The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

For the discussion of Toho produced and distributed films or shows released before 1980.
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Terasawa
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The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

Postby Terasawa » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:28 pm

I'm not sure there's much of an audience for this here, but I took the time to research this and type it up for the MZ forums so I'm just gonna share it here as well.

Variety July 28, 1965

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Forgive the lengthy post but there's a lot to break down here!

"The Battle of the Leyte Gulf" is the only title here I can't attach to a produced film. Any ideas? (It may not have been produced.)

"The Space Monsters" could have been a working title for the upcoming Monster Zero but I think it actually might be an early version of Space Amoeba, which according to Japanese Wikipedia:

The original draft was one of the script for examination written in the United States in 1966, “Monster Attack”, which is also described in this title in the production lineup announced in 1969.


A 2012 book is cited, ISBN 9784864910132.

"The Two Frankensteins" of course is the germ of the idea that begat The War of the Gargantuas. Interesting that it was being considered more than a year in advance of the film's Japanese release! The similarly titled "The Two Men" may have eventually morphed into the evidently non-Toho Hell in the Pacific, starring Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin and directed by John Boorman. Both Bercovitch and Saperstein are credited on that film.

"Keg of Powder" is Toho's international title for the third of five International Secret Police films starring Tatsuya Mihashi. I can't find any evidence that it was ever eventually released in the U.S. as-is, although in a pre-release article about What's Up, Tiger Lily? (more on that in a bit), the Los Angeles Times reported this film had been "dubbed into English by Toho"; it's also listed in an appendix of English dubbed films in the 1968 volume of Toho Films.

"Tiger Fang" is the second of the aforementioned spy series. Stuart Galbraith IV notes an alternate title "Trap of Suicide Kilometer." As with "Powder," I can't confirm this was seen in the U.S., nor can I confirm it was dubbed, although that seems likely considering the rest of the series was.

"Kiska Island" would see limited release in the U.S. on television starting in 1973 as Retreat from Kiska. It premiered on LA's KNBC in primetime on 8/24/1973 with actor James Shigeta as a host of sorts. Production credits from a contemporary L.A. Times review: A KNBC presentation in cooperation with Henry G. Saperstein, UPA, and Toho Ltd ; English version direction by S. Richard Krown; Dialog by Riley Jackson (the latter two individuals did the English versions of various UPA released dubs, among others). The Times' review also notes that actors of Japanese descent were used to dub the movie. Kiska would continue playing in syndication in the U.S. through the early '80s but this U.S. version has essentially disappeared in the years since. I don't know if the James Shigeta segments were present in syndication versions.

"White Rose of Hong Kong" was released in Japan in 1965. Galbraith notes an English subtitled release in the U.S. (likely limited to west coast cities with big Japanese or Asian populations). Directed by Jun Fukuda, a coproduction with "Taiwan Motion Picture Co., Ltd." (Galbraith doesn't note Saperstein's involvement.)

I can't find anything about "Last Man from Paris" but I wonder if maybe that was a working title for 1965's Ironfinger? After all, Akira Takarada's character plays a French-Japanese spy. The timeline seems right and it would have been the exploitable and importable film Saperstein would have had his eye on. Ironfinger, by the way, was dubbed and offered as such by Toho during the '60s but I don't believe it ever played in the U.S.

The final title obviously is the absurd "Shh! There's a Cobra in the Basement of My Discotheque" (wtf?)... I hate to speculate, because that's all I can do with a title like this, but I'm pretty confident that this is the project that would evolve into What's Up, Tiger Lily?; for the uninformed, it was a Woody Allen film (his first as "director") stitched together from two of the International Secret Police films (mostly the fourth, Key of Keys but also the aforementioned A Keg of Powder) brought over by Saperstein. Allen and his team re-dubbed the edited film into a farce about a search for an egg salad recipe. Notably, Hideyo Amamoto plays a thug who poses as a bartender whom sics his snake on do-gooders. Tiger Lily hasn't aged too well but it's worth a look.

I have no idea about the two television series mentioned towards the end of the article. Maybe the International Secret Police series was what evolved into Tsuburaya's Mighty Jack.

Saperstein and Toho would later co-produce Monster Zero at the end of 1965 but most of their proposed collaborations didn't seem to pan out. Saperstein would later claim that he co-financed Terror of Mechagodzilla but it's unclear if he actually did or to what extent his involvement was in that film's production. (Japanese sources don't credit him at all.) He would at the very least bring it over for release in 1978.
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LegendZilla
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Re: The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

Postby LegendZilla » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:31 pm

Imagine if Saperstein stepped in to help produce Godzilla films in the 90’s.
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Rhedosaurus
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Re: The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

Postby Rhedosaurus » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:17 am

Terasawa wrote:I'm not sure there's much of an audience for this here, but I took the time to research this and type it up for the MZ forums so I'm just gonna share it here as well.

Variety July 28, 1965

Image

Forgive the lengthy post but there's a lot to break down here!

"The Battle of the Leyte Gulf" is the only title here I can't attach to a produced film. Any ideas? (It may not have been produced.)


Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle in history that was actually a 3 part naval battle. This was THE naval battle that officially destroyed any hope of Japan regaining the Pacific and rendered Japan's navy mostly useless.

It would be very interesting to see a Japanese take on this battle.

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Tamura
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Re: The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

Postby Tamura » Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:19 am

The story of this deal, the films it engendered and the legacy of Saperstein's involvement at Toho would make a great book, or even an SFJ article.
Last edited by Tamura on Sun Nov 03, 2019 11:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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UltramanGoji
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Re: The Toho-Saperstein deal (1965-?)

Postby UltramanGoji » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:22 pm

LegendZilla wrote:Imagine if Saperstein stepped in to help produce Godzilla films in the 90’s.


Pretty sure Saperstein was instrumental in TriStar getting the Godzilla rights initially but I might be misremembering.
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