For Halloween 2018 and 2019, we brought you blog posts on The Killer Shrews and The Giant Gila Monster, two low-budget horror movies financed by Texas radio pioneer Gordon McLendon. This year, we shine a spotlight on the career of film director William Beaudine (1892-1970).
Beaudine, who began his career in the film industry in 1909, directed silent films (including shorts known as “one-reelers”), sound films and, beginning in the early 1950s, episodes of TV series, including The Mickey Mouse Club, Naked City, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Green Hornet, and Lassie.
What is his connection to the horror genre? His filmography includes The Ape Man (1943), Voodoo Man (1944), and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952), all of which starred Bela Lugosi. Additionally, Beaudine’s last two feature films were the notorious Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966) and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966), each part of the outré horror-western genre. Billy the Kid co-starred two veterans of John Ford’s westerns, John Carradine and Olive Carey. It is also worth noting that in that film, the vampire is never called “Dracula” and his opponent has virtually nothing in common with the historical Billy the Kid. Presumably, the film’s producers decided that the title Billy the Kid Versus Dracula had more “oomph” than “Cowboy Versus Vampire.”
The American Heritage Center has a small collection devoted to Beaudine. The collection, which was donated by Lucille Warden, Beaudine’s daughter, and Wendy Marshall, author of William Beaudine: From Silents to Television (2004), contains scripts and story outlines, as well as movie posters for one-reelers, including these films released in 1913: The Stolen Bride (Beaudine was an assistant on the film and also appeared in it, along with Lillian Gish), The Sheriff’s Baby (Beaudine, along with Lionel Barrymore, Harry Carey, and Donald Crisp, appeared in the film, which was directed by D.W. Griffith), Brothers (Beaudine, along with Harry Carey and Mabel Normand, appeared in the film, which was directed by Griffith), and The Lady in Black (Beaudine was an assistant on the film, which was written by Anita Loos).
Beaudine’s career as a director of horror films is also represented in the papers of Forrest J. Ackerman, the editor of the fanzine Famous Monsters of Filmland. That collection includes a still from The Ape Man and a poster for a double feature of the Billy the Kid and Jesse James movies.
You will also find the following on Youtube:
Full Feature Films:
The American Heritage has numerous collections devoted to various aspects of popular culture, including movies, comic books, and television.
Post by AHC Archivist Roger Simon (our resident film expert).