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B Entries
Barbara Bain
Gene Barry
Wesley E. Barry
Martin Berkeley
Paul Birch
Whit Bissell
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David Butler
 
BARRY, WESLEY E.
(1907–1994). American actor and director.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Directed:  Creation of the Humanoids (and produced) (1962); The Jolly Genie (short) (and co-wrote with Lamar Criss) (1963).

Assistant Director: Ghost Chasers (William BEAUDINE 1951); My Mother, the Car (tv series) (1965–1966); The Love War (tv movie) (George McCowan 1970); The Last Child (tv movie) (John Llewellyn Moxey 1971); A Touch of Evil (tv movie) (Moxey 1971).

Acted in: Male and Female (uncredited) (Cecil B. DeMille 1919); The Night Life of the Gods (Lowell Sherman 1935).

 
By all rights, the story of Wesley E. Barry should be just another sad story about the Dark Side of Hollywood. Born in Los Angeles just as the movie business was taking off, he began getting jobs as a child actor—including an uncredited turn opposite Gloria Swanson in Cecil B. DeMille's silent version of J. M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton, Male and Female— and by the 1920 was enjoying a modicum of renown as a child actor. But like many other child stars when they approached adulthood, Barry soon it hard to find good roles, and he spent the 1930s scrounging for minor roles in soon-to-be-forgotten films, like the strained adaptation of Thorne Smith's whimsical tale of statues of Greek gods come to life, The Night Life of the Gods. By the 1950s, he had drifted behind the camera as a director, assistant director, and producer for a series of awful grade-Z westerns, and he finished his career working as an assistant director for similarly unprestigious television projects.

Only one little fact spoils this cautionary tale about the dangers of succumbing to the lure of bright lights and the big screen, only to fall into a lifetime of despair and degradation: somehow, between the tumbleweeds and television, he found himself directing a science fiction film entitled Creation of the Humanoids, a genuine artistic achievement and the only reason this entry exists. Sometimes described as an adapation of Karel Capek's R.U.R. and/or Jack Williamson's The Humanoids—although it isn't—the film claustrophobically portrays a post-holocaust world being rebuilt by increasingly restive robots constructed to assist the decimated human race; its scientist hero eventually learns that he is a robot himself, though with the new power to bear offspring, and the film's final line suggests that these robots are in fact the ancestors of humanity. Granted, the film's effects are lousy, the acting is terrible, and the pace is leaden— but this is almost uniquely a science fiction film fascinated with ideas, and determined to present those ideas, even if the only way screenwriter Lamar Criss could devise to convey them was through interminable dialogue; and Barry merits recognition for foregrounding those ideas in his direction, instead of inserting the sorts of fisticuffs and chase scenes that he had no doubt mastered in making all those westerns. The result is a film that seems like a faithful adaptation of an Isaac ASIMOV story, a narrative propelled by people standing around, talking about the plot, and trying to figure out solutions to the puzzles at hand; despite its threadbare inadequacies, the film doggedly demands attention and respect, one might say, for its childlike and sincere interest in its own subject matter.

Creation of the Humanoids, inevitably, wasn't exactly a big hit, and after following it up with a short film, The Jolly Genie, which nobody (including me) ever saw, Barry turned to television in search of a paycheck. As an assistant director, he probably had little creative input into his assignments, and it would be unkind to dwell upon the fact that his work involved two of the greatest disasters in the history of televised science fiction and fantasy, My Mother, the Car (voted the second-worst television series of all time) and the movie The Love War (memorably eviscerated by Harlan ELLISON in The Other Glass Teat). Barry already had too much to regret about his life in the film industry. One hopes that the last two decades of his life included regular viewings of Creation of the Humanoids, to remind him that there was at least one good result of his youthful decision to pursue fame and fortune in Hollywood.

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