Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My latest HuffPost Blog("3 More Intriguing Factoids")

Dr.Franklin Ruehl,Ph.D.

3 More Intriguing Factoids From the Sci-Fi/Horror/Mystery Genre!

Posted: 02/ 8/2012 11:39 am

Were Ingrid Bergman and Edward G.Robinson offered choice roles in "The Planet of The
Apes?" Did noted film noir producer Val Lewton make a grave error in 1943's "The Seventh Victim?" Was strongman Steve Reeves ever cast as Tarzan?

These are 3 engrossing film factoids from the sci-fi/horror/mystery realm that we now divulge:

- "Planet of the Apes" (1968) factoids: Ingrid Bergman rejected the role of the chimp physician Xira, with Kim Hunter then ably handling the part. Bergman later acknowledged that she came to regret her decision! Veteran actor Edward G.Robinson shot some scenes as the orangutan scientist Dr. Zaius, but, due to heart trouble, was physically unable to handle the role, which went to Maurice Evans. Although there were no seating restrictions during meal periods, actors portraying chimps, gorillas, and orangutans naturally gathered with their own species! No female actors portrayed gorillas or orangutans, only chimpanzees.

Ruehl Fact: Rod Serling created the twist "Statue of Liberty" ending, with astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) suddenly realizing that he is back on earth. In the novel, the astronauts had landed on a different planet ruled by apes, but author Pierre Boulle asserted that he preferred Serling's surprise to his own conclusion.

- In 1942's Val Lewton classic, "Cat People," psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd (Tom Conway) was clearly killed by the Cat Girl (Simone Simon). But, in Lewton's 1943 film, "The Seventh Victim," Dr. Judd, again essayed by Conway, returns in pefect health! Either they should have worked in some explanation as to his survival or simply given him another name.

Ruehl Fact: Tom Conway and his brother, George Sanders, were born in St. Petersburg,Russia to British parents. The family name was Sanders, so Tom became Conway. They worked together twice on film: in 1942's "The Falcon's Brother," Sanders, tired of the "Falcon" role after just 3 entries, suggested that his real bro replace him in the series, so his character, Gay Lawrence, was killed off in this 4th episode with his screen brother, Tom Lawrence, vowing to continue his anti-crime crusade, which he did for the next 9 Falcon films.

In 1956's "Death Of A Scoundrel," possibly Sanders' finest work, he turned his brother, Tom, over to the Communists in exchange for passage to America and as punishment for stealing his wife.

- Steve Reeves, the bodybuilder extraordinaire, gained a reputation as star of a long series of Italian sand-and-sword epics, ably portraying such notables as Hercules, Romulus, Phillipides,Glaucus, and Sandokan. But, why was he never cast as Tarzan, a role he appeared born to play?

Well, it turns out that at the very outset of his career, in 1949, he essayed the role of a Tarzan clone in a made-for-TV serial, "Kimbar of the Jungle." As with Tarzan, he wore a loincloth, swung through trees, and had a loyal chimpanzee companion! The 1st chapter was entitled, "The Lion Men of Tanganyika," and co-starred Virginia Hewitt, soon to become a regular on TV's "The Space Patrol."

However, unlike a typical serial, where the opening chapter was usually around 20 minutes to allow ample time to introduce the characters and develop the plot, this episode lasted under 12 minutes. Worse, it was the only chapter produced, perhaps because adequate financing was not forthcoming, so we will never know if Kimbar escaped from the lethal clutches of the Lion Men! For the record, this is not even included in his IMDB profile.

Unfortunately, Reeves severely dislocated his shoulder when his chariot crashed into a tree while filming "The Last Days of Pompeii" in 1959. While he continued to work despite excruciating discomfort, the malady ultimately forced him to retire in 1968 at just age 42. He died from lymphoma at age 74 in 2000.

Ruehl Fact: Steve Reeves was not related to George Reeves, star of TV 's "The Adventures of Superman," whose given name was actually George Brewer!

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