Kerwin Mathews at Columbia: Pirates & Lilliputians

December 9, 2017 | By

This weekend forms a catch-up after both video work and several screenings put several reviews on pause, and I had to fill in a few reviews with some related coverage to broaden the scope of the main piece. Case in point are two 3D films from 1953, Man in the Dark and Cease Fire, with the former finally discovered after it remained ‘lost’ in a box and I’d upgraded my Blu-ray playback setup to accommodate 3D.

Those reviews will follow very shortly, but let’s move on to the latest couplet.

Beginning as one of Columbia’s up-and-coming stars, Kerwin Mathews may well have faded to a footnote in cinema history had he not appeared in two classic fantasy epics courtesy of mastery effects whiz & producer Ray Harryhausen – The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960), the latter released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time and in the UK via Indicator. My review covers the film proper, and extras that span the film’s differing special editions on laserdisc, DVD, and separate Blu-rays.

His early career in the early 1950s included a few TV roles before he was elevated to leading man in a series of family-friendly mini-epics, and he wisely retired around 1978 when the roles started to include Octaman (1971) and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973), the latter reuniting him with Sinbad director Nathan Juran.

Because Columbia was also handling the release of more than a few Hammer productions, Mathews appeared in the unusually dark The Pirates of Blood River (1962), also out via Twilight Time on Blu, and Maniac (1963), and being tied to Hammer horror, he seemed  a logical commercial choice for clunky suspense-thriller The Killer Likes Candy (1968).

Onscreen Mathews projected confidence and a likeable persona that lent itself extremely well to fantasy roles, historical figures, and action – he seemed an unlikely choice for the French Bondian franchise OSS 117, but starred in two instalments. He also co-starred in more than a few Columbia genre efforts, including the neo noirs The Garment Jungle (1957) and Man on a String (1960), and the volcanic disaster film The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961) with Spencer Tracy and Frank Sinatra.

His filmography is hardly massive, but in hopping through films one gets a taste of a star’s life, being groomed in high profile productions, tried out in disparate yet popular genres, hitting stride within the fantasy & family genres, and finding new works as a freelance actor after the studio system crumbled and actors had to be inventive to keep careers afloat.

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In addition to more reviews, I’ll also announced an upcoming book that features quite a few of my reviews from sexploitation, thriller, experimental, and outright smut that have been edited, some expanded, and neatly nestled among work by peers. Watch for cover and page snapshots early next week.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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