John R. Ellis is an incredibly multi-talented person is the realm of independent filmmaking. To go through his IMDb page is like going through the who’s who of visual effects artist. I mean – working on everything from Don Dohler’s Nightbeast to Marvel Enterprise’s Daredevil and beyond, he has had an incredibly dense creative career. I plan to do some in-depth reviews of the independent movies he’s worked on – but at a later date. Today I am going to focus on a project he has been heavily involved with; producer and restorer of the Steve Canyon Television series DVD sets.
Amazon.com description: 4 full half-hour television episodes featuring the famed comic strip hero created by Milton Caniff, complete with original commercials, network promos and more! Not seen in the U.S. in more than 45 years — episodes of STEVE CANYON are so rare they have been highly sought after and prized by film collectors the world over! In glorious black and white, remastered from the original 35mm broadcast materials!
Steve Canyon was a successful newspaper comic created by Milton Caniff (who had also created the very popular Terry and the Pirates comic strip) who would go on to be a producer for the 1958 television series. The show itself was about the adventures of military aviator Steve Canyon (portrayed masterfully by actor Dean Fredericks). From test flying experimental air crafts to globe-trotting behind enemy lines, each half an hour show was jam-packed with action. I have read some articles on Caniff and it seems he was a real stickler for detail (a man after my own heart). To insure that the quality would be maintained on the Steve Canyon television series, Caniff became one of the show’s producers. The show aired on NBC in 1958.
Robert’s viewing notes: Now, I knew of Steve Canyon as a newspaper adventure comic. I did not know it had been a 1958 television show as well. I checked it out on this special edition DVD, and it COMPLETELY blew me away! The first thing that grabs the viewer is that actor Dean Fredericks looks just like his comic pages counterpart, and he is fantastic in the role. 4 episodes are present on this special edition and the quality is unbelievable. As I understand it, this was one of the most expensive television shows at the time, and it certainly shows! Action is jammed packed into every story and is beautifully done. Well directed, acted, and produced! I was glad to see it also came with a promo feature, and a stills gallery.
So there are some pretty hefty guest stars in this series. On the special edition disc we have Marion Ross (of Happy Days fame) on the 1st episode on the disc. On the various DVDs (there are three volumes in the series) there is a plethora of guest stars on board. This includes the likes of Russell Johnson (Gilligan’s Island), DeForest Kelly (Star Trek), William Schallert (Patty Duke Show), Richard Anderson (Six Million Dollar Man), Claude Akins, Ross Martin (Wild Wild West) – just to name a few.
From the research I have done, I believe the show got a LOT of cooperation from the U.S. Air Force as well, so there was a lot of location shooting available to the production, not to mention the real aircrafts that appeared in the series. This television show will be represented complete in a 3 volume DVD set. All 34 shows will be on them, along with commentaries, behind-the-scenes of the show, interviews, and a documentary on the star – Dean Fredericks. Volumes 1 and 2 are already available for purchase, and I believe volume three will be coming along soon.
I give the Special Edition 9/10 aircrafts as a rating. Maybe I missed it, but a commentary track on one of the episodes enclosed would have been awesome. Now while I’m sure you can pick these up at Amazon.com, I would urge you to buy them from Steve Canyon DVD. This blog spot/website not only sells the Steve Canyon DVDs there, but also provide special offers, lots of background material, and other merchandise available. I’ve become a new fan to this series, and I hope you do too.