Amedee J. Van Beuren, the producer of Frank Buck's first three
films, was born in New York, son of Alfred Van Beuren, head of the Van Beuren
advertising firm, which became a part of the General Outdoor Advertising
Company. Amedee was educated at public and private schools and a business
One of Amedee Van Beuren's earliest and most successful productions was the
series of cartoons entitled "Aesop's Fables." Later movies from the Van
Beuren studio included the Frank Buck features "Bring 'Em Back Alive," "Wild
Cargo" and "Fang and Claw," of which the first scored a tremendous success and
set a vogue in animal pictures. Van Beuren's company also issued more than two
hundred animated shorts.
Van Beuren was president of the Colorado Springs Theatre Corporation and the
Kernab Corporation. In July 1938, he suffered a stroke but had gradually
recovered, although confined to his home. He died of a heart attack, age 58,
November 12, 1938, at his country home, Dreamwold, in Carmel, New York. A
brother and two sisters survived him.
Frank Buck describes working with Amedee Van Beuren:
After exhausting the major studios without
success, I began, as a last resort, on the makers of short film subjects.
The Van Beuren Corporation, a subsidiary of R.K.O., was interested. Amedee
Van Beuren, the president, read Bring 'Em Back Alive and immediately
called me. We drew up a contract in which I agreed to make thirteen
moving-picture shorts, and the Van Beuren Corporation agreed to pay the
entire cost of my expedition to the jungle countries, from the salaries of
cameramen down to the last cocktail I might buy en route. Instead of a
salary or a guarantee, I was to receive a share of the profits of the
pictures I would make, which was exactly what I wanted...
Exposed film does not keep for long in the
jungle humidity, so as fast as we ground out the reels they were sealed in
air-tight tins along with a generous amount of drying powder and shipped
back to the Van Beuren Corporation as often as we could get out to a
shipping point. Before leaving America I had an understanding with the New
York office that none of the film I sent back was to be printed up until I
returned with the final lot. During the filming of the picture I was in
constant fear that Van Beuren might not keep to the agreement, and with each
shipment of film I admonished him by cable not to do anything to the film
until my return and begged him not to announce his short subjects to the
trade but to wait and see what I had in the way of a feature picture.
In New York at last, I was more than nervous when Van Beuren and the R.K.O.
officials sat down in the projection room to view the enormous footage I had
made. I had not seen it in pictures myself, only as the events had actually
occurred in the jungle, and for the first time I realized that there might
be a vast difference between what the cameras recorded and what my own eyes
After the first few thousand feet had flashed on the screen, there was no
more doubt. It was a feature! Everyone agreed that, cut to the normal length
of 7,000 feet, Bring 'Em Back Alive would be utterly different and would
create a sensation in the movie world.
I shall never forget the premiere of the picture. The R.K.O. officials had
decided it was so good that they would give it a tremendous ballyhoo, take a
private theatre (the Mayfair on Times Square) and do the job in Hollywood
style. On the day of the opening there was a line of people four deep and a
block long, fighting to get into the theatre. On the big marquee were
full-sized papier-mâché elephants and tigers that actually moved and waved
their trunks and snapped their jaws. I made personal appearances, and for
the first time people saw the face of the man who had brought to zoos and
menageries of America the animals they had marveled at for so many years.
from Frank Buck's autobiography All in a
Lifetime (1941) pp 206-207.
To order Bring 'Em