B.C. movie time capsule: 6

Vancouver feature films (1972-75)

Published: Dec 31 2013, 01:01:am

Prepared for Chuck Davis and The Vancouver Book — August,  1975

[PART 6: 1972 - 1975]

 (Feature films produced in whole or in part in and around Vancouver)

MASTER OF IMAGES (fantasy-comedy, colour, 1972): w./p./d. Byron Black; ph. Yoshi Yoshihara; l.p. Byron Black, Lulu Ulul, Neils Ashby, Bill Rykers, Tony White, Randolph Thomas. A young woman (Ulul) with an ailing karma flees the city and falls in with a group of similarly troubled individuals. Together they respond to the influence of a puckish, unseen Master (Black).
    World premiered with considerable fanfare at West Broadway's independently-owned Hollywood Theatre, director Black's eccentric, essentially plotless feature was intended as a drug-mystic cult film. A Vancouver dadalst and film artist, Black doubled as a spiritual guru for the counter-cultural community.

IN PURSUIT OF . . . (romance-comedy, color, 1972) w./p./d. Richard Walton; ph. Kelly Duncan; l.p. Rex Owen, Cecilia Smith, Celine La Freniere. Private girls' school mates (Smith, La Freniere) learn about life and love in this comic love story with an uplifting moral.
    Filmed around Jericho's Spencer mansion. Richard Walton was a successful American businessman who said that he always wanted to make a movie. He came to Vancouver, did so, and neither the director nor his film have been heard from since.

I HEARD THE OWL CALL MY NAME (drama, colour, 1973): p./d. Daryl Duke; w. Gerald DiPego, based on Margaret Craven's novel; l.p. Tom Courtenay, Dean Jagger, Paul Stanley, Marianna Jones, George Clutesi, Keith Pepper, Margaret Atleo. A compassionate Anglican bishop (Jagger) sends a young priest (Courtenay) to minister to a Kwakiutl First Nations parish in a remote B.C. village. Both the priest and the native culture are dying.
     This U.S. made-for-TV movie was broadcast as a Christmas special. Among the Vancouver sites used in the film was Christchurch Cathedral.

ONE MINUTE BETORE DEATH (horror, colour, 1973): p. Enrique Torres; d. Rogelio Gonzales; w. Enrique Torres; ph. Leon Sanchez; l.p. Wanda Hendrix, Giselle McKenzie, Barry Coe, Maray Ayres, Pia Shandel. When her son (Coe) goes mad following his wife's murder, a grieving mother (McKenzie) feels compelled to put him out of his misery.
     Filmed simultaneously with . . .
THE OVAL PORTRAIT (horror, colour, 1973): p. Enrique Torres; d. Rogelio Gonzales; w. Enrique Torres, based on The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe; ph. Leon Sanchez; l.p. Wanda Hendrix, Giselle McKenzie, Barry Coe, Maray Ayres, Pia Shandel. A woman (Hendrix), who visits an old house following the U.S. Civil War, is haunted by its previous occupant (Ayres), whose tragic story is told by the housekeeper (McKenzie).
    This was an attempt to establish links between the domestic film industries in Canada and Mexico. The two films were made at the same time, using the same cast, crews, sets and costumes, all under the direction of the Mexican production company that made The Naked Man in Barkerville [noted in Part 3]. Winnipeg-born pop singer Giselle McKenzie made her feature film debut in them. Lacking Canadian financial participation, future projects failed to materialize.

SEXCULA (porno-comedy, colour, 1973): p. Clarence Neufeld; d. John Holbrook; w. David Hurry; ph. John Goode; l.p. Debbie Collins, Jamie Orlando, John Alexander, Tim Lowrey. A sex-mad scientist, Fellatenstein (Orlando), constructs Frank (Alexander), a generously-equipped monster designed to satisfy her desires. When Frank fails to function she consults her cousin, the vampire Sexcula (Collins). Together they contrive to arrouse Frank's interest.
    This was an attempt to forge ties with the emerging U.S. pornographic film market with a locally-made sex feature. Although its producers failed to make a formal distribution arrangement, a print of their feature was stolen and is rumoured to be in circulation in the U.S.

SUNSHINE (drama, colour, 1973): d. Joseph Sargent; w. Carol Sobieski; l.p. Christina Raines, Cliff DeYoung, Meg Foster, Brenda Vaccaro. A young mother (Raines) discovers that she has an incurable cancer. Rather than allow her leg to be amputated, she decides to die whole.
    A U.S. made-for-TV feature, it was released theatrically in Vancouver and overseas. Though not specifically set in Vancouver, Raines is seen to live in Kitsllano and seeks treatment both at the Vancouver General and St. Paul's Hospitals.

