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February 2006

February 11, 2006

Dark Horse Indie has just acquired worldwide rights to the 1945 Sci-fi film Monarch of the Moon. The unreleased six-part Sci-Fi classic was considered lost by the Cinema Preservation Guild and may be the only known copy in existence.

Film historian and documentary filmmaker Travis Liberty discovered it twelve months ago at a Moscow film auction. ìThey had no idea what is was,î said Liberty,î This is the lost Ark of American cinema!î

ìWe are thrilled that the print was in mint condition,î says Mike Richardson, President of Dark Horse Comics, ìThe trailer for this series was the reason why I fell in love with film. It was Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon wrapped around Citizen Cane.î

Travis Liberty is quick to point out that this is not just a case of a film canister gone missing but is in fact a dark moment in American history. ìThis project was plagued with disaster from day one. This is what happens when the government tries to mix politics with private industryî.

According to reports in 1942 a Senate Subcommittee in association with the Office of War Information determined that citizens needed a wave encouraging films that promoted pro-American interests in the war. The Army in cooperation with several major Hollywood Studios worked day and night to produce documentaries and films that were sympathetic to U.S. and Ally involvement in the war effort.

By 1943, even with the mandatory draft, the number of qualified volunteer recruits was steadily declining. Supplies were low and Americans were becoming anxious and bitter.

On February 11th 1944 acclaimed war photographer Lt. Alaster Galloway presented an idea so ingenious that the government spared no expense to put it into immediate action. He proposed a Flash Gordon style Science Fiction serial that would not only encourage hatred of the enemy but would inspire youngsters every where to join the Armed Services in unprecedented numbers. And it would have done exactly that.

Monarch of the Moon would have been the most successful limited run serial that American Liberty Pictures had ever produced. Its ten-month shooting schedule combined with the tragic death of a reported 72 extras didnít sway producers or military leaders from its 1945 release.

The two million dollar epic seemed unstoppable until a strange and completely unrelated military reconnaissance mission to Innsbruck, Austria brought things to a crashing halt.

British Intelligence photographed a small unit of German officers receiving various designs for high-voltage electronic weapons. The unimaginable occurred when they projected a series of film clips from the unreleased Monarch of the Moon. Hollywood had a spy and all eyes were on Director Lt. Alaster Galloway.

Refusing to stop production he was eventually removed by the FBI and placed in military custody where he underwent several weeks of intense interrogation. His entire crew was detained and the studioís finances were frozen indefinitely. This would prove to be the final film for American Liberty Pictures and its notorious Director.

Investigators eventually discovered a plot that was more bizarre than anything they could have imagined. Hollywood had been invaded and the spoils were going to the Naziís.

Aran and Rolf Ferguson were last minute replacements for a prop master who died suspiciously when he fell asleep fully clothed in his bathtub. Both were purportedly refrigerator technicians turned prop designers. Galloway, desperate to get into production, hired the enthusiastic brothers and gave them the largest prop budget Hollywood had ever seen.

ìIt was unheard of to have a prop budget over a million dollars in those days,î says Richardson. îIt amazes me that someone didnít ask why all the props on that film seemed to function. I mean twenty extras died from third degree burns just from hand props!î.

The Prop Masters were in fact German engineers who had managed to use studio facilities to design and test small arms and various rocket propulsion systems. Retired FBI Consultant Shelby Hendershot recalls it like it was yesterday. ìThey did it right under our noses and the kicker was that it wasnít the first film that this had happened onÖbut you can be sure that this was the lastî.

To cover up this colossal embarrassment the War Dept. destroyed all records of the film and went so far as to erase the tax records of the privately held American Liberty Pictures. Under protest its Executive Producers were given life sentences. They served less than ten and later moved to Switzerland.

In a confidential court martial on January 5th 1945, Lt. Alaster Galloway, under military justice, was accused of Treason and sentenced to death by firing squad. He would go down in history as the only American Director executed for producing a feature film.

One of the darkest chapters in American cinema closed and nearly disappeared forever.

Dark Horseís founder Mike Richardson hopes that kids arenít thrown off by the history of this film, ìItís actually quite entertaining,î says Richardson. ìYouíll love the spaceshipsî.

Dark Horse Indie is making arrangements to premiere this American classic on February 24th at the New York Comic-con.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT www.monarchofthemoon.com




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