Artwork by Glenn Cravath
The Spider's Web © Columbia Pictures Corp.
The Spider TM & ©
Argosy Communications, Inc.
Spider's Web Crew
It's worth noting some of the principal artists behind the scenes
that made this chapterplay stand out among serials of the Thirties and Forties:
Ray Taylor, co-director
(1888-1952) Minnesotan Ray Taylor began his show business career
in regional theater, where he worked as an actor and stage manager until World War I
intervened. After being discharged from the Army, Taylor struck out for Hollywood
and found work at Fox Films as an assistant director, often working alongside the
great John Ford. In the mid-Twenties Taylor moved to Universal Pictures where he
became a full-fledged director. He started on short subjects, but was quickly promoted
to features and serials, and his proficiency in the new field of sound pictures
garnered him plenty of work in top western series and serial projects.
Taylor is credited with over 150 films, but is probably best remembered for his
cliffhanger output which includes The Return of Chandu (Principal, 1934),
Dick Tracy (Republic, 1937, with Alan James), The Spider's Web (Columbia, 1938), and
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (Universal, 1940, with Ford Beebe). As serial work dwindled
in the Forties, Taylor moved to low-budget westerns, then retired in 1949.
James W. Horne, co-director
(1880-1942) This San Francisco-born stage actor and director began
his Hollywood career as a silent-film actor at Kalem Studios in 1913, where he worked
under Sidney Olcott, one of the first great directors of motion pictures. Perhaps
this is what inspired him to switch to directing only two years later. At first he
specialized in silent serials such as Stingaree (1915), The Midnight Man
(1919), and The Third Eye (1920), but found his true calling making comedies
in the Twenties, including College (1927) with Buster Keaton and the Laurel &
Hardy classic Big Business (1929). Horne is best remembered as a first-rate
director of many Laurel & Hardy sound shorts, and features such as
Bonnie Scotland (1935) and Way Out West (1937). But in the late
Thirties he became a third-rate director of serials, returning to the genre that
gave him his start, but inserting ill-advised comedy bits and unwisely treating
most of the proceedings as if they were a joke. The Spider Returns (1941), under
his solo direction, is solid proof of how great Ray Taylor's contribution is to
The Spider's Web.
Allen G. Siegler, cinematography
(1892-1960) New Jersey native Allen G. Siegler actually began
his career in film at the Edison Company of New York (where the medium was invented).
He made an auspicious debut as a cinematographer with Universal's triple-exposure hit
The Twin's Double (1914) which starred three Grace Cunards. He would
go on to shoot hundreds of films for the next 37 years, including the underrated
Boris Karloff thriller The Black Room (1935) and ending with the low-budget
Journey to the Center of the Earth knockoff, The Unknown World (1951).
For much of this time Al Siegler was a Columbia studios workhorse whose output includes
entries in the Blondie, Whistler, Lone Wolf and Three Stooges series -- as well
as the rare serial like the moodily-shot The Spider's Web.
Morris Stoloff, score
(1898-1980) As a child growing up in Philadelphia, Morris Stoloff
was a violin prodigy and toured the U.S. as a soloist at the age of 16. He joined the
Los Angeles Philharmonic at 17 as its youngest member ever. When sound came to the
movies, Stoloff joined Paramount Studios as their first concertmaster. In 1936 he
moved to Columbia Pictures and became its first musical director, an association that
would continue through 1962. (Trivia: Stoloff has a cameo as an orchestra leader in
Jolson Sings Again in 1949.)
Having collaborated in some way with many of the composers
that worked for Columbia, Stoloff is one of the most-nominated people in the history
of the Academy Awards, and his Oscars for Best Score include Cover Girl (1944),
The Jolson Story (1946), and Song Without End (1960). The Spider's Web
is the only serial that Stoloff chose to score himself. Stoloff also had a top-ten hit
in 1956 with a combination of "Moonglow" and the love theme from Picnic, a classic
of space-age pop. In the early Sixties Frank Sinatra hired Stoloff to be the musical
director of his new label, Reprise Records, where he notably re-recorded albums of
many great Broadway musicals.
Glenn Cravath, poster artist
(1897-1964) Glenn Cravath got his start as an illustrator in the
1920's at the New York Journal. He also worked as a cartoonist for
King Features Syndicate, and a cover artist for pulp magazines and books.
Cravath was a prolific painter of movie artwork, creating
stirring imagery for many of Columbia Pictures' serials and westerns. He is
best known (though not really remembered/credited) for all the promotional art for
RKO's blockbuster 1933 release King Kong.
His last published work was for Burt Lancaster's Unforgiven (1960).