CHRISTINA (mystery, colour, 1974): w./p. Trevor Wallace; d. Paul Krasny; l.p. Barbara Parkins, Peter Haskell, James McEachin, Marlyn Mason. A mysterious beauty (Parkins) offers an unemployed engineer (Haskell) $25,000 to marry her. Once the deed is done she disappears, setting off a search.
    Unlike Groundstar Conspiracy, produced for Universal, this second Wallace feature project was wholly financed in Vancouver. Parkins, a U.S. citizen currently [1975] living in Britain, was born in Vancouver.

DOGPOUND SHUFFLE (musical-comedy, colour, 1974): w./d. Jeffrey Bloom; ph. Michael Reed; l.p. Ron Moody, David Soul. Two down-and-out entertainers (Moody, Soul] work a posh society party to raise enough money to get their dog out of the city pound. Also known as SPOT.
    Directorial debut for screenwriter Bloom, this U.S. feature, made on Vancouver locations, was lost in the shuffle among studio regimes and ultimately released to television.

THE HOLY ASSASSIN (fantasy, colour, 1974): w./p./d. Byron Black; ph. Yoshi Yoshihara; l.p. Byron Black, Lulu McMovie, Joan MacIntyre, Fred Flores, Bob Turner. Shipwrecked on Earth, a metaphysical criminal from another dimension attempts to adjust to life in the local hippie community.
         Director Black's second feature, this followed his uncommercial Master of Images (1972).

THE WOLFPEN PRINCIPLE (drama, colour, 1974): p. Werner Aellen; w./d. Jack Darcus; ph. Terry Hudson, Hans Klardie; l.p. Vladimir Valenta, Laurence Brown, Doris Chilcott, Alicia Ammon, Tom Snelgrove. A movie house manager (Valenta), who is a former concentration-camp inmate, is fascinated by the wolves at the Stanley Park zoo. He joins a mystically-inclined Indian boy (Brown) in a plot to free them.
    Though a featured player in his native Czechoslovakia (Closely Watched Trains), this was the doleful Valenta's first starring role in a Canadian-made movie. (He had a supporting role in Tom Shandel's Another Smith for Paradise.) Scenes were shot in West 10th Avenue's Varsity Theatre.

JOURNEY INTO FEAR (adventure-drama, colour, 1975): w./p. Trevor Wallace; d. Daniel Mann; ph. Harry Waxman; m. Alex North; l.p. Sam Waterston, Yvette Mimieux, Vincent Price, Donald Pleasence, Joseph Wiseman, Shelley Winters, Stanley Holloway, Zero Mostel, Scott Marlowe, Ian McShane. Put under the protection of the Turkish police after an attempt on his life, an American oil engineer (Waterston) boards a freighter bound for Italy by way of Greece only to discover that his Intended assassin is on board.
    Producer Wallace's second and most ambitious Vancouver-financed project, Journey Into Fear is an updated adaptation of Eric Ambler's novel, and a remake of Orson Welles's 1941 feature. In every case, Vancouver interiors complemented location exteriors.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE (crime-drama, colour, 1975): d. Lou Lombardo; w. Tom Ardies, Stanley Mann, Arnold Margolin, based on the novel Kosygin Is Coming by Tom Ardies; l.p. George Segal, Christina Raines, Bo Brundin, Denholm Elliott, Richard Romanus, Gordon Jackson. An RCMP corporal (Segal) foils an elaborate plot to assassinate Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin during an official visit to Vancouver.
    Based on former Vancouver newsman Tom Ardies's novel, this Anglo-American co-production was the directorial debut of Lou Lombardo, the second-unit director on Robert Altman's Vancouver-made McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1970). Christina Raines had previously starred in the 1974 made-for-TV feature Sunshine (see above). Russian Roulette features a spectacular shoot-out on the roof of the Hotel Vancouver.

THE SUPREME KID (comedy-drama, colour, 1975): w./p./d. Peter Bryant; ph. Tony Westman; l.p. Frank Moore, Jim Henshaw, Don Granberry, Helen Shaver, Bill Reiter, Gordon Robertson, Terry David Mulligan. Two young drifters (Moore, Henshaw) meet a third (Granberry), who has high hopes of becoming a successful desperado. Their misadventures on the road lead to ultimate tragedy.
     Director Bryant was the first alumnus of the Simon Fraser University Film Workshop to complete a feature film.

The above is Part 6 of a seven-part restoration of a Vancouver Book article by Michael Walsh originally published in 1976. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

Afterword: Although 1972's In Pursuit of . . . remains unaccounted for in the historical record, Sexcula (1973) has returned from the undead. For many years the subject of rumour and speculation, a print of the film apparently ended up in an Archives Canada storehouse. Finally released on DVD in May 2013, the picture had its Vancouver premiere — a "Special 40th Anniversary Presentation" — on October 25th, 2013, at the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre.

B.C. Feature Films — Part 1 [Introduction; the Silents]; Part 2 [Outside Vancouver, 1932-38]; Part 3 [Outside Vancouver, 1942-75]; Part 4 [Vancouver, 1932-68]; Part 5 [Vancouver, 1969-71]; Part 6 [Vancouver, 1972-75]; Part 7, [Miscellany & Sources].