Monday, 9 February 2015

Robert Blees R.I.P.

Robert Blees who co-wrote the screenplay for Magnificent Obsession (1954) as well as those for such films as High School Confidential! (1958) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), died on January 31 2015 at the age of 96.

Robert Blees was born in Lathrop, Missouri on June 9 1918. He attended Dartmouth College, where he was Phi Beta Kappa. Early in his career he worked for Time and Life magazines. His first screenplay was for the film Sweater Girl (1942). During World War II he served as a navigator in the United States Army Air Corps. He wrote the screenplay for the film Paid in Full (1950).

During the Fifties Mr. Blees wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for the films All I Desire (1953), Playgirl (1954), Magnificent Obsession (1954), The Yellow Mountain (1954), Cattle Queen of Montana (1954), One Desire (1955), The Fighting Chance (1955), Slightly Scarlet (1956), Autumn Leaves (1956), The Black Scorpion (1957), High School Confidential! (1958), Screaming Mimi (1958), and From the Earth to the Moon (1958).  He also worked in television, writing episodes of such shows as Lux Video Theatre; Climax; Peter Gunn; Richard Diamond, Private Detective; Tales of the Vikings; Zane Grey Theatre; Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse; and The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

The Sixties saw Mr. Blees primarily working in television. He wrote episodes of Hong Kong, Checkmate, Bus Stop, Kraft Mystery Theatre, and Kraft Suspense Theatre. He also served as a producer on the shows Bus Stop, Combat, Kraft Suspense Theatre, and Bonanza.

In the Seventies Robert Blees wrote the screenplays for the films Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972), Frogs (1972), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), and A Woman for All Men (1975).  He wrote episodes of the TV shows Cannon, Harry O, What Really Happened to the Class of '65?, Columbo, and Project U.F.O. He served as a producer on the shows What Really Happened to the Class of '65? and Project U.F.O., as well as a story consultant on Project U.F.O. In the Eighties he wrote episodes of Flamingo Road and Airwolf, as well as the TV movie Gidget's Summer Reunion. He wrote the screenplay for the film Savage Harvest (1981).

Robert Blees served as a board member of both the Writers Guild of America West and the Producers Guild of America. He also served for several decades on the board of the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

Robert Blees was a very prolific writer. He was also a very versatile one. He worked in several different genres, including film noir (The Glass Web), drama (Autumn Leaves), Westerns (Cattle Queen of Montana), science fiction (From the Earth to the Moon), and horror (Dr. Phibes Rises Again). What is more, he was as comfortable writing a big budget "A" picture (Magnificent Obsession) as he was a low budget "B" movie (Frogs). While some of Robert Blees' film work could hardly be considered classics, the fact is that he wrote several films, many of which were quite good. While The Glass Web, From the Earth to the Moon, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, and Dr. Phibes Rises Again may not be Citizen Kane, they are very enjoyable examples of their respective genres.

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