A Contest To Do Kilroy
Cooper and Coogan Co-Star in Kilroy Was Here (1947)
A Monogram delight, and very much made for the moment that was end to a World War where "Kilroy" was a mythical figure that seemed to have turned up everywhere. By time the boys got home, he'd gone from foxholes to the Hit Parade, thanks to novelty tuning by Ted Fio Rito and endless reference by club/on-air jesters. This iron was hot and not protected by copyright, having sprung out of nowhere that could be registered, so it was only a matter of who could get to screens first. Arthur W. Kelley announced a Kilroy feature for United Artists release, while Bob Savini of Astor Pictures was for doing a series of six using the character. Even George Pal got in the act with announcement that he would produce Kilroy as an independent.
Things got testy with six contenders at a start post, each claiming prior right. Savini and Kelley had quarrelsome exchange of letters to delight of a trade, Savini having got a script to the Screenwriter's Guild, but forgetting to file with the Motion Picture Association, a neglect that Kelley seized upon. These were the sorts of internecine squawks that paved way to many a finished, or unfinished, film. Even so minor an asset as Kilroy was fought over like meat by starving wolves. Well, they each smelled dollars, and there's all it took to begin a fight. Agent and now start-up producer Sid Luft took the ribbon by signing former child stars Jackie Cooper and Jackie Coogan as rib-tickler team, his Phil Karlson-directed venture to go before Monogram cameras, but wait ... what about that Japanese Kilroy done as a four-reeler with comic pair Dekao Yahoo and Gontaro ... could that crab Luft's act?
The Nippon Kilroy was a curiosity, but not distributed here, so way was clear for "legitimate" Mono treatment, filming begun as of 3/19/47. Jackie Cooper recalled in his memoir that it took ten days to finish Kilroy Was Here at a cost of "somewhere around $100,000." Trade reviewing of the result was generous, Film Daily calling Kilroy "a prize exploitation offering." The pic would be first of four for July Monogram release, the "World Premiere" in