Charles B. Griffith
|Charles B. Griffith|
|Born||Charles Byron Griffith
September 23, 1930
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||September 28, 2007
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Screenwriter, actor, film director|
Charles Byron Griffith (September 23, 1930 – September 28, 2007) was a Chicago-born screenwriter, son of Donna Dameral, radio star of Myrt and Marge. along with Charles' grandmother, Myrtle Vail, and was best known for writing Roger Corman productions such as A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and Death Race 2000 (1975).
He was credited with 29 movies, but is known to have written many more. He had also directed at least six films, acted in six films, was second unit director in six films, produced three films and was production manager of two films.
During the late fifties and early sixties, Griffith created both redneck classics such as Eat My Dust and black comedies such as A Bucket of Blood and The Little Shop of Horrors. He had a small role in It Conquered the World, which he also wrote, as Dr. Pete Shelton.
Griffith was born into a family of actors and performers: his mother and grandmother were actors, his father was in vaudeville and his grandfather was a circus performer. His mother died in childbirth in 1941, and Griffith was raised by his grandmother and attended military school. He broke into the industry writing scripts for the radio serial, Myrt and Marge, in which his mother and grandmother had appeared as actors, then worked on the TV adaptation which did not eventuate.
Griffith began writing film scripts, which an actor friend of his, Jonathan Haze showed to Roger Corman, who hired Griffith as a writer. He wrote two Westerns for Corman that were not made before being hired to do an uncredited rewrite on It Conquered the World. He received his debut credit with Gunslinger (1955).
For the next six years Griffith was Corman's most regular screenwriter. He wrote several of his early scripts with a partner, Mark Hanna, although Griffith later claimed that he did most of the writing while Hanna did the selling.
Following his success with Corman, Columbia Pictures signed Griffith to a five-picture contract as producer and director. He made two films, directing one, but did not enjoy the experience:
They were really terrible. It stopped me for twenty years from ever directing again. They were really rank. You see, I got chicken and started to write very safely within a formula to please the major studios, and of course, you can't do that.
Griffith soon returned to Corman. He was paid just $800 for his most famous script, The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). Griffith admits to copying the structure of this film from his earlier Bucket of Blood (1959). He also says he reused the structure he developed for Naked Paradise (1957) on Beast from Haunted Cave (1958), Ski Troop Attack (1959), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961) and Atlas (1962). Griffith says he was hurt that Roger Corman elected Richard Matheson to write House of Usher (1960).
In 1960 Griffith produced an Arab-Israeli war film with regular collaborator Mel Welles but they were picketed by unions and had to shut down. Griffith and Melles sued the union and settled out of court. Griffith moved to Israel to finish the movie but was unable to. He wound up living there for two years, writing a couple of films before Corman rehired him to work on the crew of The Young Racers (1963).
Griffith spent the next few years in Europe, working for Roger Corman and also with Michael Reeves before moving back to Hollywood. He worked for Corman sporadically until the late 1980s, as a writer, director and second unit director.
From the 1980s onwards Griffith concentrated on writing books and travelling as opposed to writing screenplays.
