Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 80: A new edition of 'Married Too Young' (1962)

Artwork from the new DVD release of Married Too Young.
      
The new DVD release.
Married Too Young (1962) has long been one of the more neglected titles in Ed Wood's filmography, especially among his early, pre-porn movies. And, to be fair, it's not difficult to see why. Wood didn't actually direct the film, for example. That duty was performed by Ukrainian journeyman George Moskov. Ed doesn't receive screen credit for coauthoring the script either. Nathaniel  Tanchuck is the film's only official screenwriter, as confirmed by his daughter Heather. Some Wood fans may doubt that their hapless hero had anything to do with this production, even though Married Too Young is duly covered in Rob Craig's Ed Wood, Mad Genius (2009) and Andrew Rausch and Charles Pratt's The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (2015).

Back in 2014, I gave the film an exhaustive 4,800-word review, calling it "lugubrious" and "sluggish." I guess I wasn't much of a fan at the time. Maybe I was just disgruntled about overpaying for a grainy bootleg from The Video Beat. I already did a rundown of the film's plot and characters in that article, so if you have never seen Married Too Young, I suggest you start there instead of here.

Filmmaker Fred Olen Ray, who attempted to work with Ed Wood very late in the doomed director's life, obviously wants to bring new attention to Married Too Young and elevate this overlooked film to its rightful place in the Wood canon, alongside Plan 9 and Glen or Glenda. His company, Retromedia, has just issued a splashy new DVD release of Married Too Young, paired with The Violent Years on a disc called The Forgotten Ed Wood. In addition to a "23.98 progressive scan" of a widescreen 35mm print of the film, it also contains: trailers for both Married Too Young and The Sinister Urge; a complete copy of The Violent Years; and a pair of extremely brief but informative featurettes, "A Tale of Two Endings" and "Ed Wood and Married Too Young." (I'm guessing Ray himself narrates the former.)

This is a disc long in the making. Fred Olen Ray has been promising a Retromedia edition of Married Too Young since at least 2014, and there were supposedly plans for an official release of this film back in the 1990s, in the wake of Tim Burton's Ed Wood. But now, it's easily available on Amazon for a mere $9.66. If you're an Ed Wood fan with $10 burning a hole in your pocket, you could do worse.

Let's talk about those special features first. "Ed Wood and Married Too Young" lasts 30 seconds and consists of a letter dated August 25, 1994 from Dale Gasteiger of Headliner Entertainment Group to Greg Luce of Sinister Cinema. Gasteiger says that he and Roy Reid bought Ed Wood in "to finish writing [Married Too Young] for us." He contends that Wood's "contribution probably amounted to roughly 25% of the finished script." In their book, Rausch and Pratt quote Fred Olen Ray as saying he has even more documentation of Wood's authorship.

A letter from Dale Gasteiger concerning Ed Wood.

As for "A Tale of Two Endings," it's even more interesting. Previous to this, I had no idea there were alternate endings for Married Too Young. The narrator of the featurette explains:
"In the original 35mm cut negative of the movie, Tommy and his girlfriend go over the cliff in a stock shot. As you can see, the car turns over and shows its underside and then explodes. And it goes directly to the courtroom scene, where I'm sure everyone was amazed to find out that Tommy only hurt his arm and his girlfriend didn't get a scratch. Maybe because of TV or some complaints, later, another sequence was put in with a different stock shot. 
This time, the car does not flip over. It goes straight down, and it fades out before you can see it, and it's followed by a series of newspapers coming off of the presses explaining that somehow or another Tommy and actress Jana Lund somehow miraculously weren't killed in this crash. I'm not exactly sure why they did this, but I suspect it may have been for a television sale where they thought that perhaps there was no way that those kids could've lived through that and that people watching the movie would be upset and then incredibly surprised."
In terms of picture quality, this DVD is a major improvement from the previous edition. To illustrate that, I'll give you a few selected images from the Retromedia disc, and I'll intersperse those with corresponding screen grabs from the previous Video Beat version that I purchased in 2014.

Here's a moment from the opening race, for instance. In the new DVD, you lose a little visual information at the top and bottom of the screen, like the ankles of the actors in the front row, but you gain some ground on the left and right sides. And details are much clearer now, too. Note, for instance, the girl in the plaid dress at the left side of the frame. Can you even tell her outfit is plaid in the second picture? The facial expressions of the spectators are distinct in the Retromedia version but not in the Video Beat version.



Here are the main characters, Tommy and Helen, on a date. This gives you an idea of what the film's night scenes are like. Notice the fanciful details on Helen's sweater. You can even make out Harold Lloyd, Jr.'s individual front teeth.



For contrast, here's an indoor scene involving Helen and her parents. The Retromedia version offers far greater detail: the clock, the father's jacket, the purse, etc. You can see there is extra visual information on the left and right sides of the screen as well. Check out the banister behind the father for an example. But the grainy Video Beat version has some extra headroom and legroom. Look at the gap between the purse and the bottom of the frame.



Finally, I'd like to show a moment from the dream sequence, since this is the part of the movie that so impressed author Rob Craig and is the most blatantly Wood-ian in tone. With its layering of images, this might be the scene that benefits the most from a crisp transfer.



