Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weird Tales on Film

Leave It to Beaver

Who was the most famous reader of Weird Tales? You can make a case that it was Ward Cleaver, fictional father of Wally and Beaver in Leave It to Beaver. In a 1958 episode entitled "Voodoo Magic," Ward explains to June that there isn't anything wrong with the boys seeing a horror movie called Voodoo Curse. After all, he saw hundreds of horror movies when he was a kid. He also read Dracula four times. And he had a subscription to Weird Tales! One of television's greatest dads, shaped by Weird Tales!

Ward was of course played by Hugh Beaumont (1909-1982), a journeyman actor who had been in movies since 1940. Beaumont usually played either a serviceman or an authority figure such as a policeman, doctor, or minister. He was also in several genre films and TV shows, mostly Western and crime dramas. He played detective Mike Shayne in three quickies from 1946. Beaumont also appeared in an episode of The Adventures of Superman, called "The Big Squeeze" (1953). His science fiction films include Lost Continent (1951), The Mole People (1956), and The Human Duplicators (1965). By the way, no one should mistake Hugh Beaumont for Hugh Marlowe, another long-time actor who appeared in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956).

You can read more about Ward Cleaver and Weird Tales at a website called Television Terrors, here.

Lost Continent, from 1951, is a variation on the Lost World theme, used in countless tales by writers of fiction (and pseudoscience) and real-life adventurers. Hugh Beaumont played Robert Phillips.
The Mole People is based on a different theme from fantasy fiction (and again, from pseudoscience), the subterranean civilization or hollow earth. Readers of science fiction may have remembered the controversy over the Shaver Mystery, which had raged in science fiction circles in the late 1940s. Beaumont played Dr. Jud Bellemin and saw his name appear on the movie poster. Alan Napier by the way played Alfred the butler on Batman.
The Human Duplicators (1965) was Hugh Beaumont's last film. This time alien invasion is the theme.  Judging by this poster, Voodoo Curse would have been pretty mild fare compared to The Human Duplicators.

Thanks to MMH for the tip on Ward Cleaver as a reader of Weird Tales.
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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