Monday, January 14, 2008

Screenplay for Sale: Journey to Mars (1936)

A screenplay entitled The Journey to Mars (1936), by James Ashmore Creelman, is selling for $8,000 on AbeBooks. The listing notes that "Creelman was a celebrated Hollywood screenwriter whose credits include King Kong. Journey to Mars is dated 1936, which is one year after Creelman's final Hollywood film. He commited suicide in 1941."

The screenplay has piqued our interest, as neither The Mars Movie Guide nor VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever 2008 lists a Hollywood film with the title Journey to Mars.

We’ve done a bit of research and here’s what we have so far:

A screen note in the December 26, 1935 issue of The New York Times mentions that "The Journey to Mars, an astronomical adventure melodrama will be filmed in color by Paramount.”

A column in the October 12, 1937 issue of the Los Angeles Times announces that “A Journey to Mars Programmed with Scott and Lamour in Leads” and states that “Outdoing Buck Rogers ... will be the Paramount production ... long contemplated, and at last to reach the cameras. Arthur Hornblow, Jr., assumes charge ... and J. A. Creelman is evolving the screen play ... Lamour ... will appear as an alluring Martian ... Scott will depict an American scientist.”

An article in the September 9, 1941 issue of The New York Times reports that “Playwright Dies in 18-story Plunge: Body of James Creelman Found in Courtyard of 72d St. Apartment Building.” There is no mention of his professional accomplishments, not even a reference to King Kong.

The International Motion Picture Almanac (1956) contains this small blurb: “Journey to Mars, original, by John Colton and James Creelman, with the scientific collaboration of W. H. Christie and the Mt. Wilson Observation. Paramount.”

Our knowledge of how Hollywood and the film industry functions is thin, so it is unclear to us whether the screenplay for Journey to Mars lay dormant from the late 1930s to the mid 1950s and then was brought to fruition on the big screen under a different title, or whether the screenplay has ever been brought to fruition. If anyone has additional information, we’d appreciate the help. We're not interested in purchasing the screenplay, just the intellectual challenge. Thanks.

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