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Jon Hall - A Biography

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2009

Films starring Jon Hall on (re)Search my Trash

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If you don't know who Jon Hall was, you can be forgiven. In the late 1930's and 40's (and on television in the 1950's), Hall was a star alright, but he wasn't a star because he was such a great actor - he actually wasn't too strong in that department - but because he was a symbol of a certain kind of escapism that was extremely popular especially in wartime USA, he was the male hero in quite a number of exotic adventure-romances that usually starred either Dorothy Lamour or Maria Montez opposite him and that told larger-than-life love stories and fantastic tales in faraway countries that were full of action and adventure - and were usually shot in breathtaking and suggestive Technicolor - in other words exactly what an audience in a country at war wanted to see in the moviehouses. And accordingly, when World War II had ended, Jon Hall's star started to fade until his career was given a new boost only by television, where formulaic stories not too far from his most successful movies reigned supreme in the 1950's.

 


 

Early Life, Early Career

 

Jon Hall's heritage and early life suggests he was born to do just what he did later on, so much so that at least some of it sounds made up by some studio's ad department rather than anything else.

Hall was born Charles Felix Locher in Fresno, California in 1915 to Swiss Felix Locher (who depending to reports was either a world champion iceskater or an inventor, and who actually turned to acting only way past retirement age) and a Tahitian princess. His uncle was writer James Norman Hall, who (together with Charles Nordhoff) did not only write Mutiny on the Bounty but also The Hurricane, the book Hall's breaktrhough movie (see below) was based on. Jon Hall grew up tall and strong in Tahiti and eventually became the island's swimming champion.

 

Eventually, Jon Hall made it back to California (where he was born), met, fell in love with, and married singer Frances Langford in 1934. The marriage would last until 1955.

In 1934, Langford was just on the verge of becoming the radio- and moviestar she is now known to have been, but when she landed her first role in a feature film one year later - a supporting role in the George Raft-starrer Every Night at Eight (1935, Raoul Walsh) -, Hall also had his first bit parts in movies like Women Must Dress (1935, Reginald Barker) and Here's to Romance (1935, Alfred E.Green), and a bigger role in Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935, James Tinling) starring Warner Oland. Back then, he wasn't billed Jon Hall though but by his real name Charles Locher.

 

Back in the mid-1930's, it wasn't a bad idea for swimmers to come to Hollywood, as swimchamps Johnny Weissmuller [Johnny Weissmuller bio - click here] and Buster Crabbe [Buster Crabbe bio - click here] had both just kickstarted their careers turning in successful performances as Tarzan, and following that, actors of muscular built were in high demand. And speaking of Buster Crabbe: There is a rumour that Jon Hall was actually screen-tested for Crabbe's later signature role Flash Gordon - though it is not known if he was ever seriously considered ...

 


The comparison with Weissmuller and Crabbe is also interesting inasmuch as, just as these two, Jon Hall had his first lead role in a film based on a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs (even if it was no Tarzan-novel): The Lion Man (1936, John P.McCarthy) - and with some justification, several critics labelled The Lion Man Tarzan of the desert, since the similarities are striking: Like Tarzan, Lion Man's lead character El Lion (Hall of course) lost his parents at a young age, grew up in the wilderness (desert instead of jungle) guarded by savage beasts (with lions replacing apes), and now is a self-appointed protector of justice of almst superhuman strength. 

 


However, Hall's desert adventure was produced by small-time studio Normandy Pictures on the cheap, was sloppily directed, features none of the exotic locale the story asks for, and even the lions can only be seen in a few shots where they don't interact with human actors - and thus, The Lion Man caused little more than a ripple in the movie world and did little to further Hall's career.

 


In fact, after The Lion Man, it was right back to supporting roles for Jon Hall, like appearances in the B-Westerns The Mysterious Avenger (1936, David Selman) - which featured an early appearance by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers [Roy Rogers bio - click here] - and the John Wayne starrer Winds of the Wasteland (1936, Mack V.Wright) [John Wayne in the 1930's - click here], or the less-than-perfect serial The Clutching Hand (1936, Albert Herman).

In fact, by 1936 Hall's career seems to have been going to nowhere in particular to such an extent that he underwent a name-change - he called himself Lloyd Crane from now on - and nobody seemed to notice much. Likewise, the two films he made as Lloyd Crane, the Charles Ruggles-comedy Mind Your Own Business (1936, Norman Z.McLeod) and the mystery The Girl from Scotland Yard (1937, Robert G.Mignola), are hardly worth a mention.

