Monday, July 30, 2012

Bad Movie Histories Crown International

Ed here: I've never been a big fan of bad movie. True there are some true gems among the C-level pics but as with self-published books (though this is changing because so many pros are getting in the game) the odds are against you as to you begin to plow through mile high stacks of terrible writing.

But as you know I love Hwood history so histories of the little production companies that produced these movies fascinate me. Here from TCM Movie Morlocks is a brief bit from a long and enjoyable article on Crown International..

"Jacobs’ daughter, Marilyn J. Tenser, and her husband, Mark Tenser, became more involved as Crown executives at the start of the 1970s. “Mark knew dollars and cents but creatively he wasn’t that strong,” Crutcher says. “Red, on the other hand, was very good in all departments.” However, one department the Tensers excelled in was acquisitions. “I’d say they looked at six or seven films a week,” remembers Crutcher, who worked closely with the couple during the production ofSTANLEY (1972) and SUPERCHICK (1973). “They brought me in to see everything they screened for consideration. I saw a film with Lyle Waggoner in it called LOVE ME DEADLY (1973), which was about necrophilia. Another one I saw with them was LITTLE LAURA AND BIG JOHN (1973), which they actually ended up distributing. I thought it was pretty good, but when the lights came up I could see they weren’t a bit impressed by it. I told them it had a unique setting in the Everglades and that I liked the vintage cars and Karen Black, but they were ho-hum about it, and that’s why I was surprised later when I found out they had acquired it. I don’t think that was my doing at all though. They probably got a good price on it.” Sometimes filmmakers would screen incomplete movies for Crown in an attempt to interest Jacobs in putting up the funds needed to complete the pictures. This was writer-director Lee Frost’s plan for THE CHAIN, a low-budget prison escape movie released by Crown in 1971 as CHAIN GANG WOMEN (1971). As the late Frost explained to Shock Cinema magazine in 2002, “I got some guys together and we shot that, but then I got an AIP picture I had to do, which I think was CHROME AND HOT LEATHER (1971). So I put THE CHAIN on a shelf, didn’t touch it for a year, and one day I’m sittin’ there watching it, and I said, ‘Y’know, this picture has merit. This can be something in the major market.’ My partner [Wes Bishop] said, ‘I’ll talk to Red Jacobs about it at Crown and see what happens.’ So I made a presentation for them. I ran a part of the picture and I said, ‘Now we’re going to shoot this, this, this, and this,’ and then I ran another piece of the picture, did the same thing, and nobody understood what I was saying. They wouldn’t do anything with it. I said to my partner, ‘Let’s raise the money from somebody else.’ So we raised some more money, shot it, did all the stuff that you see in the picture — the chains, the guys fighting in the mountains, helicopter shots of the truck moving and all that — and then we finished it off with the old picture. We showed it to Crown, and they said, ‘Whoa, this is great!’ and they took it. I said, ‘But that’s what I was telling you — youassholes.’”

“They were more into the action pictures and sexy things than horror, but they’d look at anything,” Crutcher remembers of Crown. “If you were legit, you could call them up and very easily get a screening appointment. And they had a knack for knowing what would sell and how they could sell it.”

for the entire piece from TCM Movie Morlocks go here:


pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow, how did I never hear of this one before?

Ed Gorman said...

What's amazing is that Fabian got first billing over Karen Black. Black had a real movie career. Fabian was in a handful of Bs. Makes me wonder who Black's agent was at that point in her career. What a genius. :)

Todd Mason said...

Shall have to check this in its entirety...I have been amused indefinitely that the same Crown made sleazy drive-in exploitation fodder and relatively undistinguished (but widely circulated) educational films in the same decades...rather as if Encyclopedia Britannica Films and Troma were the same company (and if you've ever seen THE ROMANTICS from EB films, you might suspect as much).