Fred F. Sears

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Frederick Francis Sears (July 7, 1913 – November 30, 1957) was an American film actor and director.

Sears, formerly based in Boston as a dramatic director and instructor, was hired as a dialogue director by Columbia Pictures in 1946. He began playing incidental roles in Columbia's productions. The actors in Columbia's stock company were expected to perform in any kind of film, from adventures to musicals, to two-reel comedy shorts, to westerns and serials. Sears gradually received larger supporting roles (as "Fred Sears"), notably in the popular Blondie series and the long-running Charles Starrett western series. By 1949 Sears was so well established in the close-knit Starrett unit that he was allowed to direct, and he continued to helm the Starrett westerns (as "Fred F. Sears") until the studio retired the series in 1952. Toward the end of the series's run, the films were being made so cheaply that the scripts would incorporate lengthy excerpts from older films. In Bonanza Town (1951), director Sears also had to appear as an actor, to match footage from his performance in West of Dodge City (1947).

Sears's budget-stretching skills attracted the attention of Columbia staff producer Sam Katzman. Katzman was a notoriously cheap producer, making topical films so quickly that they could be playing in theaters while the topic was still hot. Katzman recruited Sears for the 1952 serial Blackhawk, and after Sears was relieved of the Charles Starrett features, Katzman offered Sears full-time work in his unit. For the next five years Fred Sears worked steadily as a contract director, having no particular style or specialty of his own but capable of working in various genres. His most famous films are probably the Bill Haley musicals Rock Around the Clock and Don't Knock the Rock, and the science-fiction features Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The Giant Claw.

Sears might have continued indefinitely with Sam Katzman but he died in late 1957, at the age of 44. His final films were released posthumously.


Further reading[edit]

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood. Southern Illinois University Press, 2005.


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