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War Eagles (Hardcover)
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War Eagles (Hardcover)
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This latest addition to Philip J Riley's Alternate History of
Classic Filmonsters series is a collaborative effort with fellow
film historian David Conover that delves into one of the most
famous unproduced motion pictures of all time, Merian C. Cooper's
legendary WAR EAGLES Planned as a full Technicolor production at
MGM in the late 1930s, WAR EAGLES would have eclipsed Cooper and
long-time SFX partner Willis O'Brien's KING KONG as the greatest
fantasy epic of the period had it not fallen victim to pre-war
studio politics and the rise of Hitler's Third Reich on the eve of
World War II. Long considered a lost film effort, Conover's
research has actually uncovered a richly detailed pre-production
history, complete with never-before -published artwork,
storyboards, test footage frames and more, direct from studio
archives and the estates of technicians and artists who actually
worked on the film. Also included is the full, never-published
final draft of WAR EAGLES by Cyril Hume (screenwriter of MGM's
Tarzan series and the sci-fi masterpiece FORBIDDEN PLANET) along
with Merian C. Cooper's original treatment and production designer
Howard Campbell's notes and budgets for the ill-fated production.
For decades, stop-motion fans and film researchers considered an
early, coverless draft attributed to Willis O'Brien-- but actually
written by Harold Lamb and James Ashmore Creelman-- to be the only
existing script for WAR EAGLES, but Conover's discovery of the
original typescripts at the USC film library in 2003 turned up 7
more drafts and multiple revisions that eventually led to the final
Hume draft. Pre-production artist Duncan Gleason began detailed
storyboarding and illustration based on this draft and it is very
likely that it would have become the actual shooting script.
Detailed models and sets were built and Technicolor test footage
featuring stop-motion animation by Willis O'Brien and his crew
(including Kong/Mighty Joe Young creators Marcel Delgado and George
Lofgren) was shot, and the exciting tale of a lost race of Viking
warriors astride giant prehistoric eagles doing battle with Nazis
over the skies of modern day Manhattan almost reached the screen
until the reality of impending war halted production in 1940...
David Conover is a film writer and historian who began his quest to
uncover the history of WAR EAGLES as a 13-year-old reader of Famous
Monsters of Filmland magazine. He was a columnist and reviewer for
the Louisville Eccentric Observer for 9 years and his work was
syndicated widely during that period as well. He is also the Vice
President and Programming Director for WonderFest, an international
modeling, toy, film and FX expo that takes place annually in
Louisville, Ky, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and a tiny
piece of the stegosaurus model from the original KING KONG. If you
ask him, he'll show it to you, along with the final page of Cyril
Hume's WAR EAGLES script. He's not crazy, just enthusiastic..
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