Rummaging through our library the other day we came across a box with the name Larry Buchanan written in black magic marker. Inside were an assortment of 1", 3/4" and VHS tapes, and the occasional loose 1/4" audio tape reel. This brings to mind the seemingly sudden disappearance of tape in our industry, but that's a subject for another day.
The first time we met Larry Buchanan he told us he once shot a feature film in a space the size of a small insert studio -- 20' by 20'. He wore a panama hat and carried a cane made from some type of exotic polished wood. He was often accompanied by his wife, whom he referred to as "Lady Jane."
Larry told us he was in the process of securing the rights to all of his movies, and wanted to make a series of DVDs that included the original films and commentary by the cast members -- at least the ones he could find who were still alive.
If you're not a student of 60's era drive-in movies (you're not?), you've probably never heard of Larry Buchanan. But if you're of a certain age and can remember seeing films like "Free, White and 21," or "Underage," you know Larry Buchanan was one of the first progenitors of the sexploitation/blaxploitation genre.
He was known mostly for "Mars Needs Women." He often talked about making a sequel, one we insisted he title, "Venus Needs Velcro." That was never to be, but for a period of about three years we re-cut and re-packaged the odd sequence or soundtrack in preparation for, well, we were never quite sure what.
Later on, he would arrive via an older model silver Mercedes sedan, his driver sitting in our lobby patiently waiting while thumbing through trade magazines.
The last time we spoke with him, he had been struck with valley fever and was calling from his hospital bed asking if we could send a dub of his film, "Goodnight Sweet Marilyn" over so he could give it to one of the nurses. He then wanted to put us on the phone to vouch to the nurse that he had really been the director.
He died shortly after that. He was 81. His obit in The New York Times said, "His work called to mind a famous line from H.L. Mencken, who, describing President Warren G. Harding's prose, said, ''It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.''