“Valley of the Dragons” (1961) was directed by veteran studio director Edward Bernds. Bernds also directed various Columbia short subject comedies with “The Three Stooges” (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Jerome “Curly” Howard from 1945 until Curly’s 1947 stroke and the Stooges’ 1947–1952 Columbia shorts with Shemp Howard). Bernds also worked on two latter Columbia “Stooge” feature-length productions with “Curly Joe” DeRita, “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules” and “The Three Stooges in Orbit” (both 1962). Bernds’ non-Columbia features include Allied Artists’ “Queen of Outer Space” (1958), with Zsa Zsa Gabor and the Twentieth Century Fox sequel to 1958’s “The Fly,” “Return of the Fly” (1959); with Vincent Price.
Before he went into the field of directing, Bernds started out as a Columbia Pictures sound engineer for Frank Capra’s acclaimed productions of “It Happened One Night” (1934) with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936) with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), with James Stewart, Arthur and Claude Rains.
Screenwriter Donald Zimbalist wrote the screen treatment for “Valley of the Dragons” and was inspired by Jules Verne’s novel, “Career of a Comet” (a.k.a., “Off on a Comet” and “Hector Servadac”) and the Hal Roach–Hal Roach Jr. production of “One Million B.C.” (1940, with Lon Chaney Jr., Victor Mature, Carole Landis and Conrad Nagel), according to Clive Hirschhorn’s passage on “Valley of the Dragons” in “The Columbia Story.” Veteran production executive Byron Roberts co-produced Bernds’ 1961 Columbia sci-fi/fantasy creature entry with Donald Zimbalist’s real-life father, executive producer Al Zimbalist.
This will mark Sven’s second big broadcast of “Valley of the Dragons” (1961) on Me-TV. He previously showcased Bernds’ 1961 Columbia production as a big broadcast premiere back in April 2019.
Who was in Bernds’ 1961 Columbia sci-fi/creature/fantasy feature?
The players who appeared in “Valley of the Dragons” (1961) were Joan Staley (as Deena; Staley later went on to greater fame for her role of Alma Parker in Alan Rafkin’s 1966 Universal ghost comedy with Don Knotts, “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken;” she also appeared as the villain “Annie Okie” alongside Cliff Robertson as the villain “Shame” in two episodes of the Adam West–Burt Ward “Batman” live action TV series in 1966, Staley later became a talent agent with her husband according to Mike Barnes’ tribute article on Joan Staley in The Hollywood Reporter), Cesare Danova (as Hector Servadac; apart from his various roles in film and TV, Danova went onto greater fame for his role of Mayor Carmine DePasto in John Landis’ 1978 Universal-National Lampoon mammoth campus comedy, “National Lampoon’s Animal House” with John Belushi, Karen Allen, Tim Matheson, Bruce McGill, Donald Sutherland, Martha Smith, Kevin Bacon and John Vernon), Sean McClory (as Michael Denning, McClory previously appeared in the role of Maj. Kibbee in Gordon Douglas’ 1954 Warner Bros. sci-fi creature thriller, “Them!” with Edmund Gwynn, James Whitmore, Fess Parker, James Arness and young Leonard Nimoy), Danielle De Metz (as Nateeta), Gil Perkins (in the dual roles of Tarn and a Doctor), Gregg Martell (as Od-Loo), Dolly Grey (as Mara), Mike Lane (as Anoka), Jerry Sunshine (as LeClerc), I. Stanford Jolley (as Patoo), Roger Til (as Vidal) and Mark Dempsey (as Andrews).
The “prehistoric exterior” set for “Valley of the Dragons” was recycled from a previous Columbia production
According to Richard Harland Smith’s article on “Valley of the Dragons” (1961) for Turner Classic Movies’ website, the “prehistoric exterior” set for Bernds’ 1961 production was originally created for an earlier Columbia adventure-drama feature, Mervyn LeRoy’s “The Devil at 4 O’Clock” (1960, with Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra and Kerwin Matthews). This was due in part to budgetary measures from Columbia executives.
Promotional theatrical “tie-ins” for “Valley of the Dragons”
According to an original 1961 Columbia Pictures exhibitors’ press kit, there were several tie-ins for theatrical exhibitors to promote the release of “Valley of the Dragons.” Some of the tie-ins included a “caveman”/”cavewoman” dress-up costume contest for theatergoers alliances with local natural history museums, tie-ins with local booksellers for copies of Jules Verne’s novels and mock “Dinosaur Crossing” signs for outdoor drive-in screenings of Bernds’ production.