There is at least one more significant difference between these two versions. In the Video Beat DVD, the opening credits declare that the film was "produced by Headliner Productions." That's it. No human producer is listed, just the company. In the Retromedia DVD, the credits say that Married Too Young was "produced by Nathaniel Tanchuck." Both versions credit Nat Tanchuck with the story and screenplay. So, while my bootleg copy of the film has largely been supplanted by this new disc, the Video Beat edition is not exactly obsolete.

It remains to be seen whether Retrovision's Forgotten Ed Wood disc will revive interest in Married Too Young. I certainly haven't seen much publicity for this release yet. I only found it by accident while searching for other Ed Wood releases on Amazon. The cleaner, sharper transfer certainly makes the movie more enjoyable to watch, and the letter from Headliner Entertainment should satisfy those who have questioned the film's authenticity.

But, still, I can't imagine this turgid, preachy movie ever becoming another cult classic on the order of Glen or Glenda or Plan 9 from Outer Space, and it lacks the inspired lunacy of such Wood-written films as Bride and the Beast and Orgy of the Dead. Those looking for an Ed Wood "youth in crisis" movie will probably gravitate to The Violent Years or The Sinister Urge instead. Ultimately, this is one for the completists out there. If that's you, this DVD is ready when you are.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Odyssey, Part 18 by Greg Dziawer

Things are getting dirty this week.

This series has previously ventured into unsavory territory, discussing Ed Wood's possible involvement writing for pornographic Swedish Erotica magazines in the latter half of the 1970s. This week, it's time to analyze another clipping from such a publication.

Rather than repeating the gory details about this final, sordid phase of Eddie's career, let's allow this text—which accompanied a photo feature in Swedish Erotica Film Review Magazine #2, circa 1977—to do all the talking.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Odyssey, Part 11 by Greg Dziawer

Who's that portraying a Mexican jailer in a '70s porn loop? You know who.

Ed in a sombrero.
Rudolph Grey's 1992 book Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.  alerted the world to Eddie's participation in a 1970s pornographic loop in which he played a Mexican jailer, complete with "a dildo and a big sombrero." That intriguing film, identified by Grey only as The Jailer, seemed to have been lost to time. But readers of this column will remember that I screened and reviewed a copy of the obscure loop under the title Prisoners Lovemaking (aka Prisoner Love Making) back in August of 2017. The video was blurry and black-and-white, but it was an important part of Ed Wood history nevertheless.

If you'd asked me, even a week ago, if an original, full-color 16mm master of Prisoners Lovemaking would ever show up, I would likely have waived my hand at you and scoffed. Not that I am an asshole by nature, but such an event would have seemed immensely unlikely to me.

But then, last Friday night after work, I sat down at my computer, cracked open a beer, and relaxed. No sooner was my butt warm than I went to one of my favorite places, a private Ed Wood forum on Facebook, and saw that a miracle had occurred earlier that afternoon. A new member to the group, a movie fan and collector from Oregon, announced that he'd come into possession of a high-quality 16mm print of Prisoners Lovemaking. But how?

This collector graciously allowed me to share his incredible story here:
I bought this years ago for $1. I watched it once, set it on a shelf, and didn't make the Ed Wood connection until reading a piece by Will Sloan a few months back. Even then, I thought it was such a long shot that I didn't take the film out and give it another look until today. It's fate, I tells ya!

I'd actually already read your article today and loved it. I was a wee bit sad to find that the film had [already] surfaced online, but I felt better when I saw the other print. The copy I have is 16mm, in color and super-crisp. It looks great.

I bought this with a bunch of other films and was really looking more for more tame burlesque things, cheesecake reels, etc. I'd always wondered about the very remote possibility that Ed Wood might have been involved in some of these things, mainly because I believe one of them was put out by [Ed Wood's employer] Pendulum. It was set on an airplane, if I remember correctly. Mainly, I'm blown away by the weirdness of this happening. I mean, this thing had to be found by someone who had some interest in Ed Wood, had to live in Portland, had to have read articles by folks like you, etc., etc. The stars lined up or something.

I live in Portland, OR where we've always had our fair share of strip joints and adult bookstores. The place where I found this has since been demolished, but for most of my time in Portland, there was an especially terrifying porn shop downtown called Cindy's—The Adult Bookstore. So, years ago, maybe in the late '90s or early 2000s, I began to wonder if there was any chance that a store such as Cindy's would have any of its old 8mm stag films lying around. It didn't seem likely, but I was buying/selling a lot on Ebay at the time, and I was up for finding any type of collectible. 
The infamous Cindy's, once a landmark in Portland.
Also, I had bought a few 8mm films from an older gentleman who used to show up at antique shows in town. I'd picked up some older cheesecake/burlesque films from him: one by Russ Meyer, a Bettie Page film. Good stuff at amazing prices. So I knew that some of this stuff was out there.

