“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).