 


 

The Hurricane and Dorothy Lamour

 


In 1937, Hall finally got the chance to act in a film that seems to have been tailored for him (and he changed his name to Jon Hall for it), John Ford's The Hurricane. In this film, a lavish South Seas tale, he plays a naive native who is unjustly thrown into prison, but he defeats the odds and after a myriad of attempts succeeds to break out and return to his wife (Dorothy Lamour), and he proves himself to be a righteous enough man in the end, when he saves not only his family but also the wife (Mary Astor) of his enemy (Raymond Massey) from a hurricane that (in a stunning setpiece) destroys the whole island.

Sure, neither was Hall's role too demanding nor does he make too much attempts to rise it above the level of mediocrity, but Hall's native was never supposed to be a multi-layered character role but demanded an actor with somewhat exotic good looks (and remember, Hall was of half-Tahitian descent), who has an appealing torso (he's topless for most of the film), and who can swim like a fish (after all, he was Tahitian swimming champion, right?). And that Hall's uncle James Norman Hall had co-written the book Ford's film was based on can't have hurt either ...

 

Hall's thespian limitations however are off-set by a great cast of supporting actors incluging Raymond Massey, Thomas Mitchell, C.Aubrey Smith and John Carradine [John Carradine bio - click here] at his most despicable, plus the film features outdoors camerawork that is simply as great as you would expect it to be from a South Seas-based movie that puts an emphasis on the exotic aspects of the story.

 

A few word about Jon Hall's leading lady Dorothy Lamour: Her performance is about as bland as Hall's, however, her role is even more limited, she gets very little to do other than to stare longingly into the distance. Similar to Hall, she was only at the start of her moviecareer. Only the previous year did she get her first big break in The Jungle Princess (1936, William Thiele), the film that would typecast her for jungle girl and island girl movies (or sarong-movies, taking their name from Lamour's textile choice in these films) for pretty mucht the rest of her career - and of course, The Hurricane was one such movie. However, Lamour would soon prove her talents in comedy especially in the Road to ...-series starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, starting with Road to Singapore (1940, Victor Schertzinger) - in which she plays yet another island girl.

 

After having shot to fame with The Hurricane ... Jon Hall took a three-year career break. Now that might sound stupid, but one has to understand that Hall never saw acting as a vocation but a means for making money, and money he did make with Ford's film ...

 

In 1940, Jon Hall returned to the big screen with Sailor's Lady (Allan Dwan), a so so B-comedy with a nautical theme in which Hall plays the titular Sailor, Nancy Kelly plays his girlfriend, and Dana Anddrews and Buster Crabbe [Buster Crabbe bio - click here] are also featured.

In Sailor's Lady, Jon Hall wasn't exactly a fish out of water (after all, he would play sailors quite frequently in his career), but with his next film, South of Pago Pago (1940, Alfred E.Greene), he returned to more familiar terrain, namely the South Seas. Without ever reaching the quality of The Hurricane, this movie tries to recreate its mix of exotic action, adventure and romance, with Hall once again playing a naive islander. This time, Frances Farmer plays his love interest, and Victor McLaglen can be seen as the baddie.

 

After South of Pago Pago, Jon Hall tried his hands on the Western genre playing the titular character in Kit Carson (George B.Seitz), but the Western was a genre a man of Hall's slightly exotic good looks just wasn't cut out for, plus he lacked the charisma to properly come off as tough guy ... so it should hardly come as a surprise that Hall next starred in yet another film set in the South Seas, Aloma of the South Seas (1941, Alfred Santell), in which he once again plays an islander, which once again ends in a natural disaster (this time a volcano eruption and an earthquake), and in which his love interest is once again played by Dorothy Lamour. Again, this film cannot compete with The Hurricane, and one can't fail to notice a formula starting to emerge in Hall's films ... a formula his next film, The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942, Charles Vidor), somewhat spoofs. Yet in all, the film, which stars Charles Laughton, is too harmless and good-natured to come off as a good parody.

 


After that, and with the USA having just entered World War II, Jon Hall went to war as well - in the movie Eagle Squadron (1942, Arthur Lubin). The film's actual lead is Robert Stack, and so the film would be of minor importance to Jon Hall's career - wasn't it for the fact that it was his first film with Universal, the studio that would produce almost all of Hall's films while on the height of his career.

