08 December, 2008


Beverly Garland holds off Zontar the Venusian, a memorable Paul Blaisdell creation, in Roger Corman's 1956 Sci-Fi quickie IT CONQUERED THE WORLD.

One of my favorite cult movie actresses, Beverly Garland, died on December 5th at the age of 82. On Saturday morning I had heard about the December 4th death of legendary writer/actor/collector/FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND founder-editor Forrest J. Ackerman but I wasn't aware of her passing until reading about it in the local paper this morning on the way to work. In an interesting coincidence I just happened to get a compulsion to watch Roger Corman's 1957 NOT OF THIS EARTH after my usual weekend mountain biking excursion. A delightful B- science fiction concotion, I was really struck while watching it just how much Garland's self assured, humorous, sexy, intelligent, down-to-earth presence adds to the film. Her spunk, warmth and wit are what ground the outlandish affair. As the imposing alien of the title (Paul Birch) walks around LA in a business suit and shades, toting a portable bloodsucking machine in a metal briefcase, Beverly cracks jokes and effortlessly gives the scenario credibility as Nurse Nadine. Verbally sparring with hood Jonathan Haze (the future protagonist of Corman's original THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS), keeping on sharp eye on Birch's more than questionable activities, risking her neck to save the planet, she keeps her cool as an actress and pretty much holds it all together.

As I mulled over her obit I also recalled with some nostalgia her role (as mad scientist Lee Van Cleef's wife) in my first Roger Corman film, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956), which I have distant memories of watching on television around 1960. She's also terrific in Corman's 1955 SWAMP WOMEN, where she plays a female convict who holds her own against film noir vamp Marie Windsor (THE KILLING).

Beside appearing in five Roger Corman B movies Beverly Garland was a versatile actress who had roles in some 180 films and television shows according to the IMDB. She also owned and operated the BEVERLY GARLAND HOLIDAY INN in North Hollywood. She wasn't your typical 1950's blonde bimbo scream queen.

And how about proper DVD presentations of NOT OF THIS EARTH and IT CONQUERED THE WORLD?!

(c) Robert Monell, 2008

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