Amedee J. Van BeurenAmedee 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 college.

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 had seen.

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.


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