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Coleman Francis in a cameo in his film The Beast of Yucca Flats
Coleman C. Francis
January 24, 1919
Greer County, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||January 15, 1973 (aged 53)|
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
Coleman C. Francis (January 24, 1919 – January 15, 1973) was an American actor, writer, producer and director. He was best known for his film trilogy consisting of The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), The Skydivers (1963) and Red Zone Cuba (1966), all three of which were filmed in the general vicinity of Santa Clarita, California. Hallmarks of Francis' films include preoccupation with light aircraft and parachuting, coffee or cigarettes serving as props or centers of conversation and vigilante-style gunning down of suspects without trial at the films' conclusions.
Francis and his films have gained a cult status as a result of their appearances on the comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000, where they became infamous for their poor production values, repetitive plot devices, meandering and incomprehensible storylines, and stilted acting. Some critics have characterized Francis as being the worst director of all-time, even suggesting that he may surpass Ed Wood in terms of ineptitude.
In the 1940s, Francis headed for Hollywood to start an acting career. He played minor parts in several films from the late 1940s to early 1970s, often without credit, including Blondie's Reward, Scarlet Angel, The Girl in White, This Island Earth, She Couldn't Say No, Twilight for the Gods, P. J. and Motorpsycho. 1958 brought his first credited role, Stakeout on Dope Street, where he played a detective. His last work in the film industry was in 1970, when he played a drunk in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
In 1959, Francis formed a partnership with Anthony "Tony" Cardoza, a welder by trade, and together they created three films: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), The Skydivers (1963) and Red Zone Cuba (1966). Francis wrote and directed the films, while Cardoza handled production duties.
Francis married Barbara Francis, and while the two had divorced prior to the filming of The Beast of Yucca Flats, she was cast as Lois Radcliffe in Beast and appeared as the wife of a spectator (played by Coleman) in its follow-up, The Skydivers. They had two sons, Alan and Ronald, who appeared as Art and Randy Radcliffe in The Beast of Yucca Flats and the spectator's sons in The Skydivers.
Francis died in California on January 15, 1973 at the age of 53. Though arteriosclerosis is listed as the official cause of death, Cardoza says Francis' body was found in the back of a station wagon at the Vine Street Ranch Market with "a plastic bag over his head and a tube going into his mouth or around his throat". Francis is interred at the Columbarium of Remembrance in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
After fading into obscurity for decades, Francis' three directed films gained cult status after being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the mid-1990s.
Coleman Francis uses edits like blunt instruments. He uses blunt instruments like blunt instruments. His major themes are death, hatefulness, death, pain, and death. He looks like Curly Howard possessed by demons from Hell. He tried to pass off Lake Mead as the Caribbean Sea. His films have the moral compass of David Berkowitz.
- Blondie's Reward (uncredited, 1948)
- The Girl in White (1952)
- Scarlet Angel (uncredited, 1952)
- Killers from Space (uncredited, 1954)
- She Couldn't Say No (uncredited, 1954)
- This Island Earth (uncredited, 1955)
- The Phantom Stagecoach (uncredited, 1957)
- Stakeout on Dope Street (1958)
- Twilight for the Gods (uncredited, 1958)
- T-Bird Gang (1959)
- The Jailbreakers (1960)
- Spring Affair (1960)
- Cimarron (uncredited, 1960)
- The Beast of Yucca Flats (uncredited, 1961)
- The Skydivers (uncredited, 1963)
- The Thrill Killers (uncredited, 1964)
- Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters (1965)
- Motorpsycho (1965)
- Red Zone Cuba (1966)
- The Last American Hobo (1967)
- P.J. (uncredited, 1968)
- Body Fever (1969)
- The Dirtiest Game (1970)
- Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1971)
- Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (4 episodes, 1955–1957)
- Highway Patrol (1 episode, 1959)
- Dragnet (3 episodes, 1957–1959)
- M Squad (1 episode, 1960)
- Tales of Wells Fargo (1 episode, 1961)
- The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
- The Skydivers (1963)
- Night Train to Mundo Fine (aka Red Zone Cuba) (1966)
- Weaver, Tom. "Anthony Cardoza's Tor of the Desert". bmonster.com.
- Weaver, Tom. "Anthony Cardoza Recalls the Fallout From Yucca Flats". bmonster.com.
- The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. Bantam Books. 1996. p. 134. ISBN 978-0553377835.