So I convinced a friend to go with me to Cindy's but really expected nothing more than a sketchy experience. We walked in one night to find a crummy, low-rent joint with a grubby floor, too much light, and a scary biker-type guy working the counter. It smelled like Pine-Sol. Completely old school. But to my absolute amazement, sitting on the racks among the modern sex mags and DVDs were rows and rows of 8mm and Super 8 films. And they were priced at $1 each. 
A familiar smell.
I tried to play it cool and not come off as too excited, and I asked the scary biker guy if they were really a dollar each. He said they were. This was mostly your basic stuff—plenty of Swedish Erotica and lesser-known series. The biker guy was actually friendly enough, and when I asked him if they had any more, he said, "We got boxes of 'em in the back. You can look if you want." So why not? If you're invited to go to the back room of a terrifying porn shop, you can't really say no.

He took me and my pal to the back room where there were indeed boxes of old films. I began to go through them and spent maybe 10 minutes digging through and choosing things that looked interesting. I snapped up any burlesque stuff I found—not much—but really grabbed anything that looked interesting or collectible. The cheaply packaged films in white boxes with just a color photo glued onto the front. Super 8 films with sound. One from Pendulum specifically because I knew of the Ed Wood connection. There were just a few 16mm films, so I grabbed some of those, too.

So I took home my big box of films and began screening them, one by one. Nothing against the full-on porn stuff, but I was a little uncomfortable selling it on Ebay. I did sell quite a few of these things, but I just stashed several away and figured I'd sell them or toss them eventually. But one film that stood out just a little was the one set in a prison with a jailer wearing a very tall sombrero. I thought about selling it but just never got around to it, honestly. It sat in a box for years.

Then, just a few months ago, I was reading a little about Ed Wood online. I'd always wondered if he'd directed the Pendulum film I'd found. I didn't find any reference to that, but I did learn how involved he'd been with Swedish Erotica. I'd probably owned and sold films he made without even knowing it. But the bit I read that really caught my attention had to do with a lost film in which Ed played a Mexican jailer. I wondered if there was any chance that it could be the film I had, but considered it an extreme long shot. I figured I'd give it a look at some point, but it was months before I even bothered to take it out and screen it.

So that's the story! As I mentioned before, it's a miracle that this thing didn't end up in a dumpster by the early '80s, and I have no idea why it made its way to an adult bookstore in Portland. I'd bet that companies that made these films just didn't know what to do with their masters after a while other than to sell them off or throw them away.

I did go back to Cindy's a few times, so I made a fairly good haul. But the majority of the films I found were really just the sleazy version of white elephants. There are plenty to go around for collectors, and there seem to be very few of any real historical or monetary value. I knew that some of these were good finds but that most weren't. I also wasn't keen on having boxes of this stuff sitting around my house. And honestly, I did feel a bit unclean about going into Cindy's. Even by scuzzy old porn store standards, it was a scary hellhole of a place.

One of the last times I went there, the terrifying biker guy behind the counter informed me that someone had died there that day—some junkie shooting up in one of the booths. Note that I said it was "one of the last times." A really good find keeps you coming back well beyond the point of reason.
Quite a saga, don't you agree?

Interestingly, this rare loop is extant in two versions, both sourced from 8mm. One is in color, the opening loop in a VHS compilation from 1985, a treasure-trove of Cinema Classics loops very likely directed by Ed Wood. The other was drained of color, almost sepia-toned, and likely from a B&W source, also on a VHS-era comp. The loops were commonly sold in both color—fifty bucks, no drop in the bucket in the early '70s—and a more affordable B&W version. They were originally shot in color 16mm.

The discovery of this 16mm master of Prisoners Lovemaking promises to shine a new light on Woodology, and I'm confident my new friend from Oregon will diligently shepherd the film into accessibility at the highest quality by today's standards. The color and detail we'll see will finally and firmly ensconce Ed Wood in the world of early '70s West Coast porn loops, more vividly than I ever imagined.

Next: We'll delve into the VHS compilations in which Prisoners Lovemaking previously appeared and detail the Pendulum magazine photo feature with text accompaniment by Ed Wood that ran concurrent to the loop's original release. Yes, you read that right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Woodologist Odyssey, Part 2 by Greg Dziawer

Buried under that film is Keith Crocker, presumably.

There are casual Ed Wood fans, and then there are Woodologists, the true obsessives for whom an annual Halloween screening of Plan 9 from Outer Space simply will not suffice. But who are these strange people? Well, to reiterate what I said when I last visited this topic, a true Woodologist must possess the following traits:
  • An abiding interest in Ed Wood, both the man and his work
  • A strong desire to uncover previously unknown information about Ed
  • (most critically) The willingness to act on that desire
Rare birds, these Woodologists, and few are more deserving of the title than cult cinema auteur, film professor, and 'zine  publisher Keith Crocker. A veritable Ed-vangelist, Keith takes Ed directly to the people, as a prolific community arts lecturer and presenter. And through his boutique label Cinefear, Keith has released two DVDs of Ed Wood's (alleged) 1970s pornographic loops, transferring these rare films from his own 8mm originals.

Recently, I sent Keith a modest questionnaire about his experiences as a Woodologist, and his answers were entertaining, enlightening, and occasionally startling. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood/Dziawer Odyssey, Part 10 by Greg Dziawer

Who's that man sitting at the bar?

