World of Westfahl | Encyclopedia Introduction | All Entries | Acknowledgements
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

G Entries
Frederic Gadette
Beverly Garland
Fred Gebhardt
William Gibson
Jeff Goldblum
Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Gordon
Bert I. Gordon
Peter Graves
Lorne Greene
Sir Alec Guinness
(Friedrich Oliver Gebhardt 1925–1972). Austrian writer and producer.

Wrote and produced: 12 to the Moon (story; screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen) (David Bradley 1960); The Phantom Planet (story; screenplay with William Telaak, Fred De Gorter, and William Marshall [uncredited]) (William Marshall 1961).

"Presented" American version of film: Space Men (Antonio MARGHERITI 1960).

Certain facts about Fred Gebhardt's life can be found in scores of sources: that he was born in Vienna, Austria in 1925; that he earned the above film credits in the early 1960s; that he later served as executive producer for Al ADAMSON's incoherent crime film Hell's Bloody Devils, mostly filmed in 1967 but released in 1970; and that he died in Los Angeles in 1972 at the young age of 47. But there seems to be no other biographical information available about this elusive figure, so we do not know when and why he made his way from Austria to California, how he got involved in making science fiction films, why his involvement in films was so brief, and what caused his very early demise. His sketchy record raises the suspicion that filmmaking was only an interlude in a life otherwise dedicated to some very shady activities, which could also explain why he died young, but it is equally possible that he was a devout Christian who dabbled in the Devil's business before resolving to devote the rest of his life to the Lord. If a family member or friend could contact me to provide some facts to replace these speculations, it would be greatly appreciated.

In the interim, we must evaluate Gebhardt primarily on the basis of the two, extremely strange films that he wrote and produced, 12 to the Moon and The Phantom Planet. Evidently the work of someone who was not familiar with the genre, they both seem discordant mixtures of half-remembered borrowings from earlier films, highly original if scientifically idiotic ideas, gestures toward realistic depictions of space travel, and a solemn intent to embed serious messages within childish plots. They are also cheaply made and badly acted, so they were naturally ridiculed by Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, but they do have one virtue: if you are watching these films for the first time, you will be unable to predict what will happen next, and amidst scores of films which are content to follow well-worn paths, this in itself merits some praise.

12 to the Moon is the better of his two films, due to its singularly bizarre story and its admirable progressive values (did his family flee Austria to escape from Nazism?): its first flight to the Moon is an international endeavor with crewmates from all over the world, unusually including an African and a Muslim; a Polish astronaut resents his Russian crewmate because the Soviets dominate his country, yet they still work together; and the two space travelers who team up in an effort to rescue North America from a ridiculous "freeze" implemented by the lunar inhabitants are an Israeli and the son of a German war criminal. The tiny inhabitants of the planetoid Rheton in The Phantom Planet are also pacifists at heart, even though they face the prickly problem of vicious aliens eager to attack them. However, it is hard to be inspired by noble sentiments when they arise within such relentlessly ludicrous stories, and these films surely did not achieve anything resembling financial success, which may have provoked Gebhardt to seek some other way of making a living. It is finally interesting to realize that both his Moon people and his Rhetonites are determined to remain unseen and mysterious, perhaps anticipating the status that Gebhardt himself would seek to achieve, and certainly did achieve, during the last decade of his life.

To contact us about encyclopedia matters, send an email to Gary Westfahl.
If you find any Web site errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to our Webmaster.
Copyright © 1999–2014 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art