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

M Entries
  Patrick Macnee
  Antonio Margheriti
  Chris Marker
  Hugh Marlowe
  William Marshall
  Arlene Martel
  Ross Martin
  Richard Matheson
  Sir Paul McCartney
  Roddy McDowall
  Leo McKern
  Lee Meriwether
  Ricardo Montalban
  Agnes Moorhead
  Billy Mumy
  Eddie Murphy
(aka Anthony M. Dawson 1930–2002). Italian director, writer, and special effects artist.

Directed: Space Men [Assignment Outer Space] (1960); Battle of the Worlds [Planet of the Lifeless Men] (1961); The Golden Arrow (1962); Horror Castle (and did special effects) (1963); The Devil of the Desert Against the Son of Hercules (1964); Castle of Blood (1964); Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964); The Long Hair of Death (and wrote with Ernesto Gastaldi and Tonino Valerii) (1964); The Wild, Wild Planet (and co-produced) (1965); Lightning Bolt [Operation Goldman] (1966); The War of the Planets (and co-produced) (1966); War between the Planets (and co-produced) (1966); The Snow Devils [Space Devils] (and co-produced and wrote with Renato Morelli, Ivan Reiner, Charles Sinclair, Aubrey Wisberg, and Bill Finger [the latter three uncredited]) (1967); Mr. Superinvisible (1970); Web of the Spider (and wrote with Giovanni Addessi, Bruno Corbucci, and Giovanni Grimaldi) (1971); Seven Dead in the Cat's Eye (and wrote with Giovanni Simonelli and Ted Rusoff) (1973); Fantasma en el Oeste (and wrote with Simonelli and Miguel De Echarri) (1976); Cannibal Apocalypse (and wrote with Dardano Sacchetti) (1980); Yor: The Hunter from the Future (and wrote with Robert D. Bailey and did special effects with Antonella Margheriti and Edoardo Margheriti) (1983); Treasure Island (tv miniseries) (1987); Alien from the Deep (1989).

Uncredited second unit director: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (and did makeup) (Paul Morissey 1973); Andy Warhol's Dracula (Morissey 1974).

Special effects: Shoot Loud, Louder… I Don't Understand (Eduardo de Filippo 1966);  Mission Stardust (uncredited) (Primo Zeglio 1967); 2001: A Space Odyssey (uncredited, with many others) (Stanley KUBRICK 1968); The Humanoid (with Ermanno Biamonte and Armando Valcauda) (Aldo Lavo 1979).

Appeared in documentaries: Kino Kolossal—Hercules, Marciste, & Co. (Hans-Jürgen Panitz and Inga Seyric 2000); Once Upon a Time in Europe (Manel Mayol and Carles Prats 2001); Cannibal Apocalypse Redux (2002).

He became known to American audiences in the 1960s as "Anthony M. Dawson," a pseudonym surely chosen to suggest that the Italian Antonio Margheriti was actually an American director; but no one could have been fooled, since American directors rarely direct films in which actors' lip movements do not match their dialogue. Still, whatever his nationality, American viewers soon came to appreciate his distinctive, if uncerebral, contributions to science fiction film.

While in his twenties, Margheriti first broke into the Italian film industry as a writer, but was soon earning directorial assignments. His first two ventures into science fiction—Space Men and Battle of the Worlds—arguably remain his best. The first is an unusually realistic look at humanity's future in space, with an inevitable menace—an out-of-control spaceship computer threatening to destroy the Earth—which is far less risible than those to come, while the latter involves a team of scientists confronting the more colorful threat of an enormous rogue planet approaching our planet. These films also feature the only noteworthy performances in Margheriti's films: Archie SAVAGE's veteran space pilot in Space Men, and Claude RAINS' irascible scientist in Battle of the Worlds.

Clearly determined to become an all-purpose Italian director, Margheriti was soon dabbling in all the necessary genres—sword-and-sandal epics, horror films, and action movies—but he then signed a contract to produce and direct the four science fiction films that, for better or worse, remain his most celebrated achievement. Generally described as the "Gamma Quadrilogy" because all the films employ Space Station Gamma as a setting, they seem more like two, two-film series distinguished (if that is the word) by different leading men: Tony Russel of The Wild, Wild Planet and The War of the Planets, who seems like a pretty lame hero; and Giacomo Rossi-Stuart of War Between the Planets and The Snow Devils, who makes Russel look good. Of the four, the one that is most often seen, The Wild, Wild Planet, is actually one of the weakest, with an unpleasant story about a mad scientist obsessively experimenting with human subjects, while the more palatable The War of the Planets foregrounds more conventional adversaries—invading aliens taking control of human subjects. The film that is least often seen, War Between the Planets, is actually the best in the series, a novel revision of Battle of the Worlds with an approaching planet that seems to be an enormous sentient being; and The Snow Devils is by far the worst of the lot—a dull, generally Earthbound saga of a trek through the Himalayas to confront the blue-skinned aliens who inspired legends of the Yeti, unredeemed by a last-minute venture into space.

It is these films that established the characteristic traits of a Margheriti film: handsome heroes, beautiful women, senseless plots, and stylish special effects. Indeed, viewers will be well advised to stop trying to figure out what is going on in these movies and simply appreciate their visual impact. Margheriti is especially inspired by scenes of spacesuited astronauts in space, which other films of this genre tend to avoid or minimize; his standout sequence is an elaborately choreographed New Years' celebration at the opening of The War of the Planets. Noting the frequently-visible wires supporting these astronauts, one might wonder why the meticulous Stanley KUBRICK asked him to handle the special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but that canny director could discern that his creativity in filming activities in space outweighed his technical shortcomings. And while I have no definitive information about Margheriti's actual, uncredited contributions to that landmark film, he was probably summoned to assist with the scenes of Bowman and Poole outside the Discovery, the part of 2001 that most forcefully displays Margheriti's influence.

As the 1960s drew to a close, and major American studios were increasingly making their own science fiction films, the market for imported productions dwindled, and Margheriti refocused his attention on the other staples of popular Italian films—crime dramas, horror movies, and an inordinate number of westerns, which sadly seemed to become his genre of choice. But he reconnected with American audiences on at least two occasions: Yor, Hunter from the Future, an odd combination of previous Margheriti patterns that might be described as Son of Hercules vs. Star Wars, and the Alien-inspired Alien from the Deep. Of possibly greater interest is his television miniseries Treasure Island, which long before Disney transplanted Robert Louis Stevenson's story into outer space, but like many of his later efforts, it is hard to find in America. He also employed his later films as to teach his children Edoardo and Antonella the tricks of the trade, and while they have continued working on films after Margheriti's death in 2002, none of their credits can match the addled magic of their father's films.

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 © 1999–2018 Gary Westfahl All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Hosted & Designed By:
SF Site spot art