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 Posted:   Feb 26, 2023 - 4:25 AM   
 By:   TheAvenger   (Member)

One the oldest movie producers has just left the lot to go to the big sound stage in the sky.

Mirisch produced so many great movies, including The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and the original Pink Panther.

 Posted:   Feb 26, 2023 - 8:26 AM   
 By:   Scott McOldsmith   (Member)

His production company also produced The Rat Patrol, TV series. I did a full series rewatch just recently. Action packed fun, no real plots but a good if repetitive time.

His resume of important films is impressive indeed. RIP.

 Posted:   Feb 26, 2023 - 2:20 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

The Mirisch Corporation produced "The Magnificent Seven", "The Satan Bug", and "In The Heat Of The Night" for United Artists, among many others. Mirisch and his brother and half brother started their producing careers with Bomba The Jungle Boy series at Monogram. R.I.P. Walter Mirisch.

 Posted:   Feb 26, 2023 - 3:17 PM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

Seems like you'd see his name everywhere, but he didn't actually produce that many films. Maybe it was just a couple (named here already) that gave his name cachet.

 Posted:   Feb 27, 2023 - 2:45 AM   
 By:   John Rokesmith   (Member)

Seems like you'd see his name everywhere, but he didn't actually produce that many films. Maybe it was just a couple (named here already) that gave his name cachet.

He also produced through his company some minor films like Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, One, Two, Three, West Side Story, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, Hawaii and The Thomas Crown Affair.

There are few producers that can match his output.

 Posted:   Apr 3, 2023 - 10:23 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Walter Mirisch produced his first film, the 1947 crime drama FALL GUY, for Monogram Pictures. The film marked the first lead role of actor-director Leo Penn (1921--1998), who previously had appeared in bit roles. He was credited onscreen and in reviews as Clifford Penn, a name that he used only for this film. Penn was the father of actors Sean and Chris Penn.

FALL GUY was based on Cornell Woolrich's short story “Cocaine” which first appeared in the legendary pulp magazine Black Mask in 1940 under the title “C-Jag,” and was also published in other magazines under the titles “Dream Of Death” and “Just Enough To Cover A Thumbnail.” Reginald LeBorg directed the film, which has an unreleased stock music score compiled (and partly composed) by Edward J. Kay.

 Posted:   Apr 4, 2023 - 1:02 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Perhaps useful to add that he reached a staggering 101 years. That's pretty amazing right there.

 Posted:   Apr 4, 2023 - 2:08 AM   
 By:   Ny   (Member)

He produced Man of the West for Anthony Mann, a very bold western where the bad guy wins, a terminally ill Lee J. Cobb getting the better of Gary Cooper no less.

 Posted:   Apr 4, 2023 - 10:34 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Walter Mirisch produced a second Monogram film noir with the evocative title I WOULDN’T BE IN YOUR SHOES. Don Castle and Elyse Knox star as “Tom and Ann Quinn,” down-on-their-luck hoofers living in a rented room with a hot plate and a communal bathroom down the hall. Ann spends her evenings dancing for dollars at a "dance academy" while Tom spends his days trying to book their dance act at a nightclub. Soon, however, Tom is accused of murder after his shoe prints are found at the scene of the crime. Ann follows the trail of clues to the genuine killer.

William Nigh directed the 1948 film, which was based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich. The novel, in turn, was based on a short story of the same title, which Woolrich published under the pseudonym William Irish, in a 1938 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. The unreleased stock music score was compiled (and partly composed) by Edward J. Kay.

 Posted:   Apr 5, 2023 - 12:13 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The character BOMBA, THE JUNGLE BOY originated in a series of 1920s boys' books by “Roy Rockwood,” which was the pseudonym for various ghost writers. In the film, “George Harland” (Onslow Stevens) and his daughter, “Patricia” (Peggy Ann Garner), are photographers who discover a wild boy in the jungle. When Patricia become lost, “Bomba” (Johnny Sheffield) brings her back, overcoming plagues of locusts, forest fires and fierce wild animals.

When they optioned about 20 of the short Bomba novels, Monogram Pictures had planned to shoot them three per year and produce them in color. They eventually settled for about two titles annually and filming in black-and-white. As an example of how popular the low budget Jungle Boy programmers were, studio records say this 1949 film cost only about $80,000 and grossed around $500,000 - a huge profit margin for the Poverty Row studio.

