Sunday, 10 January 2010

British Science Fiction Movie Posters of the 1950s and early 1960s Part IV

Another Wyndham adaptation, The Day Of The Triffids, appeared in 1962. Directed by Steve Sekely, it starred Howard Keel in the central role of Bill Masen to capture the international (that is, American) audience; another pivotal role was given to Kieron Moore, a minor international star and one famous in this genre for his role in The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951); former child star Janette Scott (daughter of Thora Hird and future wife of Mel Tormé) played Moore’s wife.Janette Scott in classic female victim pose

The script is credited to Philip Yordan, but he was ctong as a front for Bernard Gordon, who had fallen foul of the House Un-American Activities Committee in America. His friendship with writer/entrepreneur Yordan led to regular work as a writer and producer in Madrid for the Samuel Bronston company; however, he was initially denied any acknowledgement for his work, Yordan crediting himself as sole author of films like Circus World (1964), Battle of the Bulge (1965) and The Day of the Triffids.

Though the film garnered some decent reviews, most were critical of the fact it didn’t stick closely to its source material, particularly the cop-out death-by-seawater ending, which, ironically, along with the meteor shower at the start, is the one thing that sticks in my mind!

It is widely believed that cinematographer and director Freddie Francis, famed for his work on Room at the Top (1959), Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1960) and The Innocents (1961), one of the best horror movies, stepped in and directed the lighthouse-set climax of the movie.
Belgian poster

Eugene Lourié’s Behemoth, The Sea Monster (1959) is an American-British co-production and an unacknowledged remake of Ray Bradbury's The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), also co-scripted and directed by Lourié. In the was called The Giant Behemoth; Gene Evans, a supporting actor in many Hollywood movies (notably several directed by Sam Fuller) and television shows, is the American ‘star’.

A large, radioactive Brachiosaurus is swimming off the coast of Cornwall, leaving countless radioactive dead fish. The monster does more damage by accident than by brute force, burning hapless citizens with its radiation; the original idea was more subtle: to have an unknown, shapeless radioactive being that left people dead in its wake, but the producers wanted to take a more sensational angle and the dinosaur monster was created.

The military decide to use a mini-submarine capable of firing a torpedo with enough radioactivity in its warhead to "overdose" the behemoth and kill it. An American scientist and a young Cornish fisherman pilot the sub and kill the behemoth, but the film ends ominously with reports of radioactive fish washed up off the coast of Florida.

The stop-motion animation in the film was supervised by Special Effects master Willis O'Brien, who had worked on many films, including King Kong (1933) and his assistant Pete Peterson. This was one of the the last films to showcase O’Brien’s work.
The German poster made a surprising link in its title!

Lourié also directed Gorgo, a 1961 British variation on Godzilla (1954; American version released in 1955) and the aforementioned King Kong.

It tells the story of a 65 feet tall underwater dinosaur, woken by the eruption of a submerged vocano, is captured off the coast of Ireland near the island of Nara and taken to London as a circus attraction.

Scientists examine Gorgo, think he is not an adult specimen and hypothesise that his mother must be about 200 feet tall. Sure enough, back in Ireland, Ogra, Gorgo’s mother, lays waste to the naval base at Nara then heads to London, detroying Tower Bridge and Big Ben before rescuing her son and heading back to sea.William Sylvster, an American actor who had been living in Britain since the war, provided the link for the American audiences as salvager Sam Slade, one of the men who discover Gorgo. His captain, Joe Ryan, is played by Newcastle-born Bill Travers, later famous for his role as George Adamson in Born Free (1966) and his work to highlight the suffering of animals in zoos throughout Europe. His older sister, Houghton-Le-Spring-born Linden Travers, attended La Sagesse School in Newcastle before going on to an acting career of countless supporting roles, including that of Mrs. Todhunter in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938), before retiring after her second marriage in 1948. Brother Peter Travers ran a garage in Shieldfield.

1 comment:

  1. love day of the triffids. it remains an influential film--and it seems to be refrenced in many endoftheworld flicks such as dawn of the dead, 28 days later, and children of men.