 

Before Hall's career hit its all-time high though, Universal tested his potential in a film of the Invisible Man-series, Invisible Agent (1942, Edwin L.Marin), which transplanted H.G.Wells' character into World War II. The outcome is nothing more than a silly propaganda movie that wastes Peter Lorre [Peter Lorre bio - clck here] as a Japanese baddie (in a film primarily set in Germany), but Jon Hall is able to keep up with the plot acting-wise so that he would not only land the lead in another Invisible Man-film, Invisible Man's Revenge (1944, Ford L.Beebe) two years later but also get roles in bigger and better Universal-productions ...

 


 

Maria Montez (and a bit of Sabu)

 


Of course, the heads at Universal were neither oblivious of Jon Hall's previous successes and of his limitations as an actor, but the good-looking, well-built exotic hero-type was just what they needed for their next film, the escapist adventure Arabian Nights (1942, John Rawlins). Hall's role of the rightful and righteous caliph wronged out of his throne was pretty much as bland as all the naive, lovesick islanders he had played in earlier movies, but he wasn't the actual attraction of the film anyways, it was the lavisl colours of Technicolor (Arabian Nights was Universal's first film shot in that process), its exotic psuedo-Arabian sets and its wildly romantic adventure plot - which was exactly what the war-weary audiences were looking for in moviehouses those days.

Universal had also found the congenial screen partner for Jon Hall: Maria Montez. Originally a model of Spanish and Caribbean descent, Ms Montez could not really act, her accent was too strong for most mainstream fare, and even her dancing skills were limited (though she plays a dancing girl in Arabian Nights) - but she was exatly right for the exotic adventures she was about to shoot with Jon Hall: She had an exotic aura around her, a fiery temperament that had to be tamed, she looked great as the damsel-in-distress (and she was in distress very often in her films), and what she lacked in dancing skills, she made up in revealing outfits. And of course she was very beautiful and had sex appeal that couldn't even be fully contained in the a tad childish adventures she starred in. She probably didn't possess half of Dorothy Lamour's acting  talent, but her looks and charisma perfectly complimented Jon Hall's usually a bit too clean-cut hero.

 

The actual top-billed star of Arabian Nights however was neither Hall nor Montez but Sabu. Sabu was an Indian-born juvenile actor who back then after the success of both Thief of Bagdad (1940, Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan) and Jungle Book (1942, Zoltan Korda) was at the height of his popularity. And he was of course just right for this Arabian fantasy, not only because his experience in Thief of Bagdad, but also because of his unmistakably exotic looks and accent, and his agility, that is put to good use in Arabian Nights, as it was in his earlier films.

 

In all, Arabian Nights served the perfect recipe for audiences of its day, from story to cast, from sets and settings to costumes and colours, and it was the perfect formula that drove the masses into the movie theatres - yet Arabian Nights is not a film that stands the test of time: Its story is rather clumsily told, lacks all fantasy elements the title alone would suggest, the nominal lead Sabu is reduced to play cupid in the half-baked love-story between Hall and Montez, and the plot's adventure elements are continually outweighed by the romance aspects of the story as well as some mediocre comedy. Sure, the film is still high camp, but not half as enjoyable as other comparable films from its period - including some of the later Hall-Montez collaborations.

 

My criticism notwithstanding of course, Arabian Nights became a big hit at the box office, so another film starring the trio Hall-Montez-Sabu was rushed into production and released theatrically only 4 months later, White Savage (1943, Arthur Lubin). This time, Hall plays a shark hunter and Montez the princess of an island where Hall wants to hunt but is forbidden by the island's law. Sabu is a native boy who arranges a meeting between Hall and Montez, and of course the two gradually fall in love. Turhan Bey, who was also in Arabian Nights, and Sidney Toler in Oriental makeup were also on board of White Savage. And if anybody had any doubts if Universal were trying out a formula to fit Jon Hall and Maria Montez into with Arabian Nights, White Savage would be able proof of that ... and the audience was more than willing to embrace this formula, and thus White Savage became another big success for the studio.

 


For the next Hall-Montez spectacle, Sabu was left behind, even though the film moved back into Arabian Nights territory: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944, Arthur Lubin), a very free retelling of the classic tale. Like the earlier two films of the duo, it's an escapist adventure full of romance and intrigue in wonderful Technicolor that gave the audience exactly what it wanted and expected, but not an ounce more.

 


After Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Jon Hall strayed from the flock for a bit, took a break from the series and moved over to Paramount to play a supporting role in a Ginger Rogers-musical, Lady in the Dark (1944, Mitchell Leisen), but it was before the year 1944 was half over that he returned to Universal and to Maria Montez to star in what is probably the best of the Hall-Montez-picutres, Cobra Woman (1944, Robert Siodmak).

