Friday, December 22, 2017

Born Today December 22: Lucien Hubbard

Lucien Hubbard on left, with William A. Wellman and John Monk Saunders 


Screenwriter, producer and occasional director Lucien Hubbard was born on this day in Fort Thomas, Kentucky.  Hubbard started his professional career out as a writer; working as a night editor of the New York Times in the 1910's, while writing screenplays in the time he had to himself.  Despite that some sources cite 1923 as the year his professional career in Hollywood was launched, he actually landed on the west coast years prior to this, probably in 1916 (maybe earlier).  The first scenario that he wrote that was made into a film actually came in 1917 with The Angel Factory, a tenement drama made by Asta Film.  In fact, by 1923 many, many scenarios that he penned had been filmed.  It was around the year 1923 that he career as a Hollywood producer did indeed take off; his first production credit came as the supervising producer on Wanderer Of The Wasteland (1924); based on a Zane Grey novel the film was made at Paramount and filmed on location at Death Valley and in Nevada.  This did not keep him from writing however--he wrote and sold several screen plays in 1925 and a couple in 1926. He returned to production work on the huge project that was William A. Wellman's Wings (1927) [see the photo above], but his work on the film went uncredited.  His work as a producer on the Victor Fleming film The Rough Riders, also from 1927, did not go uncredited, but his work as a script doctor on the project did.  He was hired as an upper level executive at Paramount  after the release of Wings.  In 1928 and 1929 he was hired on as a director (had worked as director on at least 3 films, but was only openly credited with just two).  The first of these film was Rose-Marie which he adapted from a play and made at MGM and starred Joan Crawford. The second was The Mysterious Island, which he adapted from a Jules Verne novel, starred Lionel Barrymore and had a silent version and a partial sound version (it was also shot in the start of the art color process of the time and incorporated film work by Maurice Tourneur and Benjamin Chirstensen). His work as a producer on the partial silent The Wolf Song starring Gary Cooper and Lupe Velez cemented his work as a producer in the 1930's.  He was a very active producer during that decade, and along with his studio work, this was his most prolific decade in the business.  He was lured to MGM in 1933 and this resulted in legal action by Paramount due to Hubbard's contract as an assistant to Darryl Zanuck--the whole affair ended with Zanuck absconding to Twentieth Century Fox; and it would be that studio and Zanuck that Hubbard to turn to in the later days of his work as a producer.  The last film that he has a production credit on is as an associate producer on the 1941 comedy For Beauty's Sake.  Through all of this, he had never stopped writing.  During the silent years, among the many writing credits that he amassed, one has become a bit of a stand out on cultural grounds.  He has been given sole credit in some places (or blame depending on how you view the matter) wrongly for writing the script from scratch (which is just strange) for The Vanishing American (1925), when in fact, he adapted it from another Zane Grey novel (the film/book was remade 1955 with one shared actor and sported a very different plot).  His writing during the 1930's consisted of doctoring a number of scripts that needed work--for these he mostly didn't get credit, and probably, given his executive positions, didn't want credit.  The last film that he wrote came when he penned the script for Gung Ho!: The Story of Carlson's Makin Island Raiders which was based on a true memoir; the film starred Randolph Scott and featured Noah Berry Jr., son of Noah Berry who would appear in several Paramount films that Hubbard penned in the 1920's.  Hubbard passed away in 1971 on the 31st of December, just days after his 83rd birthday, having lived the rest of his life on the property that he purchased in the 1920's in Beverly Hills.  As of this writing, there is no information as where he was interred.  

1919 film that was based on one of his stories (co-penned with W.A.S. Douglas) which distributed by Pathe.

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