Johnny Sheffield had previously appeared as "Tarzan's" son "Boy" in several films starring Johnny Weissmuller as "Tarzan." Monogram assigned producer Walter Mirisch to the picture. After the success of the first film, Mirisch became the producer for the entire Bomba series. Sheffield starred in, Walter Mirisch produced, and Ford Beebe directed all twelve pictures in the series. The Bomba series marked the end of Sheffield’s acting career, after appearances in 28 features. The subsequent Bomba films were:

  • THE HIDDEN CITY (1950)
  • SAFARI DRUMS (1953)
  • THE GOLDEN IDOL (1954)

     Posted:   Apr 6, 2023 - 11:09 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Five astronauts successfully make a FLIGHT TO MARS where they encounter seemingly friendly and advanced inhabitants who harbor covert plans to use their ship to invade Earth.

    After small studios Lippert Pictures (ROCKETSHIP X-M) and Eagle-Lion Films (DESTINATION MOON) had produced science fiction films in 1950, Monogram tried their hand with this 1951 release. Producer Walter Mirisch spent even less money on his picture than the other studios, since the interior of the spaceship is the same one used for ROCKETSHIP X-M and the suits that the Martians wear were leftovers from DESTINATION MOON. Other sets and costumes were rented or borrowed from Universal, and had previously been seen over a decade earlier in the "Flash Gordon” serials.

    Director Lesley Selander had to shoot almost every dialogue scene in one take. Since the cost of color film added 50% to the production budget, there was very little spare footage for retakes.

    According to star Cameron Mitchell, principal photography was accomplished in 5 days. The entire film, including pickups and effects shots, was shot within three weeks. With two weeks set aside for editing and post production work, the film was completed about six weeks after filming commenced.

    Marlin Skiles provided the unreleased score for the film. FLIGHT TO MARS grossed about $600,000 vs. $3.7 million for DESTINATION MOON and $1.6 million for ROCKETSHIP X-M.

     Posted:   Apr 6, 2023 - 3:25 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    FLAT TOP tells its story in flashback as “Dan Collier” (Sterling Hayden), a senior officer, recalls from the bridge of the aircraft carrier Princeton during the Korean War, the first squadron he commanded on the ship during World War II. Arriving as green recruits, the men resent Collier's grounding the most dedicated man in the squadron (Keith Larsen) for ignoring a wave-off; even more so, they fail at first to understand his sometimes harsh efforts at preparing them for battle against the Japanese. The various men of the squadron are mostly identified by what they did in civilian life—William Schallert plays a poet-turned-pilot named "Longfellow"; John Bromfield plays an ex-football player nicknamed "Snakehips". Most of the conflict centers on Collier and his efforts to make a good executive officer out of “Joe Rodgers” (Richard Carlson), who was already in the Navy when he transferred to aviation, but is too concerned with being popular with the men to be a good commanding officer.

    Every studio made World War II combat dramas, and the films with exemplary scripts, direction, or stars had a chance at the box office. Producer Walter Mirisch decided to make his aircraft carrier saga in color, which would give it an edge over similar pictures such as Warners' TASK FORCE (1949). All of the movies about the Pacific War had access to the same Navy aerial combat footage, and only some of it was in color. Most of the dramatic dogfight and strafing/bombing footage was from 16mm Kodachrome cameras operated by the pilots themselves, or in some cases triggered whenever the planes' guns were fired. To make 1944's documentary THE FIGHTING LADY, enlargement separations from the actual Kodachrome masters were made, for Technicolor printing.

    Mirisch secured access to plenty of color stock footage of this kind, but pricey Technicolor lab work and printing was far beyond a Monogram budget. He turned instead to the Cinecolor process, which used only two emulsions instead of three -- red and blue. In (at least one form of) Cinecolor, the two emulsions were on opposite sides of the acetate film stock. Focusing could be an issue, but original Cinecolor prints didn't fade. With access granted to film a few scenes (mostly rear-screen plates) on a real aircraft carrier, FLAT TOP became a reality. For a Monogram price, Walter Mirisch delivered a color feature packed with authentic combat thrills.

    Lesley Selander directed the film. The film's preview took place on 11 November, Armistice Day, in 1952 aboard the Princeton in the San Diego Harbor and was attended by the press, naval and civil leaders, and the ship's crew, some of whom appeared in the picture. The picture was released in Great Britain under the title “Eagles of the Fleet” because the term "flat top" was unknown overseas. The picture received an Academy Award nomination in the Film Editing category. Marlin Skiles provided the unreleased score.

