|Comic cover cropped from the paperback art by James Bama|
In 1966, with both Bond and Bat-manias at their peak, producers Mark Goodson and Bill Toddman intended to begin a film franchise based on the hot-selling Doc Savage pulp novels being reprinted by Bantam, starting with The Thousand-Headed Man.
|1966 Newsweek article about Doc Savage and the movie. Click to enlarge.|
Then, things stopped dead in their tracks.
It seemed that Conde Nast, who now owned the Street and Smith library, including Doc, The Shadow, and The Avenger, didn't own the ancillary media rights to the Man of Bronze!
Those rights had been retained by co-creator Lester Dent, who had written most of the novels (including Thousand-Headed Man) under the "Kenneth Robeson" house name.
(Dent, had previously licensed a short-lived radio version of the character, but had been unable to develop a movie or tv version. When he passed away, his widow inherited the rights.)
Mrs. Dent was more than willing to negotiate, but time was not on the producers' side. They had already scheduled the production, and had to start shooting something or lose their investment and the cast (most of whom had commitments scheduled after the Thousand-Headed Man shoot!
To recoup, the producers switched to an already-existing Western script called Night of the Tiger, and shot it as Ride Beyond Vengeance. (Westerns at that point were still an "easy sell" to theatres and tv.)
Looking at the Ride Beyond Vengeance cast, it's fairly easy to guess who would've played whom...
Claude Akins as Monk
Michael Rennie as Ham
William Bryant as Renny
Jamie Farr as Johnny
Bill Bixby as Long Tom
Kathryn Hays as Lucille Copeland
Not sure who would've played Sen Gat
In the early 1970s, the character's rights were sold to legendary movie producer George Pal, who produced Man of Bronze in 1974.
The Thousand-Headed Man was eventually dramatized...but as a radio mini-series for NPR, who had scored great ratings with radio versions of the original Star Wars Trilogy.
Here's the original pulp cover...