Thursday, January 22, 2009

Film: Robert Clarke, To "B" Or Not To "B" – A Film Actor’s Odyssey

(Robert Clark & Tom Weaver, Midnight Marquee Press, 1996)
A pleasant read about an obviously pleasant guy, but regrettably the book seems to be out of print.
Robert Clark, who died in 2005, was one of those B-actors whose face we all know but whose name most of us have never noticed, an actor that has graced a broad variety of "Guilty Pleasures" in roles of varying importance, including: The Body Snatcher (1945/trailer), Zombies on Broadway (1945 – a personal fave), The Man from Planet X (1951/trailer), The Astounding She-Monster (1958/trailer), The Hideous Sun Demon (1959) and Beyond the Time Barrier (1960).
People like this are always interesting to learn more about, especially since one seldom has the chance to do so, other than for the occasional superficial interview in some obscure film or video magazine.
Due to the length of his career, the people he has worked with, the breadth of his filmography and the number of B-classics he worked in, Robert Clark should have been an especially enticing subject, and an autobiography therefore all the more appetizing. But, regrettably, Mr. Clark is simply too pleasant to be very interesting. No secrets, no surprises, no extraordinarily exciting revelations—just a pleasant, good natured stroll down memory lane. An easy read, but so light and airy that it leaves nothing behind.
Okay, so one doesn’t necessarily have to write a tell all sleazorama like Van Doreen’s wonderfully readable Playing the Field, but a little grime never hurts, and there must have been more happening behind the scenes than he tells us. It is doubtful that Clark was such an exceptionally unobservant person that he had no dirt to dish, so the cleanliness of the memoir must be due to his overly pleasant demeanor. But then, what can one expect from who ended his twilight years as an active member of The King Family?
Still, beggars can’t be choosy – and as superficial and lightweight as this book is, it’s not only better than nothing, but a quick and fun read.
Images (from the web):
Top: The book.
Middle: Poster to The Man from Planet X.
Bottom: The good man himself.

For your viewing pleasure: The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

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