“Valley of the Dragons:” Released in Great Britain under another title and latter Columbia Pictures British re-issue with an Italian horror film
Bernds’ 1961 Columbia production of “Valley of the Dragons” was released in Great Britain under the title of “Prehistoric Valley,” according to IMDB. The studio re-issued Bernds’ 1961 feature as a double-feature presentation in Great Britain with Antonio Margheriti (credited under the pseudonym of Anthony Dawson)’s Italian horror-thriller feature adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Castle of Blood” (produced in 1964) with Barbara Steele, according to a Columbia Pictures British theatrical exhibitors’ leaflet from the late 1960s.
“Valley of the Dragons” was not the only 1961 Columbia Pictures film adaptation of a Jules Verne novel
According to an issue of BoxOffice Magazine’s “Barometer” supplement for the 1961-62 motion picture release season, reporter Al Steen noted that “Valley of the Dragons” was not the studio’s only 1961 film adaptation of a literary work by Jules Verne. Columbia also co-produced and released the Ray Harryhausen–Cy Endfield–Charles H. Schneer adaptation of Verne’s “Mysterious Island” (1961, with Michael Craig, Joan Greenwood, Herbert Lom, Beth Rogan, Gary Merrill, Michael Callan and Harryhausen’s famed “Super-Dynamation” stop-motion creatures.
Be sure to watch Svengoolie’s big broadcast of “Valley of the Dragons” (1961), this Sat. on Me-TV!
With Joan Staley, Cesare Danova, Sean McClory, Danielle De Metz, Gil Perkins, Gregg Martell, Dolly Grey, Mike Lane, Jerry Sunshine, I. Stanford Jolley, Roger Til, Mark Dempsey with Brydon Baker’s “Monstascope” spherical lens widescreen (1.85:1) cinematography and surprise creature elements; you will not want to miss out on Svengoolie’s big broadcast of “Valley of the Dragons” (1961), this Sat. on Me-TV! A perfect sci-fi/adventure/fantasy treat for all fellow super SvenPals everywhere with Sven’s extra fun facts, Doug Graves’ parody song and Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment! You will not be disappointed! Highly recommended to all fellow super SvenPals from everywhere!
Joan Staley (1940-2019): In Memoriam
Today’s “Silver Screen Reflections” article on Svengoolie’s upcoming big broadcast presentation of “Valley of the Dragons” (1961) is dedicated in memory of Joan Staley (1940-2019). Staley died on Sun., Nov. 24 at the age of 79; according to Mike Barnes’ article in Deadline Hollywood. Me-TV has also published a retrospective article on the life and career of Staley. –C.H.
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3/Cable 196/FiOS 489/Antietam Cable 194 (also on QAM digital 68.6 for Antietam cable subscribers)
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Cable 208/FiOS 460
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248/FiOS 460
Live-tweet with all fellow super SvenPals (via Twitter) from coast-to-coast during #Svengoolie’s big Me-TV broadcast of “Valley of the Dragons” (1961) this Sat.!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Last day for the official Svengoolie /Me-TV online store Holiday coupon code sale! Dec. 3 marks the final day of the official Sven/Me-TV online store Holiday sale! All Sven and Me-TV items in the official Sven/Me-TV store are 20% off when you use the online coupon code “METVHOLIDAY” at checkout! All Sven, Me-TV and associated items are perfect gifts for (in order of the calendar of holiday observances) Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any other holiday/special occasion/celebration and/or birthday! And again, to quote the official famous Sven/Me-TV online store phrase from Sven, “no personal checks!” And only purchase authentic Sven/Me-TV and associated items from the official Sven/Me-TV online store!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago/Riverside/Lyons, Illinois and beyond! “Sventa Claus” is coming to town! Svengoolie/Sventa Claus will be making his Holiday/Christmas appearances, according to Sven’s official website! Sventa’s first Holiday/Christmas appearance for 2019 will be at the Comic Collector (3246 South Harlem Ave., Riverside, Illinois 60546) on Fri., Dec. 6 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. (local time)! As part of the “Holiday Stroll” festival in Riverside, Illinois; Sven/Sventa will be having a meet-and-greet photo and autograph session during his Comic Collector appearance in Riverside! Then, Sven/Sventa will be making a Holiday/Christmas appearance at the “Christmas Mystic Market” fundraiser event to benefit the Sacred Space Animal Sanctuary and Rescue! The “Christmas Mystic Market” event and fundraiser will be held at St. John’s United Church of Christ (4500 Prescott Ave., Lyons, Illinois 60534) on Sat., Dec. 7 from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. (local time)! A professional photographer will be on hand to take your picture with Sven/Sventa and Sven/Sventa will be also signing professional photos and Sven items! Note: According to the official rules, one item per person will be autographed. And there will be various gift and food vendors, a bake sale and more! Tickets can be purchased through the Eventbrite platform (tickets are $10-$12 online, $15 at the door). And ticketholders to the “Christmas Mystic Market” fundraiser event will have the chance to win a custom Sven doll! Purchase your “Christmas Mystic Market” tickets today before time runs out!