 


Cobra Woman is of course no masterpiece, but other than the previous films of the cycle, it puts an emphasis on not only exotic settings and romance but also on mystery, fantasy and adventure, features a bunch of quite impressive sets, an enjoyable and enjoyably silly South Seas-set story about snake people, human sacrifices and a good-twin-bad-twin constellation, and veteran Siodmak also knows how to use the Technicolor process to properly create atmosphere and not just drown everything in fancy colours. The outcome is not necessarily a movie to be taken seriously, but a piece of pure and highly enjoyable gem - and one of Kenneth Anger's favourite films by the way, if that says anything about the film.

By the way, Sabu was on board on Cobra Woman once more, but it would remain his last film with Hall.

 


After above-mentioned rather weak Invisible Man's Revenge, Jon Hall and Maria Montez teamed up yet again for Gypsy Wildcat (1944, Roy William Neill), which was a bit of a departure from the familiar formular inasmuch as it was not some romance/adventure hybrid set somewhere in the Orient or the South Seas but a swashbuckler set in an indeterminable time period in Europe. Maria Montez plays the Gypsy Wildcat of the title of course while Jon Hall is the dashing hero and as such a bit of a wannabe-Errol Flynn. To say Gypsy Wildcat would be a total departure from the typical Hall-Montez formula would be quite an exaggeration though, it's just not exactly what you've come to expect from the couple.

 

Jon Hall's next film, San Diego, I Love You (1944, Reginald Le Borg) on the other hand is much more a departure from what one has come to know and expect from him, a screwball comedy in which Hall plays a reclusive millionaire whom Louise Allbritton desperately tries to sell one of her father's inventions. But to be honest, pretty much everyone in the cast is funnier and has funnier situations to master than Jon Hall. Buster Keaton [Buster Keaton bio - click here] can be seen in this one in a supporting role by the way. Oh, and there is no Maria Montez in this one.

 

Maria Montez was back at Jon Hall's side in Sudan (1945, John Rawlins), a romance/adventure romp set in Ancient Egypt and bare of any historical accuracy. Instead it has Hall and Montez going through the motions in unfamiliar yet not all that unexpected settings, aided once again by Turhan Bey, this time playing Hall's friend yet rival for Montez's affections - who in an unexpected twist gets Montez in the end -, and the villainy is provided by George Zucco [George Zucco bio - click here].

 

Sudan is no better or worse than the bulk of the Hall-Montez collaborations, yet it would remain their last film together. Basically, the novelty of these films and of Technicolor as such had just worn off, and the end of World War II, with the return of a large male audience segment from the front, hardened by wartime experiences, meant a change in audience tastes of course.

Maria Montez, whose acting range was extremely limited, stuck around in the USA for a while and made a few more escapist adventures - including one more with Sabu, Tangier (1946, George Waggner) -, with diminishing success, before she moved to Europe, where production of escapist adventures that had just fallen out of favour with the American audiences was beginnig to find a footing. In 1951 though, she was found dead in her bathtub in Paris, France, and she possibly drowned after suffering a heart attack.

Hall remained in America, but like Montez's, his career went downhill, though he tried to revive it ever so often - with alternating success, but more about that below.

 

What remains of Hall and Montez's body of work are not great films, but gems when it comes to pure camp, movies that would take you to exotic fairytale worlds that were almost entirely manufactured at the Universal-backlot (and thus invariably had a colourful but unreal look to them), stories bare of historical accuracies that are even untrue to their sources (if there were some), but that have simply sprung from their scriptwriters' imagination, which are only limited by the films' comparatively low budgets. Seeing these films today, it's no wonder they appeal especially to the gay community ... though everybody will be able to enjoy them to some degree provided one takes them for the silly pieces of escapism they are ...

 


 

Decline and Comeback(s)

 

With the audience no longer being interested in the dreamteam of Jon Hall and Maria Montez and their subsequent split, Universal did not drop their erstwhile top leading man right away but tried him out in a handful of other vehicles:

  • Men in her Diary (1945, Charles Barton) is essentially a comedy tailored to fit singer/dancer Peggy Ryan (even though she neither sings nor dances), and in it, Hall plays her boss whose marriage to Louise Allbritton gets into jeopardy because of Ryan's made-up diary entries.
  • The Michigan Kid and The Vigilantes Return (both 1947, Ray Taylor) are pretty much your run-of-the-mill B-Westerns, with Hall in the lead failing to fully convince.

