‘Gog’ 1954 & ‘I Was a Teenage Frankenstein’ director Herbert L. Strock dies
Film and television multitasker – chiefly director and producer – Herbert L. Strock, whose big-screen credits include Gog (1954) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), died of heart failure following a car accident in Riverside, a community northeast of Los Angeles, on Nov. 30. He was 87.
Strock’s directorial television work includes a number of episodes from the series I Led 3 Lives, Science Fiction Theatre, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, and 77 Sunset Strip, among others. Among his feature films as a director, almost invariably B horror productions, are the following:
- The aforementioned I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, with Gary Conway in the title role and Whit Bissell (Lt. Gen. Heywood Kirk of the 1960s TV series The Time Tunnel) as Prof. Frankenstein.
- The Korean War drama Battle Taxi (1955), with Sterling Hayden at odds with Arthur Franz over the use of helicopters in rescue missions.
- The Hollywood-set How to Make a Monster (1958), with Gary Conway and Gary Clarke as actors playing, respectively, a teen Frankenstein and a teen werewolf. Following hypnosis – courtesy of the just sacked nice-but-nuts studio make-up artist Robert H. Harris – both young performers start believing themselves to be the characters they should be incarnating only on screen.
- The Crawling Hand (1963), about a dead astronaut’s hand with a penchant for strangling the living. Peter Breck and veteran Kent Taylor (Five Came Back, Four Girls in White) star.
‘Gog’: ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ precursor
Herbert L. Strock also directed the relatively prestigious sci-fier Gog – a cult precursor to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Produced by Ivan Tors*, the 3D-filmed Gog revolves around the threat posed by artificial intelligence: a deadly supercomputer named NOVAC takes over an underground space research base in New Mexico, where he is assisted by two A.I. henchmen with rhyming Biblical names, Gog and Magog.
In the Gog 1954 cast: Richard Egan, Constance Dowling in her final big-screen appearance (she would become Ivan Tors’ wife from 1955–her death in 1969), and former Bette Davis leading man Herbert Marshall (The Letter, The Little Foxes).
Herbert L. Strock-Ivan Tors collaborations
* Other director Herbert L. Strock/producer Ivan Tors collaborations include the aforementioned Battle Taxi and, on television, Strock’s Science Fiction Theatre and Sea Hunt efforts.
An uncredited Strock also reportedly helped in the direction of a couple of Ivan Tors productions of the mid-1950s, The Magnetic Monster (1953) – which, like Gog, features a supercomputer, the MANIAC – and Riders to the Stars (1954).
Pioneering Cinema Novo producer Jarbas Barbosa dies
From Gog 1954 to Brazil’s Cinema Novo of the 1960s: Jarbas Barbosa, a pioneering producer of Brazil’s neorealism- and Nouvelle Vague-influenced Cinema Novo, died on Dec. 10 in Recife, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Barbosa was 76.
Among the Cinema Novo releases Jarbas Barbosa produced or co-produced are:
- Nelson Pereira dos Santos’ drama Boca de Ouro / The Golden Mouth (1963), with Jece Valadão as the titular gangster, who, via conflicting flashbacks à la Rashomon, is remembered by his former lover (Odete Lara).
- Carlos Diegues’ Cinema Novo classic Ganga Zumba (1963), based on João Felício dos Santos’ novel about the titular real-life, African-born runaway slave (Antonio Pitanga; billed as Antonio L. Sampaio), who founded and ruled over the huge “outlaw” ex-slave community Quilombo dos Palmares in Brazil’s Northeast. (Ganga Zumba was actually shot in Brazil’s Southeast, in both the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro and in the city proper.)
Another Jarbas Barbosa-produced Cinema Novo classic was Ruy Guerra’s two-pronged sociopolitical drama The Guns / Os Fuzis (1964), once again set in Brazil’s Northeast – far away from Guerra’s originally planned locale, Greece.
After his vehicle breaks down, a truck driver (Átila Iório) gets stuck in a drought-stricken small town in Bahia, where heavily armed soldiers have been brought over to protect the mayor’s store from the area’s starved hordes. Meanwhile, a Christian “holy man” urges local peasants to follow a “sacred ox” in order to bring an end to the devastating drought. It all ends in tragedy.
Also in the 1960s, Barbosa was an assistant producer on Glauber Rocha’s Cinema Novo classic Black God, White Devil / Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (lit., “God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun,” 1964), the story of a ranch hand turned rural bandit (Geraldo Del Rey) in the Brazilian Northeast.
Lowbrow sex & kiddie comedies
Following Carlos Diegues’ political drama The Inheritors / Os Herdeiros (1970), starring Sérgio Cardoso and Odete Lara, Jarbas Barbosa began focusing on mass-appeal lowbrow comedies geared either at sex comedy fans or little children and the like-minded.
His most notable effort during this period was Diegues’ wildly popular erotic comedy Xica da Silva (1976), starring Zezé Motta as the titular slave – one with a knack for giving mind-blowing blow jobs.
Jarbas Barbosa’s brother, Abelardo Barbosa, was a well-known television personality known as Chacrinha. Abelardo died of a heart attack in 1988.
Herbert L. Strock movies info via the IMDb.
Richard Egan and Constance Dowling Gog 1954 image: Ivan Tors Productions / United Artists.
Geraldo Del Rey Black God White Devil image: Copacabana Filmes.
“Gog 1954 Director Herbert L. Strock + Brazilian Cinema Novo Producer Remembered” last updated in January 2019.