- It Conquered the World (1956) - also actor
- Gunslinger (1956) - with Mark Hanna
- Not of This Earth (1956) - with Mark Hanna - also actor
- Flesh and the Spur (1956) - with Mark Hanna
- The Undead (1956) - with Mark Hanna
- Teenage Doll (1956)
- Naked Paradise (1956)
- Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) - also actor, underwater sequences
- Rock All Night (1957)
- Ghost of the China Sea (1958) - also produced
- Forbidden Island (1959) - also produced, directed
- Beast from Haunted Cave (1958)
- Ski Troop Attack (1959)
- A Bucket of Blood (1959)
- The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) - also actor, 2nd unit
- The Troubled Giants
- Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)
- Atlas (1962) - also actor, 2nd unit
- The Paratroopers (1962)
- Frontier Ahead (1963)
- The Young Racers (1963) - 2nd unit only
- The Secret Invasion (1964) - 2nd unit only
- The She Beast (1965) - also 2nd unit
- The Wild Angels (1966)
- Devil's Angels (1966)
- Barbarella (1968)
- Death Race 2000 (1975) - also actor, 2nd unit
- The Swinging Barmaids (1975)
- Hollywood Boulevard (1976) - actor only
- Eat My Dust! (1976) - also directed
- Up from the Depths (1979) - also directed
- Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980) - also directed
- Smokey Bites the Dust (1981) - also directed, actor
- Eating Raoul (1982) - actor only
- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 2 (1989) - also directed
- Three Bright Banners - a Western about the Confederate incursion into Mexico at Brownsville, written for Roger Corman - Griffith's first screenplay
- Hang Town - a Western written for Roger Corman - Griffith's second screenplay
- Devil on Horseback (1955) - a Western written for Roger Corman about bandit Juan Cortina
- The Nth Man (1957) - adaptation of a novel about a giant man; Griffith wrote the first draft then left the project which was written by Mark Hanna and Bert I. Gordon as The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)
- Flash, Son of Hitler
- Mind Out of Time
- Part Time Mother - script for Roger Corman's Filmgroup, based on a story by Mitchell Healy, about a working widowed mother
- The Gold Bug (1964) - from the novel by Edgar Allan Poe, written for Roger Corman to star Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone and Peter Lorre
- The Trip (1966) - the first two drafts of the script not used in the final film
- Hit the High Road - to be produced by Tamara Assayev and directed by Jimmy Murakami, about two teenage girls
- The Mouldering Mistress of Wier
- Who Stole Irving? - based on a play by Menahem Golan and meant to star Groucho Marx
- Roger the Rager - comedy about road rage
- Two on the Isle - a comedy
- Out of this World - described by Griffith as "a very large scale science fiction film"
- The Real McCoy
- Oy Vey, My Son Is Gay - described by Griffith as "the Jewish La Cage aux Folles, written for Cannon.
- Bergan, Ronald (2007-11-09). "Obituary: Charles B Griffith - Z-movie screenwriter and director, he was a master of the bizarre". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 2008-06-16.
- "Charles B. Griffith, 77, screenwriter". Variety. October 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
- Dennis Fischer, 'Charles B. Griffith: Not of this Earth', McGilligan, Patrick. Ed Backstory 3: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 60s Berkeley: University of California Press, c1997 1997 retrieved 22 June 2012
- Aaron W. Graham, 'Little Shop of Genres: An interview with Charles B. Griffith', Senses of Cinema, 15 April, 2005 accessed 25 June 2012
- McGee p 179
- 'Unions Settle for $5,000 in Stymied Film', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 Dec 1963: 10.
- Pierre Perrone, 'Obituary - Charles B. Griffith Screenwriter of the cult classic 'The Little Shop of Horrors' ', The Independent 8 October 2007 accessed 26 June 2012
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996
- 'Charles B. Griffith, 77, screenwriter', Variety, 1 October 2007 accessed 26 June 2012
- Mark McGee p 34
- Mark McGee p104-107
- 'Genet's 'Deathwatch' to Be Given Locally', Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Dec 1959: 14
- McGee p 215
- McGee p 255
- A.H. Weiler, 'Now He's Curious (Striped)', New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 May 1970: 67.
- Scary Monsters Magazine, April 2008, no.66 "Charles Griffith's Last Interview" Part 1. by Lawrence Fultz Jr.
- Scary Monsters Magazine, June 2008, no.67 "Charles Griffith's Last Interview" Part 2. by Lawrence Fultz Jr.
- Charles B. Griffith at the Internet Movie Database
- RIP Charles B. Griffith at AMCTV
- Charles B Griffith's Official Website
- Audio interview with Griffith shortly before his death
- Tim Lucas, "Remembering Charles Griffith", Tim Lucas Video Watchblog