J. Edward Reynolds - Rotten Tomatoes

J. Edward Reynolds

Highest Rated:   67% Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Lowest Rated:   67% Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Birthplace:   Not Available
J. Edward Reynolds never planned to be either a movie producer or an actor -- but he ended up doing both, in Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s Plan 9 From Outer Space. By calling, Reynolds was a Baptist preacher from the deep south, but he brought his ministry to Los Angeles after World War II, and ended up playing a key role in the making of that movie, as well as a small role in the actual film. Reynolds was born in Kansas in 1886 (some sources put his year of birth closer to 1909 or 1910). He had a ministry in Alabama in the early/middle twentieth century, but some point he felt compelled to move to California and make religious films. He became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills. During the mid-1950s, he made the acquaintance of Edward D. Wood, Jr., the actor-turned-filmmaker, who was eking out a living as a producer/director -- at the time, Wood had three movies to his credit as a director, Glen Or Glenda, Jail Bait and Bride of the Monster. And Wood persuaded Reynolds that he could take a step toward realizing his dream of making big-scale religious movies if he were to invest in the director's proposed new project, which had the working title of "Grave Robbers From Outer Space." This was not the kind of picture that Reynolds had ever seen himself making, but as a means to an end -- so Wood convinced him -- it seemed potentially promising, as science-fiction movies were making money at that time. There were stumbling blocks -- the key members of the cast had to agree to be baptized, and the title needed to be changed -- but Reynolds and his church put up the money to get the movie made. Additionally, Reynolds was also able to secure the services of a young, up-and-coming actor named Gregory Walcott, who was a parishioner and a friend. Walcott had his doubts about the movie, and especially the screenplay, and recognized that his agent would never approve, but his friendship with Reynolds and his desire to help him overcame those impediments. And Reynolds himself, along with his associate pastor Hugh Thomas, Jr., appeared in the opening section of the movie playing the two gravediggers who make small-talk before they are killed (off-screen) by Vampira (Reynolds is the more heavy-set of the two men). As it turned out, Plan 9 From Outer Space proved virtually unmarketable at the time, as Reynolds soon discovered, to his dismay -- while maintaining his ministry, he tried to recover the church's investment by getting Plan 9 out to the public. But the best he could do was place it with Distributors Corporation of America (DCA), which was little more than a vanity operation, the client (i.e. the movie owner) paying for all prints, stills, lobby cards, and other distribution and publicity fees up front -- DCA took no risks themselves, though they still managed to go bankrupt at the end of the decade. With its odd mix of silent Lugosi footage, flying saucers on strings, idiosyncratic (to say the least) acting and dialogue, Plan 9 From Outer Space was just a little too strange to find an audience in theaters, into which it usually went on the wrong end of double-bills with other DCA properties. In June of 1963, J. Edward Reynolds passed away -- according to Walcott, his struggle to make a success of the movie, or even get it seen in theaters, helped hasten the man's death. By then, Plan 9 From Outer Space had made its way to television, where it was given a slightly more dignified berth than it had received in theaters, on various horror movie showcases of the era, such as "Chiller Theater" on New York City's WPIX-Channel 11 (which used clips from Plan 9 in its opening and closing credits for at least seven years). The rest of the story is well known to Ed Wood fans -- how the film's reputation built in "underground" circles, along with Wood's recognition as a kind of "counter-auteur" (or "anti-genius"), culminating with the production and release of Tim Burton's l

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67% Plan 9 from Outer Space
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