Last weekend, I indulged myself in a common pursuit, slowly scanning through a film situated squarely within the orbit of Edward D. Wood, Jr., on a lark hoping to spot Ed. I scoured the backgrounds of a very busy 1949 variety musical B-feature called Square Dance Jubilee. A relatively early effort for editor turned director Paul Landres, Jubilee is mainly a showcase for country music acts of the day, including the infamous Spade Cooley, Smiley and Kitty, and The Broome Brothers. The film was co-written and co-produced by Ron Ormond (of Mesa of Lost Women and Yes Sir, Mr. Bones fame), and the cast includes cowboy actor Tom Tyler (from Crossroad Avenger).

At the 50:41 mark, during a performance of a novelty number called "Joan of Arkansas," there appears—for a few fleeting seconds—a character on the left periphery of the frame. He's seated at a bar, so his back is to us as he enjoys the music. But then, at 50:52, an old timer taps him on the shoulder, so he turns his head and gives us a profile view:

Who's that at the left? Is it Ed Wood?

There are myriad reasons why I was looking through this particular film in the first place, and we'll get to them in future installments. Until then, watch the film for yourself and see what you think. A vague resemblance? No way? Is this mysterious barfly our Eddie?

YOU BE THE JUDGE!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Another roundup of comics parodies by Joe Blevins

Remember these?

Well, folks, it's that time again. The long-running comic strip Mary Worth has just wrapped up another glacially paced story, so I figured it was time to do another assortment of comics parodies, takeoffs, and spoofs. I've accumulated quite a few of these over the last few months.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Odyssey, Part 10 by Greg Dziawer

Did Ed Wood's words wind up in a classic film from 1975?

A few days ago, in a private forum devoted to adult movies, someone asked the source of the loop excerpted in the 1975 Lee Frost feature A Climax of Blue Power. Forty-four minutes into this classic roughie, the main character—a psychotic security guard posing as a cop—spools up an 8mm loop in his bedroom. We can see that the loop is on a red plastic reel. That's consistent with the handful of 8mm loops produced by the Bloom family (Ed Wood's employers for most of the 1970s) that I have. For the next several minutes of Blue Power, we watch an excerpt from this subtitled loop, with a few cutaways back to the protagonist's reactions.

A moment from A Climax of Blue Power. Note the white box.

Until about 1973, 8mm pornographic loops were usually distributed in white boxes, exactly like the one seen in Blue Power. Each box would typically feature a photocopied image from the film and a text summary. The characteristically silent footage features a male-female scene shot on an indoor set. The visible subtitles, which give a pretty clear indication of what's transpiring onscreen, are as follows:

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 79: The 10 Most Shocking Stories in 'Nightmare of Ecstasy'

Ed looks very pink on this book cover.

Lillian Wood and Rudolph Grey (1984).
Memories can be tricky bastards. Most of us can barely recall in precise detail what we were doing last week, let alone 10 or 20 years ago. Over time, our memories of the past get blurrier and blurrier. Plus, as we try to make sense of an often chaotic and unpredictable world, we tend to take the events of our lives and shape them into meaningful, coherent stories. Often, that means exaggerating, eliminating, or flat out inventing certain details. These stories may not bear much resemblance to the truth, but we tell them to others and to ourselves so often that they become somehow stronger than the truth.

Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992) is truly a book of memories. In compiling the first (and still only) full-length biography of notorious filmmaker Ed Wood, Grey assembled the book largely out of quotes from Ed's friends, relatives, and professional associates. Though Grey does not annotate his sources whatsoever, most of these quotes presumably came from his own extensive interviews. Since Ed himself was already deceased by the time this book was being assembled, his quotes derive from old letters and vintage interviews. 

Nightmare is a great source of raw data and provided the foundation of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski's script for the 1994 biopic Ed Wood. Some passages from the book made it directly into the movie, almost word for word. But none of this means that Grey's book is factually accurate. The author was more interested in compiling colorful anecdotes about Eddie than in curating the objective "truth" about the man.

Which is to say that some of Nightmare of Ecstasy is likely bullshit. But it's bullshit that I haven't tired of reading and rereading, even though I bought my copy 25 years ago. In fact, while scouring its pages, I keep finding stories that shock me even today. Ed Wood, let's not forget, was an emotionally volatile alcoholic operating on the fringe of the movie business, so a little seediness is expected in a story like this. But there are a few anecdotes that are sordid even by the standards of this book, and those are the ones I'd like to highlight. These are the ugly, uncomfortable stories that didn't make it into Ed Wood.

These are presented in no particular order. And, again, if I haven't made it clear already, I am not declaring these stories to be true or untrue. But I can verify that each one appears in Nightmare of Ecstasy. Let's dive in.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

'Happy Days' memories: An interview with actor Richard Kuller

Richard Kuller on Happy Days in 1974; inset: Richard as he looks today.

The "R.O.T.C." episode of Happy Days
Recently, it has been my great pleasure to co-host a podcast called These Days Are Ours, devoted to the nostalgic 1974-84 sitcom Happy Days starring Henry Winkler and Ron Howard as fun-loving teens in 1950s Milwaukee. Each Tuesday, the effervescent Emily Freville and I review another episode of the classic show, thoroughly breaking down the plot, themes, and characters. Here's our latest installment.

