Elég legyen már Ed Wood-ból! Bár kétségtelenül említésre méltó alakja a B-filmek panteonjának (és nem, nem ő csinálta minden idők legrosszabb filmjeit) Wood csak az -angórával borított- jéghegy csúcsa. Íme a tíz B-film színész, akivel tisztában kell lenned, ha a műfajról akarsz beszélgetni:
1. William AllandThere might very well have been no sci fi films to write about were it not for William Alland's efforts. Beginning as one of Orson Welles' Mercury Players, Alland was the unseen reporter who spearheaded the search for Rosebud in Citizen Kane. Turning to production in the 1950s, Alland conjured up many of the most influential genre films in history. He co-created the Creature From the Black Lagoon and developed It Came From Outer Space before farming the screen treatment out to Ray Bradbury. He produced The Colossus of New York, The Deadly Mantis, The Mole People, The Land Unknown -- nearly every significant Universal fantasy release of the decade. While peers like George Pal and Jack Arnold took the bows, Alland quietly moved on to other things.
2. Edward BerndsWhile Ed Wood is celebrated ad nauseum as the worst of filmmakers, and William Castle's gimmickry continues to fascinate, Ed Bernds committed the cardinal sin of turning out respectable films on a consistent basis. This journeyman covered a lot of ground. He began by directing some of the very best Three Stooges shorts (Curly's last and Shemp's first). He helmed a fistful of the Bowery Boys' poverty-stricken comedies as well as a Blondie film or two. His sci fi outings require addressing, if only for their audacity. You can't top Queen of Outer Space for kitchy lunacy. World Without End is ambitious and earnest. Space Master X-7 is, at the very least, interesting, while Valley of the Dragons is, admittedly, forgettable.
3. Paul FreesYou've probably heard the voice of Paul Frees whether you know it or not. From Boris Badenov to The Pillsbury Doughboy, Frees' unmistakable timbre fell on American ears for decades. His voice-over chores on countless sci fi and fantasy film trailers is enough to place him squarely on our list. Add to that his appearance in one of the genre's finest offerings, The Thing, and his association with fantasy film producer George Pal. He was the voice of the aliens in the classic Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and, significantly, produced and directed the JD schlock classic The Beatniks, featuring Tony Travis and Peter Breck.
4. Alex GordonThe fact that Gordon co-wrote two of Ed Woods' early efforts (Jail Bait and Bride of the Monster) would be enough to ensure his pedestal in the B film Hall of Fame. But Alex also produced a batch of eminently watchable Bs, each spotlighting his benevolent habit of casting fading or forgotten film stars in significant supporting roles. Perhaps his best-known film, The She Creature, features former superstar Chester Morris, smoothie Tom Conway and comic Swede El Brendel. Atomic Submarine features Conway, as well as former matinee cowboys Bob Steele and Dick Foran. Gordon also offered a plum role in Voodoo Woman to George Zucco. Alex knew going in that Zucco was, by then, far too ill to accept, yet he made the gesture in an effort to bolster the fading actor's spirits.
5. Allison HayesHer B film immortality was assured by her appearance in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, arguably the best-remembered schlock film of the 50s. Her turn as the towering, vengeful wife, stalking through town clad only in a bed sheet, is unbeatable B movie entertainment. 50 Foot Woman aside, Hayes was a fine actress, a talented concert pianist and a one-time Miss America contestant. Her smouldering, razor-sharp features were seen to great advantage in a host of Bs -- The Undead, Gunslinger, Disembodied, The Hypnotic Eye -- all benefiting from her sensual presence. Allison's career was abbreviated by illness, but fortunately not before she'd secured a place as one of B movies most formidable femmes.
6. Thomas Browne HenryOne fantasy film fixture absolutely essential to the genre's success is the unflappable authority figure. Generals, admirals, scientists and teachers were all embodied by some of the very best B movie actors, Morris Ankrum and Whit Bissell prominent among them. Thomas Browne Henry may have performed the service more than any other actor. His hawkish features and preponderant scowl were well-used in films like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Blood of Dracula, Brain From Planet Arous, Space Master X-7, 20 Million Miles to Earth and The Thing That Couldn't Die. This is not to mention his fine work in "A" films like Julius Caesar, My Man Godfrey and Deadline U.S.A. Henry continued the tradition in episodic television, lending credibility to shows as diverse as Perry Mason and Bewitched.
7. Jack KevanWhile Hollywood's first family of film make-up, the Westmores (Perc, Wally, Bud, et al.), received the accolades, Universal Studios artists like Kevan, who worked beneath them, were rarely if ever credited. Kevan is responsible for perhaps the 50s' most distinctive, recognizable and flat-out scary monster, the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Working from William Alland's original idea, Kevan fashioned a uniquely functional, wholly believable Gill Man that his fright-film contemporaries could scarcely compete with. Some years later, Kevan teamed with Irv Berwick to produce the shoddier, but stubbornly memorable Monster of Piedras Blancas.
8. Mantan MorelandSadly, there's just no way to discuss this talented performer without pressing a few political hot buttons. A remarkable African American performer, Moreland is tragically dismissed today as a groveling, Uncle Tomish stereotype. While characters portrayed by other black performers such as Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best were decidedly insulting, Moreland more often appeared as a savvy, wisecracking, albeit cowardly survivor. In fact, it's easy to imagine any of Mantan's lines being spoken by Lou Costello or Shemp Howard, both white performers. Moreland was easily the best thing about tacky shockers like King of the Zombies and Revenge of the Zombies, and he's one of the few reasons to watch Monogram's tired Charlie Chan entries. For a precious few minutes, he even enlivens Jack Hill's neo-cult hit Spider Baby.
9. Irving PichelAn assured and effective character actor as well as a serviceable director, Pichel is often overlooked by B film historians. He gives riveting performances in two bona fide fright-film classics -- Murder By The Clock and Dracula's Daughter -- not to mention movie mug shots in films as diverse as Torture Ship, Dick Tracy and Oliver Twist. As a director, he may be best known for filming George Pal's breakthrough Destination Moon as well as Cooper and Shoedsack's seminal quickie Most Dangerous Game. In addition, Pichel directed a pair of definitive films noir -- Quicksand and They Won't Believe Me. All exhibited a degree of inventive, if workmanlike flair.
10. Bruno Ve SotaVe Sota may be best known as one of Roger Corman's irregular troop of players, turning up in films like The Undead and The Wasp Woman. But Bruno traveled the breadth of the B film community, working with some of it's more influential, sometimes dubious movers and shakers. He appeared in a couple of schlockmaster Jerry Warren's more questionable cobble jobs, Creature of the Walking Dead and The Wild World of Bat Woman. He pops up in Curtis Harrington's Night Tide and the somnambulent oddity Daughter of Horror and for the notorious Arch Hall Sr. he was a slovenly junk yard proprietor in The Choppers. In the midst of all this, Ve Sota found time to try his hand at directing. The Female Jungle, produced by Ve Sota's friend Burt Kaiser, was notable as Jayne Mansfield's first film appearance, while a lame, strained sci fi comedy called Invasion of the Star Creatures has precious little to recommend it. His best directorial work is easily The Brain Eaters, a tacky but effective thriller produced by actor Ed Nelson. But to most B film fans, Bruno will always be remembered as Yvette Vickers' pathetic, cuckolded husband in Attack of the Giant Leeches.