Eventually, Jon Hall moved over from Universal to Columbia, which had a few well-sounding projects for him in the pocket:



  • Last of the Redmen (1947, George Sherman) was based on Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, in which top-billed Hall doesn't get to play Hawkeye though but the rather secondary role of Major Duncan Heyward. Michael O'Shea is Hawkeye by the way, while Buster Crabbe finds himself in a rather unexpected role, playing evil Indian chieftain Magua [Buster Crabbe bio - click here].
  • In Prince of Thieves (1948, Howard Bretherton), Jon Hall actually got to play Robin Hood.
  • Finally, with The Mutineers (1949, Jean Yarbrough [Jean Yarbrough bio - click here]), Jon Hall returned to the sea, playing a sailor trying to catch a counterfeiter ring and clear his dead friend's name.

As interesting as these projects might sound on paper though, one has to bear in mind that they were all produced by Sam Katzman, a - shall we say - cost-conscious producer, and thus the resulting films were not exactly amazing, with neither Last of the Redmen nor Prince of Thieves being among the more well-known adaptations of their source materials.

 

After above trio of films, Hall would leave Katzman and Columbia for a while to do some free-lancing for smaller studios, with limited success ...

  • His film Zamba (1949, William Berke) for Conn Pictures, a movie about a boy (then child actor Beau Bridges) striking a friendship with a gorilla (Ray Crash Corrigan [Crash Corrigan bio - click here]) is actually among the weakest junge/gorilla movies ever made.
  • Deputy Marshal (1949, William Berke) for Lippert is little more than another misguided attempt to find a footing in B-Westerns.

On the Isle of Samoa (1950, William Berke), a Columbia-production, would take Jon Hall back to the South Seas again. In this one, he plays a crook who, while on his escape by plane, crashlands on an island paradise and now tries to persuade the natives to build an airstrip so he can return to civilisation again. The island girl is played by the less-than-exotic 1950's B-heroine Susan Cabot in this one - but she sure is no Dorothy Lamour or Maria Montez. Also, the film's black-and-white is no match for the wonderful Technicolor of Hall's Universal-epics.

 

Still, his performance in On the Isle of Samoa must have been well enough for the heads of Columbia (and made them enough money) to cast Jon Hall in a handful of other adventure films that were reminiscent of his earlier successes (without matching them in quality): 

  • China Corsair (1951, Ray Nazarro) sees Hall as a down-on-his-luck sailor who gets mixed up with pirates led by beautiful Lisa Ferraday through no fault of his own.
  • In Hurricane Island (1951, Lew Landers), Jon Hall is part of an expedition searching for the Fountain of Youth in the Forida swamps led by (historical character) Ponce de León (Edgar Barrier) in the early 1500's.
  • Last Train from Bombay (1952, Fred F.Sears) is a Indian-set spy adventure, and definitely not one of the better ones.

Apart from these adventure yarns, Jon Hall was also in a couple of B-Westerns produced by Columbia during the early 1950's, the despicably titled When the Redskins Rode (1951, Lew Landers) and Brave Warrior (1952, Spencer Gordon Bennet), but they are hardly worth a mention ...

 









 

Having been pigeon-holed early in his career and having shown little efforts to escape typecasting ever since, it must have come as a bit of surprise that in 1952, 15 years after his breakthrough with The Hurricane, Jon Hall finally managed to shake his so far prevalent image of the island boy/adventurer/sailor and become someone else - at least on the small screen.

 

Of course, from his roles so far it wasn't too big a step to becoming Ramar of the Jungle (1952-54), the jungle doctor who gets into an exciting jungle adventure week after week for two seasons, and several of the situations in this series were actually borrowed from his earlier films (which often borrowed these situations from elsewhere to begin with), but in all, Ramar was a character independent enough from his former work Hall was qickly identified with, and even though he back then still wasn't too much of an actor, he was able to give his character some dignity and sincerity.

 


Ramar of the Jungle was probably one of the more entertaining jungle adventure series of the 1950's, inasmuch as it at times mixed horror (e.g. Lady of the Leopards), science fiction (e.g. Dark Venture) and whodunnit (e.g. Voice of the Past) motives with its more customary jungle adventure stories, was shot by B-movie veterans Sam Newfield, Spencer Gordon Bennet, Wallace Fox and Paul Landres, and it even moved from Africa to India for half a season, just to add change to the proceedings. Also the persistent use of black actors in prominent roles is more than some other African-set jungle adventure series of the time could claim for themselves. Sure, the black actors, first and foremost Nick Stewart as Ramar's guide, were usually shown in subservient roles, but even that was quite an achievement for its time.

