Saturday, October 3, 2009

The John Agar Hypno-Cube

Yep. Made it myself. Actually made two of them, one for Jeff Osier as a apartment housewarming gift after he got engaged to Cathy Van Patten. Just like Pepsi & Coke or Oreos & Hydrox, there was John Agar & Richard Denning, when it came to the monster movies of the 50s. Denning was in the first Creature film, Agar the second. Earlier tonight, I was telling Capcom about two failed attempts (and maybe rightfully so, as they were circa 1980), STEAMROCK JOHNNY and NOWHERE MEN, which both had roots in the Industrial Age. The second was wholly my baby, and basically it was about six scientists who averted a disaster in 1883 by folding into timespace so that no one ever knew they existed. And what does this have to do with John? And, sure thing, I can call him John. I'd have to call Denning Mr. Mayor as he became Mayor of Honolulu and even married Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr's gal in THE WOLF MAN. But I digress. All over the place.

I knew John Agar. We spoke on the phone and when his arthritis became bad, his wife Virginia wrote me letters that he dictated until she died. I plain out confronted him in 1996, telling him in a letter that I wanted to ghostwrite his autobiography. He married Shirley Temple. He was in SANDS OF IWO JIMA (and ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, to which I say...SO?) His family owned the Agar cured ham business up on the north side. John told me flat out that his life wasn't important enough to write about. He suggested I simply write my own book. I told him that it would be his words that were more important. And I held to that. He never budged. And then he died. And I wrote an article on his film career for SCARY MONSTERS. Back in the day, Harry Fassl and I would do the Denning-Agar war of words, but Harry would always concede that even though John did some pretty wacky movies, in fact, some were remakes of Richard Denning films, an example being THE SEVENTH PLANET, there was nothing wrong with a nice giant spider movie. I miss John Agar, and I'll be bringing one of his films up during this month of monsters. Also, I will continue Universal Monsters Monday in two nights, it seemed best to do things right in October.


HemlockMan said...

When I was a kid, I always knew that if Denning or Agar were in it, then I'd have a good time watching.

Charles Gramlich said...

A wide range of film projects there. Puppet people sounds good to me.

Richard J. said...

And don't forget Agar was also in two of John Ford's best westerns, "Fort Apache" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." Yes, I said that before, but he was good in those films.

I liked him in Sid Pink's "Journey to the Seventh Planet," an oddball film if there ever was one. I had to buy the DVD because I wasn't sure if I hadn't dreamed some of my memories of that film (and was traumatized by that godawful pop song they threw over the end credits). But oh, the memories weren't dreams after all -- and they burn. They burn!

And he had a good part in Roger Corman's "The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre," an underrated film that, like a few others made in the late '50 and early '60s, stands in marked contrast to a lot of the later exercises in gangster mythology.

I've said this before (all of it, I probably could have just copied and pasted this from an older comment, if I knew how to find it), Wayne, but I really wish Mr. Agar had listened to you and did that autobiography. I'll bet he had a zillion stories he didn't share with many, and It would have been great to have them written down somewhere.

Lana Gramlich said...

Attack of the puppet people??? Lordy!

Capcom said...

Ditto Hemlock. :-)

LOL Richard! I'm going to find that DVD. Similarly, I always thought that the song "Look For A Star" (which is a really nice '60s ditty) made "Circus of Horrors" even more creepy.

Poor Shirley, didn't Agar drink a bit too much when they were married? They were a bit mismatched I think. That's awesome that you knew him Wayne and too bad that he didn't let you write for him, it would have been a great story.