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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30's Stock Footage Turned Loose in 1964

Columbia Cheats With East Of Sudan (1964)

My stars, what a cheater! --- and so late as 1964. Never such a glut of stock footage, going back to the 30's, no less. East Of Sudan was produced by Charles H. Schneer, earning sneers here (I had to say that) for taking admissions under brazenly false pretense. Source of all action, that is activity involving more than a handful of cast, was Korda's The Four Feathers, circa 1939, originally Technicolor, though footage borrowed here looks wan and distressed. Stock from that one must have come cheap or was sold aggressively, as it seemed to turn up frequent in budget-challenged actioners. Only Hell's Angels and One Million B.C. got more second-hand play. East Of Sudan's mission is to reach Khartoum before the Brit stronghold falls, this two years before Chuck Heston presided over similar effort. Trek ramrod is Anthony Quayle, rugged again as he was in Tarzan's Greatest Adventure, but denied dialogue as credible. In fact, writing is particularly bad here, and I'm usually forbearing as to that --- well, you can only take so much --- were it not for ongoing outrage of process screens (folks fleeing elephant charges from twenty years past), I'd have chucked Sudan for another Johnny Mack Brown. Don't blame Columbia though: their On-Demand disc, Techniscope and all, serves EOS well as possible under trying weight of its lousiness.


Blogger Mike Cline said...

MGM cheated as well using the animal stampede from KING SOLOMON'S MINES in TARZAN THE APE MAN (1959), WATUSI (1959) and TRADER HORN (1973). I saw those zebras so many times, I almost knew them by name.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Lou Lumenick said...

Six years earlier, Columbia distributed STORM OVER THE NILE (1955) a remake of THE FOUR FEATHERS that also recycled footage from the earlier version.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

Wonder if the studio's B-unit got a gander at Jules White's modus operandi vis remakes and stock footage, and were thus inspired. Or perhaps marching orders came down from Harry Cohn: "Hey, schmucks, look at what the shorts department's doing! Why aren't YOU doing that? It'll save us a BUNDLE!"

6:44 PM  
Blogger Dasinfogod said...

Any movie with Jenny Agutter in it can't be all that bad, eh?

8:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

And let's not forget Warners recycling footage from "The Adventures of Robin Hood" in the ridiculous "Story of Mankind."

1:56 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Columbia's raiding the vaults was not limited to two-reel comedies. Columbia serials of the 1950s (from commander-in-cheap Sam Katzman) are patchwork quilts of stock shots from older cliffhangers, and Katzman's "Jungle Jim" features from the same period used so much stock that sharp-eyed viewers could identify the footage for theater managers. (One exhibitor reported silent-era footage from CHANG.)

Republic serials reused so many cliffhanger sequences from the 1940s that kids began to notice the repetition, and made their complaints known.

And from Universal we have the fabled THE SWORD OF ALI BABA, rehashing ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES; and THE KING'S PIRATE, with TV's Doug McClure reprising Errol Flynn's lead in AGAINST ALL FLAGS. Any numbers on those, John?

5:56 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Scott, you've reminded me of how I long to see "Sword Of Ali Baba" and "The King's Pirate" again!

I remember being first alerted to stock footage from "Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves" in "Sword Of ..." by Joe Dante's "Castle Of Frankenstein" review back in 1965.

4:24 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Craig Reardon sends along some cogent observations about stock footage, Charles H. Schneer, and our favorite, Ray Harryhausen:


Really had to laugh at your typically-frank and entertaining expose of "East of Sudan" as a lot of Scotch tape and "Four Feathers"! Well...Schneer did, after all, matriculate from the notorious Sam Katzman school of film-flam. (Yes, ho-ho, that's FILM-flam, yock-yock.) In fact, I don't know for certain, but I seem to have it in mind that Schneer was married to Katzman's daughter. THAT old one! (I.e., the father-in-law takes you into the biz.) I still have a permanent place of gratitude in my heart for Schneer's almost single-handed sponsorship/patronage of Ray Harryhausen. You just don't hear about a whole string of projects Ray was offered by other producers during the years (from 1954 'till he retired in 1980, basically!) he partnered with Schneer. There was...well, basically just "One Million Years B.C." (probably if not certainly THE worst film he ever worked on, in my opinion), and then--- nothing else! One or two he revealed in his autobiographies that were discussed after "Clash of the Titans", but never actually got made. Oh, yeah---also about three minutes of the famous footage from "The Animal World", produced by a truly tasteless and repulsive producer, Irwin Allen! I do think that Ray's one remaining non-Schneer picture, also his debut as a solo---"Beast From 20,000 Fathoms"---is an incredibly-well done cheap film, which looks and sounds far better than it deserves to; and of course his stupendous, clever, almost overly ambitious special effects, on a shoestring, are hugely responsible for this, but the film is also well-written and directed and fun to watch (possibly I'm pushing my luck here!), likewise well cast, and well photographed (this I strongly believe; the D.P. was the underrated John L. Russell, of "Psycho" fame.) We already find we agree heartily about David Buttolph's terrific score, which pulls the film up into the 'A' category, in my mind. In fact, this film makes the earliest Schneer-Harryhausen pictures all look second rate in comparison, until the unexpected surprise of "7th Voyage of Sinbad", which has a piquant quality from its marvelous titles and music forward throughout 'till the final frame. (But it, too, is full of stock shots, including 'the final frame'!--- most of them apparently culled from a film I've never personally scene, RKO's "The Spanish Main"---which is why we have a Spanish galleon instead of an Arabic ship! But, that cut together decently with a recreation of another famed Spanish galleon at anchor in the Madrid harbor, which crafty Schneer employed: a recreation of Columbus's Santa Maria! ) I've seen posters indicating that "East of Sudan" was paired with "First Men In the Moon" in its initial runs. Fortunately, I guess I'd have to say, I saw "First Men..." incongruously paired with an Elvis picture, one of---if not perhaps even the last---produced by Hal Wallis: "Roustabout", costarring a still attractive Barbara Stanwyck, albeit she'd obviously had a very good facelift performed sometime early in the '60s. There's a totally tenuous connection between "Roustabout" and "One Million Years B.C.", and it's---you guessed it!---Raquel Welch, who has an anonymous bit as a cutie pie grooving to Elvis as he sings in a roadhouse early in the film. Of course, some words are passed from low lifes in the crowd, cueing another Elvis fisticuff-fest. These were as predictable as they were in John Ford films!

9:32 AM  
Blogger antoniod said...

And over in Germany in the 50s, they released a new WHITE HELL OF PITZ PALU, made up largely of footage from the old PALU but with new plot footage starring the legendary "Blonde Hans", Hans Albers.

12:09 PM  

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