered by the Crack In The World nuclear explosion, sparks from the locomotive flue, set off flames that roared through the dry countryside of Spain; the stars, some two-hundred extras and technicians, worked the better part of three hours tramping out the brush fire. The blaze threatened a nearby oak forest and a small village; no casualties were reported, but members of the, Crack In The World, company made their return to Madrid with blackened faces, some minor burns and singed arms.[2] Filming wrapped by the end of July, 1964; by the way, CITW was purported to be the first science-fiction picture produced in Spain .[3]

The Accepted Premiere Date is Not All That It is “Cracked Up To Be:”

Time is a funny thing; with each passing year the memory seems to grow less reliable. And so it is with our collective memory of the premieres and national-openings of films. So it goes with a Crack In The World. Popular urban legend has fooled us all into believing that it opened on April 15, 1965 or was it May 12? TCM has the premiere in Los Angeles, on February 24, 1965; this opening was across the LA area, so reported, local papers.[4] Other cities unrelated to the Los Angeles vicinity debuted the movie on Wednesday the 24th and Thursday, the 25th  of February.

Pasadena Independent, Pasadena, California, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Pasadena Independent, Pasadena, California, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

San Bernardino County Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

San Bernardino County Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wednesday, February 24, 1965

Corpus Christi Caller Times, Corpus Christi, Texas, Thusday, February 25, 1965

Corpus Christi Caller Times, Corpus Christi, Texas, Thusday, February 25, 1965

 

Yet, the fourth Wednesday of February was not the official opening day for, CITW, the film started unceremoniously the week prior, in of all places, Freeport, Texas (sixty miles southwest of Huston, on the Gulf), and Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, February 17; San Antonio, Texas, saw the film the following day on February 18. This Valentine’s month release schedule is confirmed by Boxoffice Magazine in their February 15, 1965, edition.

Brazosport Facts, Freeport, Texas, Wednesday, February 17, 1965

Brazosport Facts, Freeport, Texas, Wednesday, February 17, 1965

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, February 17, 1965

Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Wednesday, February 17, 1965

San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, February 18, 1965

San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, Thursday, February 18, 1965

 

Casting: Chuck Heston Instead of Dana Andrews?

When executive producer Phil Yordan began writing the screenplay (which he receives no credit for his early contribution) it was an update of Dante’s Inferno, with Charlton Heston set to star; that was in the first week of April, 1964. What a difference time makes; just two months later, cast and crew were in Spain starting to shoot the sci-fi flick with Dana Andrews, sans Heston.[5]

The Crack Heard Round the World: Music

In August of 1964 Johnny Douglas accepted the job of scoring, CITW, after seeing a rough-cut of the film in Madrid; he was also contracted to direct the orchestra for the recording. Douglas had only recently (Touch of Death, 1961, was his first film offering) begun work in the movies[6] and was most well-known for his “Living Strings” series, including Music Of The Sea (which sold more than 200,000 copies), The Spirit of Christmas, On Broadway, and, Romance With The Classics, This chain of albums were easy-listening, often heard in elevators. Here is a snippet of the dooms-day music for a: Crack In The World.

Here are some of the, disaster filled, edge of your seat, Crack In The World, posters and lobby cards:

crack

crack

crack21422_3cracking

21422_5 21422_2

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) July 3, 1964

Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964

[2] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) June 28, 1964

Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964

[3] Evening Standard (Uniontown, Pennsylvania) July 9, 1964

Irving Daily News Texan (Irving, Texas) July 30, 1964

[4] Independent Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California) February 21, 1965

Valley News (Van Nuys, California) February 25, 1965

[5] Pasadena Independent (Pasadena, California) April 6, 1964

[6] Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (Colorado Springs, Colorado) August 29, 1964

 

 

Advertisements

The Curse of the Cat People, Happy Anniversary! March 2

 

The Curse of the Cat People

An RKO Tradeshow was seen in every major market in United States on February 16, 1944, at 10:30 am, with the exceptions of: Cincinnati was shown at 8:15 pm, New York saw the flick at 11:00 am and St. Louis had an 11:30 am viewing on February 17.[1] Although officially ready for, Thursday, March 2, 1944 showings, the film did not darken the silver-screen until that weekend. The Curse of the Cat People opened at the Rialto, in New York on Friday, March 3.[2] The sequel to Cat People was to begin at the Rialto on Friday, February 25, 1944, as an exclusive premiere, but because Calling Dr. Death was doing so well, management decided to hold that feature over an additional week.[3] New York Post film critic, Archer Winston, gave Curse a Fair to Good rating.[4] Bosley Crowther wrote an almost positive critique, with his biggest complaint being that the film had some of the “claptrap from that ‘Cat People’ film.”[5]

The Curse of the Cat People was a sequel to Cat People, which was released in 1942. Curse was directed by Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise (his first credited work as director, he shot some additional scenes for The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942), written by DeWitt Bodeen, producer Val Lewton, Nicholas Musuraca was the director of photography, film editing by J.R. Whittredge, set decorations handled by Darrell Silvera and William Stevens, while Albert S. D’Agostino and Walter E. Keller took care of the art direction, Edward Stevenson designed the gowns, Roy Webb composed the score. Simone Simon reprised her role as Irena (ghost of) with Kent Smith, Jane Randolph as the Reeds and little Ann Carter stealing the film as Amy Reed. Can anybody say “Atmosphere?” That is what this film delivers on, scene after scene. The Curse of the Cat People is available on DVD as a double feature with Cat People.

