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Post #2

THE BLOB REVISITED (Date: February 19, 2021)

“One of the steaming services I have access to is the Criterion Channel.  It offers an eclectic assortment of film fare, some of which are “thematically programmed with special features.”

A title which caught my attention recently is the sci-fi/horror curiosity called THE BLOB (1958).  I have seen it on numerous occasions, starting in the Fall of 1958 at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland, Vermont.  What drew me to it now was the opportunity to hear Jack H. Harris (1918-2017), the film’s producer, making comments over the film’s (almost inaudible) soundtrack.

Harris was an “old school” showman who worked his way up from theater usher to territorial film distributor and finally movie producer.  THE BLOB, photographed primarily in Pennsylvania, was his maiden effort as a feature filmmaker.

His commentary (recorded in 2000) is informative, containing some enlightening tidbits about the cast (an early performance by Steve McQueen), director (Irvin Yeaworth) and how the “special effects” were created. I sensed a degree of embellishment was included in some of his statements.  But that’s not really unusual.

I was most interested in any references Harris might make about the “co-screenwriter” Kate Phillips (1913-2008, right).  I met Kate Phillips about 20 years ago when she was a member of the film studies department at Keene State College.  She was a real character.  An actress for about 10 years, appearing in over 50 films.  Followed by some script writing, mostly for television. The type of person you’d ask a question—and 10 minutes later she’d complete her answer.

THE BLOB was spoken about on several occasions.  Kate felt she never received enough credit for her contribution to that movie.  She stated she was handed a mere outline penned by Theodore Simonson (a few pages that just described the basic plot) which she developed into the script eventually filmed.

The only mention of Kate by Harris was extraordinarily brief:  She was the script “polisher.”  Polisher.  That doesn’t sound too important.

Kate also made the very startling claim that neither she nor Steve McQueen were paid by Harris for their involvement in THE BLOB.  Her claim seemed sincere.

Needless to say, Jack Harris doesn’t pass a comment about that possibility.

How movies get made is a fascinating subject, loaded with aspects you’ll have to decide are true or false. In these particular instances, I’ll float my stick with Kate Phillips.

That’s the way I see it.

Barry Steelman.”

Click here to read more about Barry Steelman!

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