Arthur C. Pierce

Lowest Rated: 38% Family Business (1989)
Birthday: Sep 8, 1923
Birthplace: Not Available
Arthur C. Pierce was a screenwriter and sometime producer and/or director of science fiction films. He was born in 1923, and became a movie enthusiast while growing up. The Second World War provided his formal introduction to film production -- he served in the United States Navy as a combat cinematographer, earning a Purple Heart in the process, and some of the film he shot was later used in such feature films as The Sands Of Iwo Jima. He also worked under Edward Steichen in preparing the photographic book Power of the Pacific. After the war, he moved to Hollywood, where he wrote a screenplay about US submarine combat in the Pacific during World War II, which was never produced. He took acting lessons with Ben Bard's company, worked in regional and community theater productions, and got what work there was as a cameraman, prop man and the like in smaller film productions. From 1948 through 1951, he worked for Raphael Wolff Productions as a cameraman and director on industrial films, which took him across the country and to Canada and Mexico, photographing rivers, steel and paper mills, smelting plants, dams, and almost anything else involving manufacturing on the North American continent, all on behalf of some of the largest companies in the United States. His work in this area also gave him an up-close look at what were then called "electronic brains" -- aka computers -- in operation, which may have stimulated his interest in science fiction. He returned to Hollywood in 1952 and went to work for the Howard Anderson Company, one of the top special effects companies in the postwar film world. He learned the creation of effects from the ground up and their various uses, in media ranging from 2D black-and-white to 3-D color. He took a leave from his job in 1954 to produce his first film, a 20-minute-long stop-motion-animation short, in 3-D called "The Adventures of Sam Space," a science fiction tale that involved more than a dozen puppets. The movie was reportedly impressive on a technical level, but by the time it was done, the brief Hollywood boom for 3-D movies had crested and disappeared. He left the Anderson company a couple of years later and started seeking work on a more creative level in Hollywood, assisted by his friend Mark Hanna, an actor-turned-screenwriter, who showed Pierce what he needed to know to pursue a career in the latter field. In 1958, he sold his first screen story, for the anti-war science fiction drama The Cosmic Man (1959), a low-budget production (reminiscent in some ways of The Day The Earth Stood Still) starring Bruce Bennett and John Carradine. A little after this, he sold his first screenplay, for the US release of a Swedish science fiction film called Rymdinvasion i Lappland (later issued as Invasion of the Animal People). In 1959, he wrote the story and screenplay for Edgar G. Ulmer's Beyond The Time Barrier, one of a pair of science fiction thrillers made by the renowned director for a Texas-based company. At the start of the 1960's, Pierce went to work for 20th Century-Fox Studios in the special effects department under L.B. Abbott -- in that capacity, according to an article by Pierce's longtime friend Kevin Danzey, he served as a lizard-wrangler on Journey To The Center of the Earth (1960) and participated in the making of Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea (1961) and Cleopatra (1963), editing the optical effects on the latter movie. By 1964, with help from Lawrence Woolner and Bernard Woolner, Pierce was able to move into the role of producer on a pair of low-budget films that have proved endlessly entertaining across the decades since: Mutiny In Outer Space and The Human Duplicators, the latter run extensively "straight" in the 1960's and 1970's on television, as well as finding a second life as the butt of various jokes on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The story of the two films' production, at least according to one unconfirmed source, would have made a good chapter in an entertainment bus

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