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February 24, 2013 8:06 AM Subscribe
Melton Barker and the Kidnappers Foil.
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From the late 1930s into the early 1970s, Dallas native, Melton Barker and his company, Melton Barker Juvenile Productions, traveled all over the country – from Texas and New Mexico to North Carolina and Indiana – filming local children acting, singing, and dancing in two-reel films that Barker titled The Kidnappers Foil. (NY Times story
From the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (which has a number of Barker's films):
Throughout the twentieth century, so-called “itinerant filmmakers” traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, visiting smaller cities and making a business out of the creation of local “stars.” These “town booster” or “home talent” films featured community landmarks, businesses and, most importantly, local residents. Many of these “itinerant” films did not feature a narrative structure; rather, the camera simply panned groups of school children, business owners, and factory workers. Other itinerant films, however, either concocted some sort of limited narrative, or mimicked popular Hollywood films and genres as a method through which to focus upon the local community. The local talent films, their premieres heralded and touted in the local print press, were then exhibited along with other short subjects before major theatrical features.
One of the most prolific itinerant film directors was Dallas native, Melton Barker. He and his company, Melton Barker Juvenile Productions, traveled all over the country – from Texas and New Mexico to North Carolina and Indiana – filming local children acting, singing, and dancing in two-reel films that Barker titled ''The Kidnapper’s Foil'' (where a kidnapped child named "Betty Davis" is rescued by local youth) and ''The Last Straw'' (featuring a bank robber foiled by a group of children.)
Melton Barker was the subject of a recent On the Media
, featuring Caroline Frick, Executive Director of the The Texas Archive of the Moving Image: "My favorite aspect to his personality that I've been able to discover is that he hated children."
A version from Duluth.
From Media Services news: It took a while for people to put the pieces together nationwide, but it is now apparent that Barker produced The Kidnappers Foil at least 178 times, each version largely unchanged from the original in the 1930s.
From the Jet Fuel Review blog: Melton Barker’s most notable achievement in life was finding and backing child actor George McFarland, better known as Our Gang’s Spanky.