Along the way, I've been doing some research into Happy Days, learning how it was made and delving into the careers of the people who made it happen. That includes the many fine actors who guest starred on the series, lending to their talents to an episode or two before moving on. This week, I had the privilege of conducting an online interview with one such performer, Richard Kuller, who appeared in the episodes "R.O.T.C." and "Kiss Me Sickly" in 1974 and 1975, respectively. Richard's other TV and film credits include CPO Sharkey, Copacabana, and Danger Team. He currently teaches theater and dance in California.

Here is our conversation. Richard was very cooperative in answering my nerdy questions about Happy Days, for which I am very grateful.

Had you heard of or watched Happy Days before appearing on it? I ask because the show was fairly new then. 
Yes. I had also done children’s theater in New York before that, with Henry Winkler. 
My guess is that the marching scenes in "R.O.T.C." were filmed away from the Paramount lot, probably at a college or high school with a football stadium. Do you remember where this was? 
It was at a high school, but I don’t remember which one. Those were real ROTC classes marching on the field. Henry was not called that day, although he did appear in the episode. 
Director Jerry Paris
Any particular memories of the cast or director Jerry Paris?

He was a very funny man, and he razzed me, since it was my first time on the show. He told me it was a tradition that I was to pay him a dollar. I thought he was joking and didn’t pay him. He confronted me on the field in front of everyone and demanded my lunch money, which was a few bucks. I pulled the envelope out of my uniform, and the money fell on the ground. He picked it up and plucked out a dollar. snapped it between his hands, and put it in his pocket. I never knew if this was a real tradition or he was just singling me out.
 
How did you come to audition for Happy Days? Did you audition for a lot of shows? 
I had a very good commercial agent and was doing well with him. I think one of the casting agents (they didn’t call them casting directors then) for the commercials got me into a reading for Happy Days, but I don’t remember the reading. I was doing a lot of theater at the time, but not getting many opportunities to read for television shows. 
Did you get recognized after appearing on the show? 
Only by friends who already knew me. That didn’t surprise me. I wore glasses and a big cap In that episode. 
Did you get residuals for your episode? 
I still get a couple of bucks every year. 
Did Happy Days help you land a part on CPO Sharkey? Maybe because the producers had already seen you in a military-type comedy?  
No, that was just another recommendation through my commercial agent. I came into that pilot after the cast was already in rehearsal and had bonded. I never did anymore after the pilot. 
You appeared on Happy Days again the very next year. Was that a good experience?  
It was not. My alarm clock failed and I was late for the call. This is a terrible no no. Different director [George Tyne], and he was pissed. When I arrived his only acknowledgment was, "Do you understand your jokes?" I said yes and was thrown into the scene. I didn’t blame him, but his attitude was he just wanted to get the scene done. I remember that Ron Howard, whom I had helped with his marching in the ROTC episode, was friendly. He was always a gentleman. Henry was Fonzie through and through and simply did not want to let me into that bathroom. When I saw the episode, I thought the tension in the situation actually worked well for the scene. 
Did you have any real-life experience with ROTC?  
No. I was able to pick up the marching because I am a dancer, and dancers are trained to pick up steps. 
Are there are any current projects you'd like to promote?  
I have been a teacher of theater and dance at two community colleges for the last 17 years. In that time I have not sought any acting work. In the spring I am directing and choreographing a production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Glendale Community college in California.  
Thanks for answering all these questions. I know it's a lot at once. 
That's OK. It was fun to reminisce. 
And thank you for your time. 
You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 78: (some of) The Many Resumes of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Ed Wood made sure to keep his CV up to date.

Edward D. Wood, Jr. was nothing if not an ardent self-promoter. Acting, writing, producing, directing, even making music—he claimed to be able to do it all. And he kept track of his ever-growing list of accomplishments, both real and illusory, through his resumés or CVs. He kept these updated all through his life, even during his impoverished, booze-soaked final years, perhaps always hoping that the next big break was just around the corner.
NOTE BEFORE WE CONTINUE: This is in no way, shape, or form a complete collection of Ed Wood's resumés. I'm sure there are many others floating around out there. You may even have some in your own collection. This is just a handful of the Wood CVs I've encountered in my research over the years. I'm sharing them in the hopes that you, too, will find them interesting.
These documents are fascinating to the Woodologist because they reveal a whole host of mysterious credits, some of which are undoubtedly imaginary or fraudulent. Eddie certainly wasn't above padding his resumé to impress a potential employer. Let's look at one from Eddie's early years in Hollywood. This example seems to date back to the early 1950s; it was typed onto the back of his acting headshot. By then, Ed had appeared in a few plays in Los Angeles, made an abortive attempt to complete Crossroads of Laredo, and directed a handful of TV commercials. Glen or Glenda was apparently still in the future, as it goes unlisted here under any of its many titles.

Early 1950s resume

Under Ed's TV and film directing credits, we can recognize a few commercials: "Surprise," "Treasure and Curves," "The Bestest," "Magic Man," and "Boiled in Oil." Many of the other titles here are likely commercials as well, since Eddie claimed to have directed dozens of them. Some of the most intriguing titles: "Angora Sweater Date," "The Girl Is a Boy," "William Television," "The Shack at the End of the Alley," and "The Will of God."

