The Thunder Child
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Con-tact: Science Fiction Convention Previews and Reports
Cadet's Log: 2006 Williamsburg Film Festival - SATURDAY
1) Viewed Beverly Garland's First 50 Years in Show Business
At ten, Beverly Garland entered the room and introduced a twenty-minute film called Beverly Garland's First 50 Years in Show Business. It was a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane as audience members were treated to excerpts from many of her television shows, from an episode on Medic (Richard Boone) in which she won an Emmy as a patient who is diagnosed with cancer, to her comedy roles, to her stint on Lois and Clark as Lois' mother.
Then she introduced the Roger Corman film Not of this Earth (1957). (Accept no remakes.) Ms. Garland played a nurse, Nadine Storey, who is given an assignment by her employer, Doctor Rochelle, to move into the house of a man named Paul Johnson - who is suffering from a blood disease and needs frequent transfusions. Paul Johnson, of course, is not of this Earth. He wears dark glasses at all times...when he removes them..people die! He also has the power to control others' minds. He has come to Earth because the people of his own planet are dying - suffering from radiation poisoning, and they need transfusions of blood to survive. They are trying to find a cure, but meanwhile Johnson goes around killing people for their blood. Can Nadine and her boyfriend, police officer Harry Sherbourne, figure out what's happening in time to save Earth?
During the introduction, Garland was animated as usual. The phrases in bold below correspond to her gestures.
After the appreciative clapping at the end of the movie Garland said, "You do it...you don?t camp it... We were all trying really hard to be good actors and good actresses and we played it honestly and like it was really true and when you see it...so many years later...what, 30 years later (actually 50) and you look at it and you go, ?You?ve got to be kidding.?
But we played it the way it should have been played. Strangely enough, the movies that I made with Roger Corman, Gunslinger and the things that I?ve done with him, stand up, because we played it honestly, and we were real, and we didn?t camp it. We took it very seriously. We all wanted to be good actors and good actresses and we really wanted to have a career in this business, and so we approached it that way and I think that?s the way that you should have approached it. It has stood up. You know, I can?t help it, with the little hats and stuff. [dated clothing, mores, etc.]"
She then went on to make a few comments about another Corman movie, It Conquered the World. This is the movie in which the monster resembled on overgrown carrot with fangs.
?That was the funniest monster I?ve ever seen....I said, ?Roger, we?ve got to see this monster...what does he look like?? And he says, ?I?ll show him to you. How about lunch on Wednesday?? I said, ?Okay.?
Ms. Garland then opened the room up for questions, and after a few more minutes the session ended to a round of applause.
At 3 pm there was a choice between a pael with William Smith (Laredo and many motorcycle films among others) and Will Hutchins (various Western films), or viewing Rebel in Town starring Ben Cooper and John Payne, with Ben Cooper to speak afterwards. I elected for the movie.
I arrived halfway through Johnny Western's talk prepatory to the showing of the Have Gun, Will Travel episode, "The Return of Dr. Thackery" (June Lockhart as Paladin's old flame) in which he had a role. Western was speaking about Johnny Cash and what a great man was - in particular in doing his prison shows, which was very touching.
All of the guests at this year's festival were pleasant and approachable and a joy to listen to, but for sheer exuberant senses of humor there was no matching Beverly Garland or Ben Cooper.
The afternoon started with a four minute film - a series of clips of stunt work Cooper had done in his films and movies - usually being shot and dying, although it also included shots of his gun work (spinning, fast draw, etc). Cooper explained that he did presentations around the world for a training company called Network 21. Network 21 had make short films to introduce each of their speakers - all of them "glamourous" in their homes or cars. For Cooper they did this.
At its finish Cooper commented, ?I got killed a lot. Pamela [his wife] counted it up one time, just for the amusement of our children. I had been killed in 247 television shows and 19 movies [and he only did about 35 movies].
Network 21 is the training group I work with," he continued, "They would play that and then I?d walk out and say, Network 21 is a lot safer."
Then he addressed the film:
"This was the first picture I did for Howard [Koch]. I was under contract at Republic and they loaned me out to him to do this picture... John Payne and Ruth Roman, J. Carroll Naish plays my father, Ben Johnson and John Smith are my brothers in it, I was the rebel in town, and I loved the script, it was a very well written script. I was most interested when I saw it...I haven?t seen it for many many years, I hope it?s good because it?s my favorite, if it?s not good it won?t be my favorite anymore. Y?know, really, it?s kind of lousy to see something forty - fifty years later - but Benny Coleman was the cameraman on it, it?s in black and white and he photographed it in a very stark manner, almost like an Italian black and white film, very very stark, which fit the story line I think exceedingly well....the picture was a joy to make. I got to do what I loved to do and I got paid for it. And this picture, I only did about 35 pictures, and I loved every bit of it, but this picture, when people would ask me what was your favorite show, out of probably 4000 or 500 live or taped tv shows, a Gunsmoke I did called "Apprentice Doc" where I studied medicine with Doc, Milburn Stone...and the favorite movie was this one, as far as my experience in working with John and Ruth and Ben, it was just a fabulous, wonderful...experience."
I asked Cooper if he still did his gun work, and he did. Usually he brought his gunbelt with him to festivals and conventions, but unfortunately he had not done so this time. But when he did, he would have the audience raise their hands chest high, and by the time they could clap their hands he would have drawn his gun, he was that fast (and that was not as fast as he had once been.)
Cooper had to cut the talk short as it was time for him to go to the Ballroom for the dinner show, so everyone gave him a round of applause.
Overall it was a very enjoyable four days.
The Williamsburg Film Festival has already put up its list of guests for next year (of course their presence will be contingent upon health):
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