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B 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
 
GORDON, BERNARD
(1918-2007). American writer.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Wrote as by Raymond T. Marcus: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (story Curt SIODMAK; screenplay with George Worthing YATES) (Fred L. Sears 1956); The Zombies of Mora Tau (Edward L. CAHN 1957); The Man Who Turned to Stone (Lászlo Kardos 1957).

Wrote as Philip Yordan: Day of the Triffids (Steve Sekely 1962).

Produced: Horror Express (Eugenio Martin 1973).

Appeared in video documentaries: 100 Years of Horror:  Sorcerers (1996); 100 Years of Zombies (1996); 100 Years of Horror: The Walking Dead (1996); 100 Years of Horror: Aliens (1996).

 
Okay, I'll admit it: Sam KATZMAN was not the greatest producer in the history of motion pictures, and he is a credible candidate as one of the absolute worst. But, if this volume is about nothing else, it is about giving devils their due, and the facts in this case are clear: in the 1950s, Bernard Gordon had been identified by the House Un-American Activities Committee as a Communist, and as such was unemployable as a Hollywood script writer, a questionable hire even under a pseudonym. In need of work, Gordon found there was precisely one producer willing to employ him—Sam Katzman. Yes, he had to use the pseudonym of Raymond T. Marcus, and yes, the assignments were not particularly desirable—an inane western (The Law vs. Billy the Kid [1954]) and three science fiction potboilers—but work is work, and the world is a better place because Gordon was conscripted to write science fiction films.

Granted, one cannot be sure how much the pyrotechnic pleasures of Earth vs. the Flying Saucers can be attributed to Gordon, as opposed to story-creator Curt SIODMAK and co-writer George Worthing YATES, and granted, I didn't find The Man Who Turned to Stone to be particularly exciting—with that title, how could it be? But The Zombies of Mora Tau is another matter indeed, a singular saga of underwater zombies which found its perfect director in reluctant schlockmeister Edward L. CAHN and remains to this day a film which will hypnotically fascinate viewers even though they will be compelled to acknowledge its manifest deficiencies as a work of art.

Still, one can reasonably assume that this was not the sort of assignment that Gordon was looking for, which is why he subsequently avoided the genre, with two meritorious exceptions. The Day of the Triffids, even though it contrived to evade the grim exigencies of John Wyndham's novel, is a much better film than published reports would suggest, and a film he produced, Horror Express, is one of those rare films featuring Peter CUSHING and Christopher LEE which is actually tolerable, and at times even interesting.  But one gathers that these films—interruptions in a general effort to resurrect his career by means of mainstream films, first as a writer and later as a producer—were not particularly satisfying to Gordon, who was mainly prominent in the last decades of his life as a vocal victim of the Hollywood blacklist and a vocal opponent of filmmakers like Elia Kazan who had willingly cooperated in its establishment. Perhaps his memories of betrayers like Kazan productively influenced his memorable portrayals of more fantastic enemies like invading aliens, zombies, and homicidal plants, the films he surely didn't want to write and, paradoxically, the only films he will even be remembered for.

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