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A Entries
Forrest J Ackerman
Nick Adams
John Agar
Philson Ahn
William Alland
Irwin Allen
Woody Allen
Kirstie Alley
Gerry Anderson
Michael Anderson
Sylvia Anderson
Jack Arnold
 
ALLAND, WILLIAM
(1916–1997). American producer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Produced: The Black Castle (Nathan JURAN 1952); It Came from Outer Space (Jack ARNOLD 1953); Creature from the Black Lagoon (Arnold 1954); Tarantula (Arnold 1954); Revenge of the Creature (and story) (Arnold 1955); This Island Earth (Joseph NEWMAN and Arnold, uncredited 1955); The Creature Walks among Us (John Sherwood 1956); The Mole People (Virgil Vogel 1956); The Deadly Mantis (and story) (Juran 1957); The Land Unknown (Vogel 1957); The Colossus of New York (Eugene LOURIE 1958); The Space Children (Arnold 1958); World of Giants (tv series) (1959); The Creeping Terror (Sherwood 1964).

Acted in: The Devil and Daniel Webster (William Dieterle 1941); Macbeth (Orson Welles 1948).

 
When John Baxter was researching his pioneering study, Science Fiction in the Cinema (1970), he understandably wanted to find some heroes to focus on; so, properly schooled in the director-as-auteur theories of the French film critics, he went looking for directors. Then, noticing that one man had directed several of the most striking science fiction films of the 1950s, Baxter found Jack ARNOLD, who has subsequently been rediscovered and enshrined as a major figure in the history of the genre.

But if an improperly-schooled Baxter had decided to look for producers to serve as his heroes (on the grounds that, one might argue, they are often the true masters of science fiction films), he surely would have found William Alland. After all, with the exception of The Incredible Shrinking Man, Alland was the producer of all of Arnold's noteworthy films, and his films employing other directors include two marvelous productions, This Island Earth and The Colossus of New York, as well as other capable efforts. Of course, there are also a few embarrassments in his résumé, but the same is true of Arnold.

Alland began in radio, working for Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre, and followed him to Hollywood to play the reporter in Citizen Kane (1941), for which he seems best remembered today. However, after appearing in a few more films, including Welles's Macbeth, Alland gave up acting to become a full-time producer in the 1950s. At least in the case of This Island Earth, which I have studied at length, Alland was an active, hands-on producer who kept an eye on all aspects of the production, demanded script revisions to eliminate an unwanted political subtext, and called upon Arnold to direct the climactic Metaluna scenes when novice director Joseph NEWMAN didn't seem up to the task. He also insisted on the incongruous inclusion of the monstrous Mutant, to the chagrin of everyone else involved in the film, but he undoubtedly felt that having such a colorful alien available for publicity pictures would help at the box office, as it probably did. Indeed, "reasonably dignified science fiction films with a monster to attract the kids" would serve as a good general description of the best films he made with Arnold, It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Tarantula, Revenge of the Creature, and The Space Children, as well as his films with other directors. Certainly, the unique and powerful This Island Earth must be regarded primarily as a producer's triumph; The Colossus of New York is a hypnotically involving morality play involving a dead scientist brought back to life as an immense robot, driven by an emphatic score and a father-son relationship sensitively explored by screenwriter Thelma Schnee; The Deadly Mantis and The Land Unknown are unpretentious and entertaining exemplars of, respectively, the giant insect film and the dinosaur film; and The Creature Walks among Us has effective moments, although it is generally a lesser film than its Arnold-directed predecessors—not due to inferior direction, however, but because the decision to transform the Gill Man into a land creature wrested him away from the chillingly poetic aquatic environment of his earlier appearances. Of all of Alland's productions in the 1950s, only the lethargic horror film The Black Castle and the inane underground adventure The Mole People are completely indefensible.

However, as the 1960s approached, Alland's career fell apart. After a forgotten venture into television, he chose to produce and direct a lame teen-exploitation film starring Paul Anka, Look in Any Window (1960), then somehow got involved with The Creeping Terror, regularly and properly denounced as one of the worst science fiction films ever made, featuring a ludicrously unconvincing alien menace whose story is told entirely by tedious narration because the film's soundtrack was lost. At the relatively young age of fifty, Alland then apparently vanished from the public record until his death thirty years later. I have searched the Internet for more information on his career, but online databases that routinely provide detailed biographies and filmographies for even the most undistinguished actors and directors never provide comparable information on producers. Such attention, one supposes, is only given to heroes.

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