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Harry S. Webb ...
and the Webb Family in Hollywood


In the photo right are the husband and wife team of Rose Gordon, who was Writer, Script Supervisor and Vice President of Reliable Pictures, and director/producer Harry S. Webb, circa mid 1930s.

(Courtesy of the Robert Webb Family)


Special thanks to Bob and Mark Webb for providing photos and Webb family information for this webpage.

Harry S. Webb (1896-1959) began his Hollywood career around 1917 at Universal, initially doing acting parts and then, working on the production side. During the 1920s, Webb was at the helm of many low budget, sagebrush adventures.

Around 1926, he connected with independent producer Nat Levine, who was churning out a serial which ultimately was sold to Universal and released as THE SILENT FLYER (Universal, 1926). The association of Webb and Levine would continue for a year or so --- Levine formed Mascot Pictures in 1927, and Webb wound up directing Mascot's first three cliffhangers, THE GOLDEN STALLION (Mascot, 1927), ISLE OF SUNKEN GOLD (Mascot, 1927), and HEROES OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1927).

When talkies arrived, Webb did some oaters as well as non-western films for his own Webb-Douglas production outfit, for the short-lived Biltmore Productions company, and for Syndicate, the forerunner of Monogram Pictures. These early talking westerns starred Tom Tyler, Jack Perrin, Buffalo Bill, Jr. (Jay Wilsey) and Buddy Roosevelt. Webb also produced and/or directed several sound cliffhangers, THE SIGN OF THE WOLF (1931) and THE MYSTERY TROOPER (1931).

Around 1933, Bernard B. Ray and Webb formed Reliable Pictures Corporation, and that company would churn out low-budget features and a few shorts during a four year or so existence, from 1933-1937. While Reliable did make non-westerns, their film product is generally recalled as oaters with the likes of Tom Tyler, Jack Perrin and Bob Custer. And there were the 'Bud 'n' Ben' western shorts with short and rotund Benny Corbett as the comedic second lead and starring Perrin or Wally Wales or Fred Humes or Dennis Moore. Rin-Tin-Tin Jr. was also on the Reliable payroll.


THE LONE TRAIL (Syndicate, 1932) is among the lost/missing films. Some believe it is a condensation/feature version of the ten chapter serial, THE SIGN OF THE WOLF. Both were co-directed by Harry S. Webb and Forrest Sheldon. While the cast of LONE and SIGN are similar, youngster Billy O'Brien is not in the cliffhanger. And THE LONE TRAIL plot description and negative review in Film Daily does not match the storyline of THE SIGN OF THE WOLF, nor does it list Joe Bonomo in the cast. Wonder if Webb and Sheldon filmed LONE and SIGN back to back.


Their 1936-1937 plans included a series of Bob Custer features, but ended due to the financial situation at Reliable which folded around 1937.

On the right is the announcement of the series which was included in one of the pressbooks given to prospective exhibitors.

AMBUSH VALLEY (1936) and SANTA FE RIDES (1937) were completed, but the remaining four titles were not.

Note the SANTE FE RIDES spelling boo boo - should be SANTA FE RIDES.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)


As mentioned, Reliable Pictures went belly up around 1937. A year or so later, Ray and Webb formed a company known as Metropolitan Pictures (which was not related to the earlier Metropolitcan company). Under the Metropolitan banner, the duo would churn out less than a dozen films, including a group of eight very low budget Bob Steele western flicks. Webb was the producer on the entire Steele series, and even directed several under his Henri Samuels pseudonym. Harry's brother Ira S. Webb (? - 1971) wound up directing a couple.

Metropolitan came and went rather quickly. Harry joined Monogram Pictures where he would assume control of the Jack Randall films from producer Maurice Conn. Bernard B. Ray went to work at Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC).

Rose Gordon and Harry Webb divorced around 1941. Around the same time, Webb's Hollywood career ended, and he went to work in a defense plant during World War II.

Son Bob recalls that his father was working on a later project with Robert L. Lippert called "Shep Fights Back". Bob still has the original script, but the project was never made. At that time, Webb had Rin Tin Tin (and owner Lee Duncan) under a personal contract. Bob adds "my father and Lee Duncan were good friends and we used to spend the weekends out at Duncan's Ranch in Riverside, California. I typed up the release for my father that dissolved the contract between him and Duncan."

Bob also provided more on the confusion about his Dad (or Mom) using the Raymond K. Johnson and Harry Gordon pseudonyms:

"I have noticed my dad is getting credited with more names than he deserves. The confusion seems to be with Harry Gordon, people are thinking this is another name for my father. Where in fact in's my mothers oldest brother Harry Gordon who worked with them during this period as a jack of all trades and filled in doing what needed to be done. Then after the war, he went on to be a freelance Set Decorator. During his time with my dad he primarily worked on the Richard Talmage series, I have set stills where he's also working in front of the camera. Also mom's youngest brother Sammy Gordon worked with them during this period. And later became a very successful Property Master doing such films as LONGEST DAY and WEST SIDE STORY to name a few. My parents divorce ended this family collaboration. If anything my Dad was responsible for giving them their break in the business.

Another name that is credited to my dad sometimes is Raymond K. Johnson. This is an actual person who I had the pleasure of meeting in the sixties at MGM, where he had become head of the camera department."



(Courtesy of the Robert Webb Family)

Above - the Hollywood home of Reliable Pictures in the mid 1930s at the corner of Beachwood and Sunset Boulevard.  The facilities were torn down in the 1990s, but did serve as soundstages 1 and 2 for Columbia Pictures.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the cover of the pressbook for VENGEANCE OF RANNAH (Reliable, 1936) - based on a story by prolific Northwoods adventure writer James Oliver Curwood.


      
(Above - pressbook ad cuts courtesy of Les Adams)



Might be difficult to read, but the sign in the above photo proudly proclaims:

Reliable
Pictures Corp.
Featuring
Tom Tyler    Jack Perrin
Richard Talmadge

Note the credits at the bottom of this poster on the right with Harry Webb doing double duty: associate produced by Harry S. Webb and directed under his Henri Samuels pseudonym.


(From Old Corral image collection)



(Courtesy of the Robert Webb Family)

Above, a pause in the action on one of the eighteen oaters that Tom Tyler did for Reliable Pictures in the mid 1930s. Above are:

1. Bernard B. Ray (producer/director)
2. star Tom Tyler
3. Harry S. Webb (AKA Henri Samuels) (producer/director)
4. Scriptwriter/Reliable Vice President Rose Gordon




(Courtesy of the Robert Webb Family)

More relaxing during the filming of another Reliable oater of the mid 1930s. Above are: 1. Harry S. Webb, 2. star Jack Perrin, and 3. Bernard B. Ray.  This is probably during the filming of RAWHIDE MAIL (Reliable, 1934), and other cast members above are: Chris-Pin Martin (with guitar), Nelson McDowell (in hat and suit) and the pretty heroine is Lillian Gilmore.



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