     Posted:   Apr 7, 2023 - 12:18 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Without warning, Scottish baronet “Gerald MacTeam” (Richard Carlson) takes off to his ancestral home and cuts off his engagement to socialite “Kitty” (Veronica Hurst). Refusing to take no for an answer and unable to think about anyone else, she forces her aunt “Edith” (Katherine Emery) to accompany her uninvited to the MacTeam estate and barges in only to find Gerald significantly aged and more than a little perturbed at her presence. Kitty lies about her aunt having a nasty cold to force Gerald and his servant “William” (Michael Pate) to let her stay on the grounds despite repeated pleas not to, especially since there are sinister rules in place like being locked into one's room at night and staying away from THE MAZE, a large, ominous hedge labyrinth outside.

    THE MAZE was Allied Artists’ first film in 3-D, and the only such film for executive producer Walter Mirisch. THE MAZE was also the final film helmed by William Cameron Menzies, the visionary production designer turned director. Marlin Skiles provided the unreleased score.

     Posted:   Apr 7, 2023 - 10:12 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Walter Wanger produced and Walter Mirisch was the uncredited executive producer on RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11. In the film, inmates “James Dunn” (Neville Brand) and “‘Crazy’ Mike Carnie” (Leo Gordon) organize a takeover of cell block 11, managing to capture four guards. The prisoners have demands: a remodel of the block, elimination of leg irons, better treatment by the guards, and putting the mentally deranged in a psychiatric ward where they belong. “Warden Reynolds” (Emile Meyer) is sympathetic to their plights, and in fact has requested many of the same things from the legislature himself. However, the Governor and his emissary, “Commissioner Haskell” (Frank Faylen), want to take a harder stand on the prisoners, not letting them use the lives of hostages as bartering chips.

    Don Siegel directed the 1954 film. Sam Peckinpah broke into feature films with the picture, serving as a production assistant on the picture. Herschel Burke Gilbert provided the unreleased score, with orchestrations by Joseph Mullendore. The film was such a financial and critical success for Allied Artists, grossing $4.4 million, that they were able to book the film into theaters well into the late 1950s.

     Posted:   Apr 8, 2023 - 10:49 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Sidney Harmon produced, and Walter Mirisch and actor Cornell Wilde were uncredited executive producers on the crime drama THE BIG COMBO. The film found police lieutenant “Leonard Diamond” (Wilde) ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss “Mr. Brown” (Richard Conte) because Diamond hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. Instead, he goes after Brown's girlfriend “Susan Lowell” (Jean Wallace), who despises him, for information.

    Joseph Lewis directed this 1955 film noir, which is justly famous for its back-and-white photography by John Alton and its jazz score by David Raksin. Music scoring was done at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios.

    The film had below average grosses of $1.9 million, but still turned a profit on its $500,000 budget.

     Posted:   Apr 8, 2023 - 4:33 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Vincent M. Fennelly produced and Walter Mirisch was the uncredited executive producer on the 1955 historical drama SEVEN ANGRY MEN. The film focuses on abolitionist John Brown (Raymond Massey) and his six sons, and follows their involvement in Bleeding Kansas, a series of violent civil confrontations in Kansas Territory, and Brown’s leadership of the raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

    Charles Marquis Warren directed the film, which had an unreleased score by Carl Brandt. Debra Paget and Jeffrey Hunter were borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production, and Larry Pennell was borrowed from Paramount. Raymond Massey had also played John Brown in the 1941 Warner Bros. picture SANTA FE TRAIL. SEVEN ANGRY MEN was one of the poorer grossing films of the year, with a take of around $400,000.

     Posted:   Apr 9, 2023 - 12:44 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    Walter Mirisch worked again with director Don Siegel when Mirisch produced AN ANNAPOLIS STORY. The film told the story of two brothers, “Tony and James Scott” (John Derek and Kevin McCarthy) enrolled at the U.S. Naval Academy on the verge of the Korean War, who fall in love with the same girl—“Peggy Lord” (Diana Lynn).

    This was the first film advertised as “A Walter Mirisch Production.” Don Siegel was told that the picture was to be shot with a minimal budget, and given directions to use as much stock footage as possible. The picture contains considerable footage of real activities at the Naval Academy and onboard aircraft carriers. It additionally contains footage of jet maneuvers. Background footage was shot by Allied Artists at the Academy as early as the spring of 1952. However, sequences with the actors were filmed entirely on the studio’s backlot, and not on location. Marlin Skiles’ score for the 1955 film has not had a release. AN ANNAPOLIS STORY was one of the poorer grossing films of the year, with a take of around $400,000.

