Larry Buchanan

Larry Buchanan

director, producer, writer

Larry Buchanan was born on Jan 31, 1923 in USA. Larry Buchanan's big-screen debut came with Common Law Wife directed by Eric Sayers in 1961.

Self-described schlockmeister Larry Buchanan was born Marcus Larry Seale, Jr. on January 31, 1923. Orphaned at an early age, he was sent to a Baptist orphanage. After graduating from high school in Dallas, the 18-year-old turned down a scholarship to study the ministry at Baylor University to accept an apprenticeship in the props department with 20th Century-Fox Studios. Fox eventually signed Marcus Seale to an acting contract, renaming him Larry Buchanan, the name he would keep for his entire professional life.Buchanan studied filmmaking in the Army Signal Corps, which made him want to become a director. Back at Fox he played bit parts, most notably in the Gregory Peck western La cible humaine (1950). However, his creative interests lay elsewhere. In the early 1950s he satisfied his desire to become a director by helming religious documentaries for evangelist Oral Roberts. He also gained experience as an assistant director on Je retourne chez maman (1952), directed by the legendary George Cukor.Buchanan left behind acting for production, taking a job as a writer on The Gabby Hayes Show (1950). In 1951 he directed his first film, )The Cowboy (1951)_, which was nominated for a Peabody Award. Buchanan would never again taste critical praise, as he segued into directing low-budget exploitation fare intended for the grindhouse circuit, the drive-in or straight-to-television. In the late 1950s and 1960s he directed movies for drive-in exploitation specialist American-International Pictures, churning out such celluloid travesties as The Eye Creatures (1967), In the Year 2889 (1969) and Creature of Destruction (1968). With some of the lowest-rated films to chart on the Internet Movie Database, Buchanan gave legendary Z-movie "shlockmeister" Edward D. Wood Jr. a run for the roses for the title of "Worst Director Ever." In her NY Times obituary of Buchanan, Margalit Fox wrote: "One quality united Mr. Buchanan's diverse output: It was not so much that his films were bad; they were deeply, dazzlingly, unrepentantly bad. His work called to mind a famous line from H.L. Mencken who, describing President Warren G. Harding's prose, said, 'It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it'."Buchanan directed a series of low-budget films in the early 1960s addressing such topical and taboo issues as sex (Under Age (1964)) and racial relations/miscegenation (Free, White and 21 (1963), High Yellow (1965)), themes that were perennial grindhouse circuit favorites. He also solidified his reputation as a hack with a spate of ultra-low-budgeted remakes of AIP science-fiction potboilers, including Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1967) and Mars Needs Women (1968), a film whose succinct title, at least, is a classic of sorts.The year after president John F. Kennedy was cut down by sniper bullets in his hometown of Dallas, Buchanan exploited the event by writing and directing a fictionalized account of the "judicial reckoning" of J.F.K.'s alleged assassin, The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1964). He had been in Dallas to shoot a striptease-film at The Carousel, Oswald-killer 'Jack Ruby''s Dallas strip joint, which was eventually released as Naughty Dallas (1964). The Oswald picture was the first of what would become a lucrative vein for Buchanan: biopics and docudramas that limned the lives of everyone from Janis Joplin to Jesus, with Pretty Boy Floyd, Jean Harlow, 'Jimi Hendrix', Howard Hughes and Jim Morrison thrown in for good measure.In the late 1960s Buchanan relocated to Texas to continue his film career, helping to boost the Lone Star State's film industry. His movies were made with budgets under $100,000 (a figure that approximates about 1/30th of Marlon Brando's daily wage on Superman (1978) and 1/20th of Robert Redford's daily haul on Un pont trop loin (1977), to provide contrast with contemporaneous Hollywood budgets). Due to their low costs and the well-developed drive-in and grind-house circuits of the 1950s through the 1970s, almost all of Buchanan's movies finished financially in the black. His production overhead was minimal, as he typically was a picture's director, producer, screenwriter and editor.In 1996 he published his memoirs, "It Came from Hunger: Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister." In his memoir, Buchanan called his style of independent cinema "guerilla filmmaking." Classifying Buchanan as a genius of his genre, Rob Craig said on "Buchanan wrote or adapted prime pieces of pulp genre fiction on assignment, filmed them as best he could given his resources, and offered the results to the world with no apologies, nor any revisionist strings attached."Buchanan was completing the editing of his last movie at his home in Phoenix, Arizona when he died on December 2, 2004, two months shy of his 82nd birthday. He considered "The Copper Scroll of Mary Magdalene," a story based on a Gnostic interpretation of Christ, to be his finest film. The man who had turned down the chance to become a minister had been working on the film since 1972. Returning to his roots, the film had became the goal of his career, and was an expression of his artistic as well as religious passion.Buchanan was survived by wife of 52 years, Jane, by his sons Randy, Barry, and Jeff, and by his daughter Dee.

  • Birthday

    Jan 31, 1923
  • Place of Birth

    Lost Prairie, Texas, USA

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