Happy Birthday, Sam Katzman.

Sam Katzman
(July 7, 1901 – August 4, 1973)

The great B-movie producer Sam Katzman was born 120 years ago today.

In the photo above, Sam’s on the right with (L-R) Priscilla Presley, Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker). This was taken while Kissin’ Cousins (1964) was in production. Katzman produced two Elvis movies, this one and Harum Scarum (1965).

Incidentally, today is also Fred F. Sears’ birthday. He was one of the directors in Katzman’s unit at Columbia. Just recorded a commentary for the Katzman/Sears crime picture Chicago Syndicate (1955). Watch for it coming from Powerhouse in a few months.

4 Comments

Filed under 1964, Elvis Presley, Fred F. Sears, Sam Katzman

4 responses to “Happy Birthday, Sam Katzman.

  1. Bert Greene

    I’m rather fond of Sam Katzman’s “Victory Pictures” output, the company he operated in the mid-30s. The films are super-cheap, aren’t very heavily plotted, but they zip along nicely and usually feature a lot of location-work that captures the look and feel of their era. Films like “Taming the Wild” (1936), or the several Bruce Bennett (Herman Brix) films, like “Flying Fists” (1937). Always liked those. Under Victory, Katzman also released some agreeable (if rather minor) Tom Tyler and Tim McCoy westerns.

    Katzman’s serial output for Columbia often gets some flack (usually from staunch Republic partisans), but I think they are generally a bit better than their reputations. I have a rather nutty affection for “Mysterious Island” (1951), which admittedly is little more than 15 chapters of various factions running around in circles… the hero clan, some ornery natives, villainous pirates, and also an alien babe operating out of an island cave. I’d never proclaim it to really be a ‘good’ serial, but I find the darned thing so pleasantly relaxing, in a comfort-food sort of way.

    Hmm, “Chicago Syndicate” (1955)? I’d love to revisit that one.

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  2. Walter

    Bert, the Sam Katzman Victory Pictures Corporation movies are right down my lane when it comes to fun entertainment. The only ones that I’ve viewed are the “Lightning Bill Carson” movies starring Colonel Tim McCoy and the “Tom Wade” movies starring Tom Tyler and I like them. Yes, these no-budget programmers made Monogram Pictures look big budget, but that’s the appeal too me, which is making something out of almost nothing. Sam Katzman was a master at that. I’ll seek out some of these other Victory Pictures. You’ve piqued my interest.

    Have you ever run across the Sam Katzman production of A YANK IN INDO-CHINA(filmed 1951, released 1952)? I’ve been on the look-out for this rarity for years. This Vietnam War movie seems to have disappeared from the USA after 1975.

    CHICAGO SYNDICATE(filmed 1954, released 1955) is a good movie and I look forward to Toby’s commentary.

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    • Bert Greene

      Nope, never ran across “A Yank in Indochina” (1952), Walter. In fact, there are a number of those modest late-40s/early-50s Columbia titles that have managed to elude me all these years. Always assumed they were probably made available in some old tv-syndication package, which would allow 16mm prints to be floating around, but maybe some of them didn’t. The rarest titles seem to be the ones with the shortest running-times.

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      • Walter

        Bert, A YANK IN INDO-CHINA was available in tv-syndication by way of Screen Gems, which was Columbia Pictures’ tv-arm. This was from 1962 onward. Also, A YANK IN KOREA(filmed 1950, released 1951) was part of the Screen Gems tv-syndication. The last reference to A YANK IN INDO-CHINA that I can find, is that it was airing on tv in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1978-79. A YANK IN KOREA used to be aired by Ted Turner’s Atlanta SuperStation WTBS Channel 17, as late as 1980. There is, what looks like too me, a poor quality dvd for sale on eBay. It runs 73 minutes and A YANK IN INDO-CHINA runs 67 minutes, but no dvd, or vhs.

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