     Posted:   Apr 10, 2023 - 11:44 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    A written foreword in the opening credits of THE WARRIORS reads: "During the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, England and France fought a series of wars that lasted one hundred years. On both sides, the men who fought in these wars were, for the most part, completely and unselfishly dedicated to their respective causes. None was more devoted to his country than Edward Prince of Wales, known to history as 'The Black Prince,' England's greatest warrior of the period." Errol Flynn starred as Prince Edward in the film, marking his last appearance in a historical action film.

    In his autobiography, producer Walter Mirisch noted that Errol Flynn was difficult to deal with on the set because of his drinking problem. Originally, Flynn did not want to star in the film, since he felt at forty-five, he was now too old for swashbuckling roles. However, he badly needed money because he had just been declared bankrupt while filming THE STORY OF WILLIAM TELL (1953).

    The film was a joint production between Allied Artists and Twentieth Century-Fox. The studios agreed to co-produce the picture, along with the 1954 release THE ADVENTURES OF HAJJI BABA, while retaining distribution rights to separate territories. For THE WARRIORS, Allied distributed the picture in the Western Hemisphere, and Fox distributed it in the Eastern Hemisphere. The deal was advantageous for both companies, especially Fox, which was anxious to increase the immediate availability of CinemaScope pictures to guard against a shortage of this type picture in the foreign market as well as in the U.S.

    THE WARRIORS was shot at the studios of Associated British Picture Corp. in Elstree, England. Frequent 20th Century-Fox director Henry Levin helmed the film. The unreleased score was composed by Cedric Thorpe Davie and conducted by Louis Levy. The 1955 film was reported to be Allied Artists’ "first multi-million dollar" production, and probably broke even in the U.S. with a $2.2 million gross.

     Posted:   Apr 11, 2023 - 10:33 AM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    WICHITA is the fictionalized tale of Wyatt Earp (Joel McCrea) before he moved on to Dodge and Tombstone. In the film, Earp becomes the reluctant marshal of the town and upsets the town's leaders by outlawing all firearms except his own, which is bad for business. In real life, Earp was never marshal of Wichita, although he did serve on its police force for a time. He lost his job after getting into a physical altercation with a political opponent of his boss.

    Walter Mirisch was the credited producer on the 1955 film, which was directed by Jacques Tourneur. Hans J. Salter provided the unreleased score. Coincidentally, Salter later wrote music for a 1959 television series, “Wichita Town,” which also starred Joel McCrea (but as “Marshal Mike Dunbar,” not Wyatt Earp). WICHITA proved to be very popular, with a $6.9 million domestic gross. Allied Artists re-released the film in 1961.

     Posted:   Apr 11, 2023 - 10:36 PM   
     By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

    The credits for THE PHENIX CITY STORY are preceded by a thirteen-minute documentary sequence in which noted reporter Clete Roberts interviews several of the townspeople involved in the actual incidents that occurred in Phenix City, Alabama. The town was a den of iniquity ruled by gangsters who murdered enemies with impunity, whether they be men, women, or children. At the conclusion of the newsreel, the film's credits roll, followed by a written statement that reads: "There is no other place in the world as Phenix City, Alabama. For almost one hundred years it has been the modern Pompeii where vice and corruption were the order of the day. Unlike Pompeii it did not require a Vesuvius to destroy it, for Phenix City is now a model community--orderly--progressive--and a tribute to the freedom loving peoples everywhere."

    The newsreel footage of Roberts was offered to exhibitors at no extra charge, and did not have to be included when showing the picture. The film ran 87 minutes without the newsreel, and 100 minutes with it.

    Samuel Bischoff and David Diamond produced the film, with Walter Mirisch acting as uncredited executive producer. The film went into production so quickly that some of the criminals it was portraying were standing trial while filming was taking place. Phil Karlson directed the 1955 film. Such was Karlson's attention to detail that he had some of his actors wear the actual clothes of their screen counterparts. The filmmakers were harassed and threatened by criminals remaining in Phenix City, as well as citizens who opposed the exposé, but they were supported and protected by the Russell County Betterment Association. Harry Sukman provided the unreleased score. The film was extremely profitable, being produced for $350,000 and grossing $6.3 million domestically.

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