Charles H. Schneer

Charles H. Schneer (May 5, 1920 – January 21, 2009) was a film producer most widely known for working with Ray Harryhausen, known for his work in stop motion model animation.

For the American film producer and screenwriter (1916–1963), see Charles Schnee.

Life and career

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, he graduated from Columbia University in 1940. Serving in the US Army's Signal Corps Photographic Unit during the war, and moved to Hollywood following demobilisation.[1]

Sam Katzman

Schneer joined Columbia Pictures, where he wrote the script for the Robin Hood film The Prince of Thieves (1948) for Sam Katzman.[2] He later adapted Byron's The Corsair for Katzman but it was not made.[3]

Schneer was credited as associate producer on Katzman's The 49th Man (1953).[4]

Schneer worked as a producer on the TV series The Web (1954)

Ray Harryhausen

Schneer was introduced to Harryhausen by a mutual friend from Schneer's time in the Army.[5]

Together they made It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955) (originally Monster from Beneath the Sea[6]), about a giant octopus that wreaks havoc on the Golden Gate Bridge. To save money, the octopus had only six tentacles, which Schneer is reported to have been correct in claiming no one would notice.[7] This film made use of stop-motion photography which the two men were to use to greater effect in later films.

“He was a typical producer,” Harryhausen says, “although he didn’t smoke big black cigars.”[8] Schneer would produce all Harryhausen's films except One Million Years BC (1967).

Harryhausen and Schneer next worked together on Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1957) which Schneer produced.

Morningside Productions

In 1956 it was announced Schneer was considering going to RKO but changed his mind and signed a new three-picture deal with Columbia for his Morningside Productions.[9]

Schneer made the romantic drama Hellcats of the Navy (1957) with Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy; it was the first time Schneer worked with director Nathan H. Juran. He followed it with 20 Million Miles to Earth (1958) with Harryhausen, directed by Juran.

In March 1957 Schneer signed a new three pictures deal with Columbia.[10] He produced a noir, The Case Against Brooklyn (1958), and a war film, Tarawa Beachhead (1958), both directed by Paul Wendkos.[11] More popular than either was The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) with Harryhausen, directed by Juran and starring Kerwin Mathews, who had been in Tarawa.

Schneer made two Westerns with Fred MacMurray, Good Day for a Hanging (1959) (directed by Juran) and Face of a Fugitive (1959) (directed by Wendkos).

In May 1959 it was announced Schneer would make nine films for Columbia, including Battle of the Coral Sea, I Aim at the Stars, Mysterious Island, Gulliver's Travels and Air Force Academy.[12] He started the new contract with Battle of the Coral Sea (1960), directed by Wendkos. Air Force Academy was never made.[13]


In 1960, Schneer moved his base of operations to London, where he remained for 45 years. He produced a biopic of Wernher von Braun, I Aim at the Stars (1960), directed by J. Lee Thompson,[14] and the fantasy The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1961), starring Matthews.[15]

Mysterious Island (1961), directed by Cy Endfield was an adaptation of the Jules Verne novel, with Harryhausen effects. Gentleman to China with Lloyd Nolan was announced but never made.[16]

Schneer had one of his biggest successes with Jason and the Argonauts (1963), again with Harryhausen; the script was written by Beverley Cross who would go on to do many screenplays for Schneer.

Schneer produced a medieval swashbuckler, Siege of the Saxons (1963) then an Imperial adventure, East of Sudan (1963), both directed by Juran. He was reunited with Harryhausen for First Men in the Moon (1963), also from Juran.

Schneer produced a "swinging sixties" comedy directed by Michael Winner, You Must Be Joking! (1965), and the film version of the stage musical Half a Sixpence (1967) starring Tommy Steele. Fifth Paw of the Lion was announced but not made.[17]

He went to Spain to do a Western, Land Raiders (1970), then went back to fantasy for The Valley of Gwangi (1969), with Harryhausen.The Executioner (1970), directed by Sam Wanamaker was a thriller.

Later Films

Schneer made three more films with Harryhausen: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), directed by Gordon Hessler; Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), directed by Wanamaker; and Clash of the Titans (1981), directed by Desmond Davis.[18]

Harryhausen later said the secret to his success with Schneer was "never agreeing... We were together for a long time. Charles always had a great sympathy for fantasy. We had many disagreements, which brings up that old saying, “if two people think exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary.” So we battled out many things in the name of the film, and in the end we’d come to a compromise."[19]

Schneer died in Boca Raton, Florida, aged 88.



  1. Thurber, J. (2009, Jan 28). Charles schneer: 1920-2009. Chicago Tribune Retrieved from
  2. HOLLYWOOD SURVEY: Sharp Drop in Production Noted -- Still Another Dumas Exploit -- Other Items By THOMAS F. BBADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 May 1947: X5.
  3. By THOMAS F BRADY Special to The New York Times. (1947, Jun 11). BYRON'S 'CORSAIR' TO BE MADE FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. Schallert, E. (1952, Dec 06). Betsy blair wins lead in 'via flaminia;' kelly soon heading homeward. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. "Charles H Schneer". Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  6. Schallert, E. (1954, Sep 11). Benagoss seeking cobb, ryan, O'brien for films; monster story on way. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. Bill Edwards Obituary – Charles Schneer, The Guardian, October 29, 2009
  8. "Ray Harryhausen Interview". Daily Telegraph.
  9. Drama: Naish Going Primitive Again in 'Yaqui Drums;' Science Film Scheduled Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]31 Mar 1956: 13.
  10. FAULKNER NOVEL BOUGHT FOR FILM: Jerry Wald Will Produce 'The Long Hot Summer,' Based on 'The Hamlet' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]15 Mar 1957: 21
  11. Schallert, E. (1957, May 30). Teen-agers' favorites in screen onslaught; noted dane in 'viking'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  12. Scott, J. L. (1959, May 06). Portrayals spark comedy thriller. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  13. By THOMAS M PRYORSpecial to The New York Times. (1958, Jul 21). PECK TO BE STAR IN KRAMER FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  14. By THOMAS M PRYORSpecial to The New York Times. (1958, Jun 02). LIFE OF VON BRAUN TO BE TOLD IN FILM. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  15. Scott, J. L. (1958, Oct 06). Schneer, muhl plan 'gulliver's travels'. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  16. Nolan may fly from 'formosa' to 'china'. (1961, Mar 14). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  17. Martin, B. (1965, Aug 28). MOVIE CALL SHEET. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  18. ILLUSIONS, FANTASIES AND RAY HARRYHAUSEN Mills, Bart. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]16 Sep 1979: n30.
  19. French, Lawrence (March 2008). "The Art of Ray Harryhausen: Interview Part 3 – "One Million Years, B.C."". Cinefantastique.
  20. "Film on Von Braun's Life Has Premiere". Los Angeles Times. October 3, 1960. p. C8.
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