Interestingly, "Boiled in Oil" seems to refer to Ed's spot for Wesson Oil with Don Nagel, Phyllis Coates, and Conrad Brooks. According to Rudolph Grey's book Nightmare of Ecstasy, this commercial was made in 1954. That would have been after Glen or Glenda. Could this ad actually have been made earlier?

Excerpt from Nightmare of Ecstasy.

Crossroads of Laredo, naturally, is the silent Western Ed tried and failed to make with John Crawford Thomas in 1948. I'm guessing Five Minutes Before Eternity is an alternate title for The Sun Is Setting (1951), simply because both titles vaguely describe the plot. The Sun Is Setting also features Phyllis Coates, again lending credence to the theory that the Wesson commercial was made well before 1954.

Of Eddie's alleged stage credits, only The Blackguard Returns and Casual Company have really been documented. When or where Eddie appeared in The Red Peppers or Peg O' My Heart is anyone's guess. His list of dialects is intriguing. He never really got the opportunity to use any of them in his movies, though he did play a Mexican jailer in the 1974 porn loop Prisoner Love Making (aka The Jailer).

Ed's list of "characters played" is enlightening, including such roles as "Young Sweater Girl," "Neurotic," "and Cowgirl (Stunt Work)." Could that last one be a reference to Ed's work in The Baron of Arizona (1950)?

Interesting, too, that Ed claims to have worked at night clubs in New York, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C. Nightmare of Ecstasy declares on its timeline that Eddie studied drama in Washington in 1946, shortly after leaving the Marines.

Let's move on to another resumé, this one from the middle 1950s.

Mid-1950s resume.

By this time, approximately 1954, Eddie was no longer touting his theatrical work, concentrating instead just on TV and film. And he wasn't lumping his film, TV, and commercial work into one big category anymore. Each gets its own category on the CV. The commercials are further segregated into the ones he made for Story-Ad Films Inc., Consolidated TV Prod., and Play-Ad Films. It's notable that, to date, the only Wood commercials that have surfaced are ones from Story-Ad Films.

The unfinished Crossroads of Laredo has been downgraded to the status of a made-for-TV movie. Perhaps Ed wanted to sell it as a TV pilot. The real TV pilot Crossroad Avenger is now listed in this section as well, along with The Sun Is Setting. Those mysterious Westerns, Double Noose and War Drums, both for Sid Ross Productions, are on there. Douglas North has speculated that these were further TV pilots for Crossroad Avenger star Tom Keene. Maybe The Showdown was a third.

We now also have some feature film credits. Fans will immediately notice that some of these movies are well-known, while others are either lost or were never produced in the first place. Glen or Glenda is now listed, as is The Hidden Face, an alias for Jail Bait (1954). Outlaw Marshal must be an alternate title for the Johnny Carpenter vehicle The Lawless Rider (1954). A second Carpenter picture, White Flash, is here, but it may never have gotten made. Despite its religious title, The Flame of Islam was likely some kind of filmed burlesque show. And what else could Girl Gang Terrorists be except The Violent Years (1956)? This one has been hastily added by hand, while the rest of the titles are typed.

It's worth noting that Bride of the Monster (1955) is AWOL, but Ed's resume does list something called The Atomic Monster. Ed credits himself with the "title only" and says the film is from "Broder Productions." This takes a bit of explaining. See, there's a 1941 Universal film called Man Made Monster starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Lionel Atwill. In 1953, it was re-released by a company called Realart Pictures under the title The Atomic Monster. Realart was co-founded by a man named Jack Broder. Realart had supposedly swiped the title The Atomic Monster from a script that Ed had written with Alex Gordon. Alex managed to finagle $1,000 out of Realart, and Eddie's film became Bride of the Atom, then Bride of the Monster.

(By the way, I wonder if Ed's application to the Screen Directors Guild was accepted?)

Moving on to Ed's writing resume from 1973, specifically just the section dealing with his motion picture credits.

Ed's writing credits, page 1.

Ed's writing credits, page 2.

Nothing too earth-shattering here, I think you'll agree, apart from a few alternate titles, a couple of unmade films, and a handful of absolute mysteries. In the category of "absolute mysteries," we'll put Escape from Time, The Wicked West, and possibly Bed Time Talk. The Basket Ballers and The Teachers are scripts that Eddie wrote for Stephen C. Apostolof but never went into production. Most of the other films are ones that we have already discussed in this series. Note, however, that Eddie is now crediting The Atomic Monster to "Real-Art."

Poster for The Atomic Monster from Realart Pictures

Finally, I am posting the "bibliographic listing of Edward Wood's feature film credits" that Ed himself supplied to director Fred Olen Ray in 1978. It was printed in Cult Movies magazine, issue #11, page 32m, in 1994. Here is a scan of that entire page.

Cult Movies #11, page 32 (1994)

And here's a closeup of the movie titles.

Ed Wood lists his own movies.

