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Charles H. Schneer

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Black and white photograph of a man at bust length.
Charles H. Schneer in 1974

Charles Hirsch Schneer (May 5, 1920 – January 21, 2009) was an American film producer, best known for working with Ray Harryhausen, the specialist known for his work in stop motion model animation.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, he graduated from Columbia University in 1940. Serving in the U.S. Army's Signal Corps Photographic Unit during the War and moved to Hollywood following demobilization.[1]

Sam Katzman[edit]

Schneer joined Columbia Pictures, where he wrote the script for the Robin Hood film The Prince of Thieves (1948) for Sam Katzman.[2] He later adapted Byron's The Corsair for Katzman but it was not made.[3]

Schneer was credited as associate producer on Katzman's The 49th Man (1953).[4]

Schneer worked as a producer on the TV series The Web (1954)

Ray Harryhausen[edit]

Schneer was introduced to Harryhausen by a mutual friend from Schneer's period in the Army.[5]

Together the two men created It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) (originally Monster from Beneath the Sea),[6] about a giant octopus that wreaks havoc on the Golden Gate Bridge. To save money, the octopus had only six tentacles, which Schneer is reported to have been correct in claiming no one would notice.[7] This film made use of stop-motion photography which the two men were to use to greater effect in later films.

"He was a typical producer", Harryhausen says, "although he didn’t smoke big black cigars."[8] Schneer would produce all Harryhausen's films except One Million Years B.C. (1967).

Harryhausen and Scheer next worked together on Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1957) which Schneer produced.

Morningside Productions[edit]

In 1956, it was announced Schneer was considering joining RKO but changed his mind and signed a new three-picture deal with Columbia for his Morningside Productions.[9]

Schneer made the romantic drama Hellcats of the Navy (1957) with Ronald Reagan and his wife (billed as Nancy Davis); it was the first time Schneer worked with director Nathan H. Juran. He followed it with 20 Million Miles to Earth (1958) with Harryhausen, directed by Juran.

In March 1957 Schneer signed a new three pictures deal with Columbia.[10] He produced a noir, The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), and a war film, Tarawa Beachhead (1958), both directed by Paul Wendkos.[11] More popular than either was The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) with Harryhausen, directed by Juran and starring Kerwin Mathews, who had been in Tarawa.

Schneer made two Westerns with Fred MacMurray, Good Day for a Hanging (1959) (directed by Juran) and Face of a Fugitive (1959) (directed by Wendkos).

In May 1959 it was announced Schneer would make nine films for Columbia, including Battle of the Coral Sea, I Aim at the Stars, Mysterious Island, Gulliver's Travels and Air Force Academy.[12] He started the new contract with Battle of the Coral Sea (1960), directed by Wendkos. Air Force Academy was never made.[13]


In 1960, Schneer moved his base of operations to London, where he remained for 45 years. He produced a biopic of Wernher von Braun, I Aim at the Stars (1960), directed by J. Lee Thompson,[14] and the fantasy The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1961), starring Kerwin Matthews.[15]

Mysterious Island (1961), directed by Cy Endfield was an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, with Harryhausen effects. Gentleman to China with Lloyd Nolan was announced but never made.[16]

Schneer had one of his biggest successes with Jason and the Argonauts (1963), again with Harryhausen; the screenwriter was Beverley Cross who worked with Schneer on many future projects.

Schneer produced a medieval swashbuckler, Siege of the Saxons (1963) then an Imperial adventure, East of Sudan (1963), both directed by Juran. He was reunited with Harryhausen for First Men in the Moon (1964), also from Juran.

Schneer produced a "swinging sixties" comedy directed by Michael Winner, You Must Be Joking! (1965), and the film version of the stage musical Half a Sixpence (1967) starring Tommy Steele. Fifth Paw of the Lion was announced but not made.[17]

In Spain, he produced a Western, Land Raiders (1970), then returned to fantasy for The Valley of Gwangi (1969), with Harryhausen.The Executioner (1970), directed by Sam Wanamaker was a thriller.

Later Films[edit]

Schneer made three more films with Harryhausen: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), directed by Gordon Hessler; Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), directed by Wanamaker; and Clash of the Titans (1981), directed by Desmond Davis.[18]

Harryhausen later said the secret to his success with Schneer was "never agreeing... We were together for a long time. Charles always had a great sympathy for fantasy. We had many disagreements, which brings up that old saying, "if two people think exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary." So we battled out many things in the name of the film, and in the end we'd come to a compromise."[19]

Schneer died in Boca Raton, Florida, aged 88.



  1. ^ Thurber, J. (January 28, 2009). "Charles schneer: 1920–2009". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 420776641.
  2. ^ THOMAS F. BBADY (May 11, 1947). "HOLLYWOOD SURVEY: Sharp Drop in Production Noted -- Still Another Dumas Exploit -- Other Items". New York Times. p. X5.
  3. ^ THOMAS F BRADY (June 11, 1947). "BYRON'S 'CORSAIR' TO BE MADE FILM". New York Times. ProQuest 107920421.
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (December 6, 1952). "Betsy blair wins lead in 'via flaminia;' kelly soon heading homeward". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166416020.
  5. ^ "Charles H Schneer". Family-announcements.co.uk. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  6. ^ Schallert, E. (September 11, 1954). "Benagoss seeking cobb, ryan, O'brien for films; monster story on way". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 166672390.
  7. ^ Bill Edwards Obituary – Charles Schneer, The Guardian, October 29, 2009
  8. ^ "Ray Harryhausen Interview". Daily Telegraph.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (March 31, 1956). "Drama: Naish Going Primitive Again in 'Yaqui Drums;' Science Film Scheduled". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  10. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The (March 15, 1957). "FAULKNER NOVEL BOUGHT FOR FILM: Jerry Wald Will Produce 'The Long Hot Summer,' Based on 'The Hamlet'". New York Times. p. 21.
  11. ^ Schallert, E. (May 30, 1957). "Teen-agers' favorites in screen onslaught; noted dane in 'viking'". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167102198.
  12. ^ Scott, J. L. (May 6, 1959). "Portrayals spark comedy thriller". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167521508.
  13. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR (July 21, 1958). "PECK TO BE STAR IN KRAMER FILM". New York Times. ProQuest 114351461.
  14. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR (June 2, 1958). "LIFE OF VON BRAUN TO BE TOLD IN FILM". New York Times. ProQuest 114471680.
  15. ^ Scott, J. L. (October 6, 1958). "Schneer, muhl plan 'gulliver's travels'". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 167329758.
  16. ^ "Nolan may fly from 'formosa' to 'china'". Los Angeles Times. March 14, 1961. ProQuest 167810705.
  17. ^ Martin, B. (August 28, 1965). "MOVIE CALL SHEET". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 155249257.
  18. ^ Mills, Bart. (September 16, 1979). "ILLUSIONS, FANTASIES AND RAY HARRYHAUSEN". Los Angeles Times. p. n30.
  19. ^ French, Lawrence (March 2008). "The Art of Ray Harryhausen: Interview Part 3 – "One Million Years, B.C."". Cinefantastique.
  20. ^ "Film on Von Braun's Life Has Premiere". Los Angeles Times. October 3, 1960. p. C8.


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