 


After Ramar of the Jungle finished in 1954 after just two seasons, Jon Hall took another three-year break from acting before returning with Hell Ship Mutiny (1957, Lee Sholem, Elmo Williams), a Republic production [Republic history - click here] that Hall partly financed himself, not only to kickstart his career once more but also to advertise his newly formed underwater movie equipment rental business - and as an actor who had been in numerous South Seas adventures and island girl movies who was a champion swimmer on top of that, he was of course the perfect spokesperson for a business like this. Hardly surprisingly then, Hell Ship Mutiny was more than a little reminiscent of Hall's former hits from The Hurricane onwards, also because the emphasis on underwater scenes pretty much came with the plot.

That all said, Hell Ship Mutiny, a film in which hero Hall saves a tribe of natives in the South Seas from a gang of greedy baddies led by The Hurricane's John Carradine [John Carradine bio - click here] pales in comparison to Hall's earlier efforts, which is at least partly to blame on the film's low budget, lack of Technicolor (the film was shot in black and white) and lack of a competent leading lady (Roberta Haynes as island girl sure enough was no Dorothy Lamour or even Maria Montez). At least Peter Lorre [Peter Lorre bio  - click here] as fake commissioner gives an amusing performance though.

And by the way, this was the acting debut of Felix Locher, Jon Hall's father who by the time this was made was already 75 years of age. He would launch a prolific career as a character actor with this one though that lasted until his death in 1969.

 

In 1959, Columbia, Hall's part-time home during the early 1950's, produced another South Seas adventure starring Hall, Forbidden Island (Charles B.Griffith), in which he plays a skindiver searching for a hidden treasure, but with Hall now in his mid-40's, he was getting a bit old for this sort of role ...

 


The next few years saw Hall doing nothing acting-wise apart from a few guest appearances in TV-shows. It wasn't until 1965 actually that Jon Hall returned to the big screen, and in a movie he not only starred in (in a bad guy role, actually) but also directed: The Beach Girls and the Monster.

With some justification one could call the beach party films that especially AIP produced very successfully a evolutionary continuation of the island girl-movies Jon Hall had starred in throughout his career. Sure, the most heroic deed the heroes of this new breed of films were doing was ride their surfboards, and sure the locale was suddenly less than exotic and the island girls were homegrown and have switched their sarongs for bikinis, but in their own very modest way, the beach party films were as escapist as the island girl films before them, were putting an emphasis on scantily clad women (and usually more than one) and showed a certain fascination for the sea. And that these new films were comedies rather than dramas was just a way to better meet the (teenage) audience's tastes. Now I'm of course aware that there are at least as many reasons as to why the beach party movies are not the continuation of Hall's island girl films, but in the context of The Beach Girls and the Monster that's completely besides the point.

 

If beach party fims were cheap versions of island girl films though (which weren't necessarily expensive to begin with), then The Beach Girls and the Monster was a cheap version of a beach party film, using only a very small number of less-than-fancy sets, offering little in terms of action (apart from the obvious surfing footage), and the monster shown is among of the silliest and cheapest looking creatures of the 1960's. That all said though, the film in which maritime scientist Hall dresses up as a monster to kill his way through the surfing crowd to keep his son from their influence, is great fun.

To noone's real surprise, the film was not a great success (though it might have made its money back) as it was as bad as it was underbudgeted, and a silly script didn't help much either - but it has since become a favourite with the trash movie crowd ...

 

After The Beach Girls and the Monster, Jon Hall retired from acting (very much unlike his father, see above), and apart from the occasional underwater photography on films like the eco-documentary Survival of Spaceship Earth (1972, Dirk Wayne Summers) he had retired from the film industry.

 

In 1979, Hall had surgery from bladder cancer, surgery that unfortunately was not quite the success it was supposed to be. He was in pain and bed-ridden for most of the time afterwards, and in December of the same year he decided to end his agony and shot himself. He was 64. His last public appearance, only a few months before his death, was of all things at the premiere of the (now long forgotten) 1979 film Hurricane (Jan Troell), a remake of his breakthrough hit.

 

To claim that Jon Hall had any lasting effects on film history would be nothing short of an exaggeration, but many of his films as well as his TV-series Ramar of the Jungle can be seen as mirrors of their time and great pieces of nostalgia, and despite or because of all their inconsistencies, their camp style, their budgetary restraints, their narrative shortcomings, they attract new audiences even today.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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