I have already been over this list of film credits in the past, so I'll only point out the real oddities here. We all know The Venus Fly Trap, for instance, but what is The Lure other than The Venus Fly Trap under another name? Las Vegas Cheat is a complete mystery, as is the name "Betty Woods." Ditto The Naked Bowl for Jeff MacRay Productions. There is some speculation that Bed Time Talk is some kind of alias for Revenge of the Virgins (1959), but the only justification for that is the fact that the title is somehow attached to director-producer Pete Perry.

And then there is the fact that, by 1978, Eddie was taking credit for the screenplay of Hot Ice. This is utterly untrue, per the film's director Stephen C. Apostolof. Steve had no qualms about giving Eddie onscreen credit for the films he truly did write, but the diamond heist comedy was simply not among them.

That's the tricky part of dealing with Ed Wood's resumés. Like much of his legend, they're a combination of truth, half-truth, and outright fabrication.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Set Decoration Odyssey, Part Seven by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg found a literal pattern in Ed Wood's movies.

I was watching some 1970s adult loops the other night, including a few titles from the early Swedish Erotica series now believed to have been directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. I've seen these films before, numerous times over, but while viewing loop #16, "Behind the Ate Ball Part II," I noticed something that looked familiar. The sheet on the bed—featuring a floral pattern in pastel colors with a polka-dotted background—matched the pillow cases used by the main characters in Ed Wood's 1972 pornographic feature The Young Marrieds. The garish, distinctive design in pink, green, and orange was unmistakable.

(top) "Behind the Ate Ball"; (bottom) The Young Marrieds.

Naturally, I pulled up The Young Marrieds for comparison and verified that it was indeed the same pattern. Could it even be the same set, split up in two different places? Finding this connection reminded me of the existence of the pair of Guardian Lion statues that popped up repeatedly in Ed Wood's films. Not only do they appear in The Young Marrieds and 1971's Necromania, but in dozens of related loops from that era. 

In writing about these props in an earlier article, I had briefly mentioned that the familiar lions even turn up in Ed Wood's 1955 film Bride of the Monster. Upon closer inspection, they look eerily like the exact same pair, over 15 years earlier! If you watch the colorized version of Bride from Legend Films, these props are easier to spot. In fact, they turn up in three different places sporadically throughout the film. You can find the lions in Harvey B. Dunn's office:

Can you spot the lions on the shelf?

On a filing cabinet next to Paul Marco's desk:

Can you spot the lions on the filing cabinet.

And on the mantle at the old Willows place.

Can you spot the lions on the mantle?

What does it all mean? The puzzle will one day reveal itself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part 16 by Greg Dziawer

The life of Ray "Crash" Corrigan was not without scandal.

I. Serial Killers 

Ray Corrigan with his son Tommy.
Until I finally saw Ed Wood's 1970 feature Take It Out in Trade for the first time last week, I had never thought about that film too deeply. I'd already seen the outtakes many times over. They were originally released by Something Weird Video back in the '90s on VHS, and they're now included on the new DVD/Blu-ray edition of Take It Out in Trade. Poring over those silent outtakes, I'd recognized many pieces of set decoration from other Wood-related productions of the era, including a gold skull and a bronze king cobra. Wood biographer Rudolph Grey noted both of those items in his capsule review of the film in his book Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. back in 1992. Grey also mentions the film's associate producer, Ray Corrigan

As it turns out, this is the same actor and stuntman Ray "Crash" Corrigan who starred as one of the Three Mesquiteers in dozens of B-Westerns in the mid-to-late 1930s, alongside actors like John Wayne, Robert Livingston, and Max Terhune. Ray also appeared in his share of Republic serials. In fact, he'd taken his screen name Corrigan from the character he played in one such production, 1936's The Undersea Kingdom, two chapters of which later wound up on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Corrigan also owned his own gorilla costumes and, for a time, was the go-to guy in low-budget films to play any gorilla characters a script might require. In addition, he ran the Corriganville Ranch—filming location for thousands of motion pictures and TV shows, mostly Westerns—for more than a quarter of a century. He sold the place in the mid-'70s to Bob Hope, who redubbed it Hopetown. By that time, the film industry in which Ray once flourished had been slowly killed off—first by television, then by movies that showed things you couldn't see on TV.

II. A Coincidence?

While I was digging around last week about Ray "Crash" Corrigan, a search result returned an obituary for a Don "Crash" Corrigan. The associated details seemed unrelated to Ray—I had not come across any mention that Ray had a son named Don—but I nonetheless obviously had to click on it to learn the truth.

The obituary for Don "Crash" Corrigan ultimately proved to have no relevance to my pursuit. Strangely, though—and I can say unreservedly that the most amazing aspect of researching Ed Wood has been for me these moments of seeming "agency"—Don Corrigan turned out to have grown up in the neighborhood where I now live, and he graduated in 1966 from the school my 15-year-old daughter now attends, four blocks down the street. Two instances of his obit were published in the local papers here in Wilkes-Barre, PA. 

III. Use Cases, or: What's It All About, Alfie?

"Crash" Corrigan's first starring role came in the 1936 Republic serial The Undersea Kingdom, influenced by Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon. An ad from the December 25, 1936 Kansas City Star pairs the serial with an Our Gang short. 

