They Fought In The Creature Features by Tom Weaver (book review).

October 21, 2014 | By | Reply More

‘They Fought In The Creature Features’ gets off to a great start with an interview with Julie Adams and about a certain Gill-Man from the Black Lagoon. Although it was amongst five films she was in the year, it is the one that she is most remembered for. As with all of these books, Tom Weaver endeavours to let those he interviews to tell about their careers so you get insight into how the 1950s Hollywood ran for contract actors which always makes for fascinating reading. ‘The Revenge Of The Creature’ is briefly covered in John Agar’s interview but it is one amongst many films that he starred in. In far, this continues with interviews with Richard Denning and Lori Nelson getting a representation from all three Gill-Man films in a single book.

TheyFoughtInCreatureFeatures

Richard Anderson’s interview was of special interest to me after a reference made in the extras in ‘The Bionic Woman’ DVD boxset about how much of the history of films he was associated with and you get a mix of his filmwork in ‘Forbidden Planet’ to the assorted TV series he appeared in. He’s not the only one from ‘Forbidden Planet’ here with Anne Francis also relating her time there and other films. For ‘Forbidden Planet’, it’s her relating the story about the actor inside Robbie getting fired for getting drunk and a definite laugh at the end about the fan postcard she received. Likewise George Wallace also gives his account as one of the crew, pointing out a similar story of the actor inside Robbie the Robot getting drunk and being fired but neither he nor Anderson say who his replacement was. Presumably, he stayed sober.

The contrast between interviews with Mark Goddard and June Lockwood over their time ‘Lost In Space’ must surely belong to their ages and time acting. If you’re not on the set, it seems knitting is the best option.

Another pairing here is interviews with key cast from ‘This Island Earth’ with Jeff Morrow and Rex Reason. Morrow points out the problem of filming his white wig as Exeter in that it tended to come out a little too white and over the film, various things were done to give it a bit more texture. If you ever thought your TV was misfocused watching the film, you can now rest easy. It’s also interesting that Exeter was supposed to be more of a heavy and by Morrow siding unknowingly with the scriptwriter ensured he was more the scientist seeking help than a villain.

The interview with William Schallert was very revealing, especially as his film career started in 1947. Considering how many SF films he’s been in over the years, Schallert admits he isn’t an SF movie fan but does enjoy SF books. I like his comments about his final scene in ‘Colossus: The Forbin Project’ in that while everyone else was panicking, he sat back and lit his cigar, knowing there was nowhere to run and was assassinated by an h-bomb.

Reading director Don Taylor’s interview pointed out that he had also been an actor and the difficulties he had to get behind the camera to direct compared to how easy it is today. It did make me ponder on the demarcation between the two roles and how far we’ve come today when people are allowed to do both. Oh, his insight into ‘Escape From The Planet Of The Apes’ and ‘The Final Countdown’ was interesting even if I’m not entirely sure what he meant by the latter not having an ending when I thought it had two, the safe return of the Nimitz and Lasky’s meeting with a certain Mr. Tideman.

The final interview is with actress Jane Wyatt who sees her ‘Star Trek’ appearances as footnotes in her long career and throws more light on her part in the first ‘Lost Horizon’.

With so many of these people no longer around, Tom Weaver’s interview books are probably the only way we’re going to get accounts of the time period and if you’re a fan of the 1940s-50s movies then they add a depth that you’re not going to get anywhere else. There is so much information in this book than the comments I’ve made above are touching on only a little of what you will learn here. Always a joy to read and cherish.

GF Willmetts

October 2014

(pub: McFarland. 384 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: £19.95 (UK), $23.75 (US). ISBN: 978-0-78649-575-0)

check out websites: www.mcfarlandpub.com and www.eurospanbookstore.com

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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