Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Aborted Doc Savage Movie of 1966

Doc Savage's co-creator, Lester Dent, retained radio, film and television rights to his character as part of his contract with Street and Smith Publications, original publishers of the Doc Savage pulp magazine. Although Dent succeeded in launching a short-lived radio program, he was never able to interest Hollywood in a Doc Savage film. Upon his death in 1959, the rights reverted to his widow, Norma.

A production team led by Mark Goodson and Bill Toddman eventually announced their intention to produce a Doc Savage feature film to cash in on the popularity of the reissued pulp novels by Bantam Books and the James Bond craze sweeping the movies in the 1960's. The film would be based on the 1934 pulp novel The Thousand-Headed Man, and starring Chuck Connors (of TVs The Rifleman) as Doc, for a 1966 release.

Unfortunately, the producers and Conde Nast Publications, the new copyright holder of the Doc Savage brand, failed to secure the film rights from the Lester Dent estate. By the time the legal issues had been resolved, the production crew and cast had moved on to do an offbeat western, Ride Beyond Vengeance. Only the now rare, one-shot comic book movie tie-in published by Gold Key, with cover artwork by James Bama, remains to mark this aborted film undertaking.

It would have been nice to see this film come to fruition. My own picks for some of Doc's fellow adventurers are highlighted above: Noted character actors J.D. Cannon (of TVs McCloud) as Ham Brooks, Neville Brand (of TVs Laredo) as Monk Mayfair, Ray Walston (of TVs My Favorite Martian) as Long Tom Roberts and Fred Gwynne (of TVs the Munsters) as Renny Renwick. I don't really have a good pick for Johnny Littlejohn, but maybe some of you could make a suggestion.

Any takers? Comments?


Karswell said...

Agreed, the world could definitely use another Doc Savage movie, though the Ron Ely '75 version is pretty fun it does leave a tad bit to be desired.

Roddy McDowell might make a good Johnny Littlejohn. Or in a modern remake even Jeffrey Combs.

Chuck Wells said...

Roddy McDowell is a favorite of mine and if he was taller, I'd go with him, but like the other actors that I chose - - - I want to reflect as close to what I mentally picture with Doc's crew as I can.

Any thoughts on which actress from the mid-1960's could best assay Doc's "hot" cousin, Pat Savage?

Karswell said...

>if he was taller, I'd go with him

According to IMDb Roddy was 5'10'' which is pretty tall I guess, but then you posted that Herbet Anderson photo and he's definitely the primo choice.

For Pat how about Ursalla Andress, Britt Ekland, or Ingrid Pitt? If we wanna go further back I'd say Fay Wray of course.

Chuck Wells said...

Fay Wray would have made a terrific Pat Savage, but I had considered Ursula Andress for the time period and since you've mentioned her also, we'll go with Herbert Anderson as Johnny and her as our pick to round out the full cast of the "lost" Doc Savage film.

Karswell said...

>we'll go with Herbert Anderson as Johnny and her as our pick to round out the full cast of the "lost" Doc Savage film.

Great! When do we start filming?

Chuck Wells said...

I'll start working on a time machine asap, but it may take awhile.

Thanks for stopping by so often, Karswell.

Todd Pence said...

Here's my choice of 1960's actors to play the aide's to Chuck Conner's Doc:

Monk - Nehemiah Persoff
Ham - Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Long Tom - Robert Duvall
Renny - John Anderson
Johnny - Chad Everett

Doc said...

Now this may sound rather silly.
But I would say Wally Cox for Johnny in the 1960's thought I do like Roddy McDowell a lot.

surly hack said...

Good picks, Chuck.