Tom Graeff and Phyllis Yarwood in
The Noble Experiment,
Tom Graeff's first feature film.

Visit the Cinegraeffia
YouTube channel
for more Tom Graeff.

The clip from Not of This Earth featured on this page is probably in violation of copyright law, though I think I can invoke Fair Use and feel confident that I'm not abusing anyone's rights. If, however, some lawyer wants to send me a cease and desist order, I will, of course, comply.

<<  Page 1   2   3   4   5   >>

The Orange County Experiment

After graduation, Graeff made several attempts to break into the film industry. Inspired by Roger Corman, Graeff decided to work independently. Described by friends and acquaintances as outgoing, energetic, creative, and a born salesman, Graeff landed a job producing and directing a recruiting film for Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. The resulting 20-minute film, entitled The Orange Coast College Story, was first shown on campus in May of 1954. The film was narrated by actor Vincent Price, who was a friend of the faculty advisor, and starred a young actor named Chuck Roberts, who became romantically involved with Graeff and helped him by working on Graeff's two feature films.

In the summer of 1954, Graeff began production on his first feature, a fantasy/comedy entitled The Noble Experiment, to be shot in 35mm and color in Orange County, California, where Graeff was now living with his parents and younger brother. The film was photographed by Austin McKinney, who also shot Toast to Our Brother and who invented the apparatus that allowed the pre-recorded dialogue to be played back on set so the actors could lipsync. This saved on having to rent sound recording equipment or having to post-dub the actors later. McKinney had devised a 16mm version of the device while filming Toast to Our Brother, but now created a 35mm version for Tom's first feature.

The film took a year to complete and premiered at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach, California, on August 2, 1955. Graeff again played the lead in this fantasy that he describes as being "about an amateur biochemist who, successful with a chemical 'get-along pill' for his mother-in-law, pours a barrel full of the concoction into the city water supply." The film was not well received by the local audiences, but remained Graeff's favorite of his films.

Today, no print of this film has been located. You can read Tom's own description of the plot and themes of the film here. While a fantasy, The Noble Experiment was both autobiographical and eerily prescient about Graeff's later troubles.

His hard work paid off, however, when he was hired as an assistant on Roger Corman's film Not of This Earth in the summer of 1956.


To cut costs, Roger Corman regularly used crew members to play small parts in his films. We know that Tom worked as an assistant on Corman's Not of This Earth. Now it's been confirmed that the car park attendant in two scenes is Tom. See for yourself in this brief clip from his first scene.

<<  Page 1   2   3   4   5   >>
  All contents of this Web site © 2007 by Jim Tushinski  

The film Teenagers from Outer Space is in the public domain. All stills taken from the film are not subject to copyright restrictions.