Undersea Kingdom is paired with Our Gang.

A comic short series popular since the silent era, the Our Gang films were sold to television in 1955 under the better-known title The Little Rascals and enjoyed decades of success on the new medium. Our Gang's most famous alumnus must be the character of Alfalfa, the skinny, squeaky-voiced boy played by Carl Switzer. Tragically, just as his old films were finding a new audience, Swtizer died an untimely death in a violent dispute with a man named Moses "Bud" Stiltz in North Hollywood in 1959. Stiltz had been Ray's ranch foreman as Corriganville began to fade in popularity as a movie set.

Here's a write-up about the case from the January 22, 1959 edition of The Madera Tribune.

The sad end of Alfalfa.

IV. Spanky and Alfalfa

In 1958, The Bride and the Beast, a jungle melodrama written by Ed Wood, was released. The titular beast, an amorous gorilla who steals Charlotte Austin away from Lance Fuller, is widely reported to have been played by Ray "Crash" Corrigan, who'd portrayed many such beasts over the years. A 2007 DVD edition of the film maintains it was actually Ray's protege, Steve Calvert, inside the suit, but Drew Friedman's Ed Wood, Jr. Players trading card set (1995) credits Ray with the part, as does Nightmare of Ecstasy. Friedman suggests Ray and Steve were the same person.

Ray Corrigan's card in the Drew Friedman series.

Ray's second wife, Elaine DuPont, noted that her husband went often to the San Diego Zoo to watch the gorillas and study their movements.. Elaine performed for the public at the Corriganville Ranch, as a singer and Western trick rider. Like Ray, she sported embroidered Western wear designed by the legendary Nudie Cohn. Elaine also said that Ray had four gorilla costumes. 

The gorilla in Bride of the Beast, curiously, is named Spanky. Another Our Gang connection!

V. Disintegration

Corrigan's first marriage to Rita Jane Smeal, whom he met when she was an usherette in 1938, disintegrated in 1954. The couple had three children, the oldest of them named Tommy. And, according to the commentary track by Rudolph Grey and Frank Henenlotter on Take It Out in Trade, it was Tommy who supplied the gorgeous print of the film for the new special edition.

The Corrigans' divorce proceedings soon grew ugly, with Rita charging that Ray had threatened her life and the lives of their children with a loaded gun. Ray made a counter-charge of his own, accusing Rita of adultery with the aforementioned Bud Stiltz.

Here are some articles about Ray and Rita's divorce from the May 4 and June 4, 1954 editions of The San Bernadino Sun.

The Corrigans' marriage did not end well.

Rita would subsequently marry Stiltz. Five years into their union, Carl Switzer knocked on the door of Rita and Bud's place, reputedly demanding money owed him by Bud. Bud shot and killed him, under circumstances that remain mysterious. Although the incident was ultimately ruled to be self-defense, Tommy Corrigan has said, "It was more like murder." Moses "Bud" Stiltz died at the age of 62 on May 15, 1983 in San Bernadino, California. He's buried in Forest Lawn.

VI. A New Look

A newspaper interview with Ray Corrigan in late 1970 found him scouting film locations in Oregon. The article mentions Ray producing and appearing in a film titled The Ribald Robin Hood. He's surely referring to The Erotic Adventures of Robin Hood (1969). That film's IMDb page lists a clutch of producers, but Ray is not among them. In the credits, though, we find mention of a certain Raymond Renard. His own IMDb page includes French films we'll conclude were the work of a different Ray Renard. 

From The Oregonian, December 21, 1970.

A showing of Ed Wood's Trade.
At this point, I should explain that Ray "Crash" Corrigan's real name was Raymond Benitz. Before he took his famous screen name, he was billed as Ray Benard and, erroneously, Ray Bernard. So the Ray Renard from Robin Hood could just be Ray Corrigan under yet another pseudonym.

UPDATE: Bryin Abraham of the blog A Wasted Life  reported by e-mail from Berlin that he had screened The Erotic Adventures of Robin Hood in the process of compiling an article about Uschi Digard. The article mentions that Ray "Crash" Corrigan had indeed appeared in the film as Robin's dad. Ray's appearance in Robin Hood is confirmed by author Jerry L. Schneider in the 2016 book The True Story of Ray "Crash" Corrigan.

In the 1970 newspaper interview, Ray downplays the sexual content of Take It Out In Trade, with the article referring to it as a "new look" film.  This was a euphemism for the then-burgeoning softcore genre, which was about to be subsumed by hardcore sex films like Deep Throat (1972). The movie Ray was then said to be producing, Sex in America, appears to have never been completed, at least not under that title. 

And as the newspaper article notes, Ray had business interests in the northwestern United States, including the San Juan Islands, which remain a popular location from which to spot Orca whales. On the Take It Out in Trade commentary track, Frank Henenlotter repeatedly insists that the film never played theatrically. However, as vintage newspaper ads attest, the film did play the Pacific Northwest, including a stint at the Eros Theater in Portland, Oregon.

"Crash" passed away a few hundred miles south in Brookings, Oregon in August 1976. He was 74.