Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cinema Oddities :: The Madmen of Crown International Pictures.

Crown International Pictures was founded in 1959 by Newton P. "Red" Jacobs, a former regional distribution supervisor for RKO, who had already been a successful independent distributor for over a decade with his Favorite Films brand. But by the 1960's, Jacobs was ready to back his own films (-- starting with Coleman Francis' The Skydivers and continuing with about 1/3rd of Mystery Science Theater's back catalog), and to hedge his bet and save some money Jacobs also repackaged and retitled some older product, and also handled the domestic dubbing of several foreign releases (-- most notably, Toho's Varan the Unbelievable, and later, Sonny Chiba's masterful The Street Fighter). Then, in 1964, Jacobs struck a deal with Westhampton Film Corporation and Desilu Productions that raided Crown International's film archives for future TV syndication.

Now, one of B-Moviedom's greatest mysteries is the exact extenuating circumstances that led Crown International to take an old, paranoidal psycho-noir flick like Madmen of Mandoras and pad it out with some clumsy and highly anachronistic footage with all the skill of Jerry Warren, turning it into the much more recognizable -- but still extremely stoopid, They Saved Hitler's Brain. It's been well established that this footage was added to expand the original film's running time so it could be packaged for television, where we're supposed to buy that these people...

And these Mod Squad rejects...

And this little guy...

Were all part of the same movie.

It's often been rumored that the footage was provided by some UCLA film students, looking for an industry in, but this has never been officially substantiated (-- as far as I know). So, no one knows for sure who shot this footage, who was shot in the extra footage, or exactly when the extra footage was shot to begin with. (I've heard anywhere from 1968-1973.)

Alas, I have no answer to this particular conundrum. But what I do have to offer, and the real reason for this post, is some more clues that will probably do nothing to solve anything but only add even more confusion. For you see, the fine folks working at CIP's behest not only shot extra-footage for They Saved Hitler's Brain, but they also shot and added a whole new nonsensical subplot for another CIP import, a confusing and coma-inducing mystery filched from Argentina called Sócio de Alcova, transforming it into something called Carnival of Crime, where, once again, we're supposed to believe that these people...

And these people...

Are part of the same film.

And it was while watching said flick, as part of Mill Creek's Cult Terror Cinema package, when it abruptly switched from the story of an architect, who is suspected of malfeasance over the disappearance of his wife and his long and protracted attempts to find her, to two revolutionary jungle guerrillas/assassins whose purpose to the overall plot, aside from watching some monkeys fornicate and a plane blow up, was a little murky, that I recognized one of those boobs as being in both movies. Which is why, upon this realization, I shouted "Whoa! Hey! Waitaminute ...That's that idiot from They Saved Hitler's Brain."

Just have a look for yourself.

C.I.D. Agent, Vic Gilbert
They Saved Hitler's Brain

Unknown Assassin and Primate Enthusiast
Carnival of Crime

E'yup, that's the same guy.

And I'm also fairly certain that dude on the right is
the same dude who gets blown up at the beginning

of They Saved Hitler's Brain, pictured below.

And while sifting through the added footage I'm
still not convinced that this isn't Hugh Marlowe
doing somebody a huge favor.
Which can only leave one to wonder how many more Crown International hatchet-jobs these guys and their compadres showed up in. But I have a feeling that since BCI went tits up and Crown International's library wound up in Mill Creek's lap, famous for all those 50 movie DVD packs and Cult Cinema collections, we're all about to find out.

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