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People

 

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People_2901

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People

 

Side note:

Because of budget constraints Curse used sets that had been built for the The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942.

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] Film Daily, January 28, 1944

[2] Film Daily, February 28, 1944

[3] Motion Picture Daily, February 29, 1944

[4] New York Post (New York, New York) March 4, 1944

[5] New York Times (New York, New York) March 4, 1944

She-Wolf of London, Happy Anniversary! Premiered Friday (Friday, April 5, 1946), May 17, 1946

she-wolf-of-london-poster-01 She Wolf of London 3She Wolf Of London 2

 

It is clear that She-Wolf of London did not premier on May 17, 1946, but saw it’s opening on Friday, April 5, 1946 at the Rialto Theater, in New York.[1] I know, with that information I should not continue this anniversary-post, or at the least, hold it over until, April of 2015. But, I cannot refrain myself, for this is another of my secret, delectable, (not necessarily great for everyone else) tidbits of the Universal horror factory. One more example of the black & white superior-atmosphere and the usual quotient of thrills and chills. With that said, this little-bit of eeriness was not granted much from the ‘higher-ups’ at Universal, nor did the local theater management allocate much additional funding for advertising; most often She-Wolf played in a double-feature, and then more frequently as the second-banana. What few reviews were written were tepid or dismissive in nature.

Jean Yarbrough (lots of B-movies, and much television) had the honors of sitting in the director’s chair for this thriller; George Bricker wrote the screenplay from a story by Dwight V. Babcock. Bricker and Babcock often worked together in the 1940’s, including: House of Dracula, 1945, Pillow of Death, 1945, House of Horrors, 1946, The Brute Man, 1946, and The Corpse Came C.O.D., 1947. Both men are mentioned several times in Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946.[2]

The cinematography for She-Wolf was in the capable hands of Maury Gertsman, who breathed life into two of the Basil Rathbone’ Sherlock Holmes series entries: Terror by Night and Dressed to Kill, each made in 1946; Gertsman was a B-movie-land denizen, which could be said of most of those involved in the making of this film. She-Wolf starred Don Porter and June Lockhart. She-Wolf of London can be found on DVD on the back-end of a double-bill (as it was in first run so it is in home-release).

 

She Wolf of London June Lockhart She Wolf of London Don Porter

She Wolf of London The_Anniston_Star_ Anniston, Alabama Sun__Aug_18__1946_ She Wolf of London The_Daily_Times_News_ Burlington, North Carolina Sat__Jul_20__1946_ She Wolf of London The_Ottawa_Journal_Tue__ Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Aug_27__1946_She Wolf of London Tucson_Daily_Citizen_ Tucson, ArizonaThu__Aug_1__1946_She Wolf of London The_Ludington_Daily_News_ Ludington, Michigan Thu__Aug_1__1946_

 

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

[1] New York Times, (New York, New York) Saturday, April 6, 1946 / The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Tuesday, April 9, 1946

[2] Universal Horrors: The Studio’s Classic Films 1931-1946, 2d ed. by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas, published by McFarland in 2007.

Crack in the World, Happy Anniversary! Premiered April 15, 1965.

crackcrackintheworld crack+roof+lc crack21422_3 cracking

A Crack in the World was the first movie that scared me; it was everything that a nerdy young boy could want in a Sci-Fi film: action, destruction, mayhem, science, (did I mention destruction), and intelligent heroes. In CITW the villains are not so much malevolent as they are stubborn, self-interested, egotists, ready to take any risk to prove their theories. So today I really do celebrate the anniversary of the grand-opening (pardon the pun) of the Crack in the World, for not only is it a fine exploration of how our unbridled pursuits can bring devastation to our lives, it appears a prognostication credible, its fiction believable, raising the Scare-O-Meter considerably; this internal Meter is what every youngster (of heart or years) uses to rate the movies they watch, and feel are worthy of their allowance. Howard Thompson of the New York Times said “‘Crack’ is the choice one—the best science-fiction thriller this year,” and I will leave it with Mr. Thompson’s words and join my encouragement with his when he said: “the whole thing is intelligent, compact and tingling. Good show. Go.” A Crack in the World is available on Blu-Ray and at a reasonable price to boot.

 

By C. S. Williams

The Curse of the Cat People, Happy Anniversary! Premiered in New York City, Thursday, March 2, 1944

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People

The Curse of the Cat People was a sequel to Cat People, which was released in 1942. Curse was directed by Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise (his first credited work as director, he shot some additional scenes for The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942), written by DeWitt Bodeen, producer Val Lewton, Nicholas Musuraca was the director of photography, film editing by J.R. Whittredge, set decorations handled by Darrell Silvera and William Stevens, while Albert S. D’Agostino and Walter E. Keller took care of the art direction, Edward Stevenson designed the gowns, Roy Webb composed the score. Simone Simon reprised her role as Irena (ghost of) with Kent Smith, Jane Randolph as the Reeds and little Ann Carter stealing the film as Amy Reed. Can anybody say “Atmosphere?” That is what this film delivers on, scene after scene. The Curse of the Cat People is available on DVD as a double feature with Cat People.

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People The Curse of the Cat People_2901

The Curse of the Cat PeopleThe Curse of the Cat People

Side note:

Because of budget constraints Curse used sets that had been built for the The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942.

By C. S. Williams