But wait! There’s more! For fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago and beyond who are attending the upcoming May 2, 2020 WDCB “Those Were the Days” 50th anniversary big Chicago vintage radio broadcast celebration with appearances by Sven’s alter-ego, Mr. Rich Koz; current “Those Were the Days” host and “Nostalgia Digest” publisher Steve Darnall, original “Those Were The Days” host Chuck Schaden, Trace Beaulieu of MST3K and “The Mads!” fame, Kevin Murphy of MST3K and “RiffTrax” fame, actress Patty McCormack of “The Bad Seed” fame; “Those Were the Days” announcer Ken Alexander, actor/writer Scott Lowell of Binge Networks’ “Adoptable” fame, Tim Kazurinsky of “Saturday Night Live” fame (1981-85) and live music by the Dooley Brothers and the West End Jazz Band! Discount early bird tickets are still available through WDCB’s official site and/or the official Eventbrite platform! Purchase your “early bird” tickets today before time runs out! Note: Ticket prices range from $45-$50. The 50th anniversary celebration event of “Those Were the Days” will occur on Sat., May 2, 2020 at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60630) from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (local time)!
Again, to the entire crowd of fellow super SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago/Riverside/Lyons, Illinois and beyond who are attending the upcoming Sven/Sventa Claus Dec. appearances for the Holiday season this week and the upcoming 50th big broadcast celebration of “Those Were the Days” on May 2, 2020; have fun seeing Sven/Mr. Rich Koz, Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy, Steve Darnall, Chuck Schaden, Patty McCormack, Ken Alexander, Scott Lowell, Tim Kazurinsky. the West End Jazz Band and the Dooleys in-person during the event! –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Cameo mention of a fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal! Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee will be having an upcoming Holiday edition of her Sat. morning Northwestern University Radio/WNUR radio show, “Jammin’ with Jamie!” Ring in the holiday season and jam along to Jamie’s upcoming big broadcast jam session cavalcade of Holiday/in order of the calendar of Holiday observances, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and winter tunes! Jamie’s live “Jammin’ with Jamie” big broadcast jam session cavalcade/serenade of Holiday jams begins this Sat., Dec. 7 at 6 a.m. Central/7 a.m. Eastern on the airlanes of WNUR-FM 89.3 in the greater Berwyn/Chicago/Evanston, Illinois listening region; from coast-to-coast, around the globe and throughout the universe on WNUR.org and on the TuneIn platform! If you have a favorite Holiday tune request to add to Jamie’s portfolio of Holiday jams, be sure to send your request nomination Jamie’s official Twitter site or Jamie’s official website before her big broadcast Holiday jam session cavalcade this upcoming Sat.!
Three cheers and two thumbs up to Jamie & the entire crowd of fellow super “Jammin’ with Jamie” jammers and fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals from coast-to-coast and beyond! We fellow super jammers and fellow super SvenPals are looking forward to your big “Jammin’ with Jamie” broadcast jam session serenade/cavalcade of Holiday tunes this Sat. on the airlanes of WNUR.org! Again, keep up the wonderful & excellent work! We’re all jumping for joy and we’re all proud of you! Kudos, peace, “Hi-Keeba,” congrats all the best and “keep on jammin’,” Jamie & all fellow super jammers & fellow super jammers everywhere! –C.H.
Also be sure to give generously/spread the word to help one of Jamie’s friends from the PM&L players through her friend’s official “GoFundMe” site (to help offset expensive health costs)! Any amount helps! –C.H.
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