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Harnell Independent

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

Overview

Harnell Independent was an Atlanta, GA-based Distribution company ran by Stewart Harnell, who's work for National Screen Service opened the door to the world of the film industry for him, while his Cinema Concepts achieved major success in the industry after the closing of the Distribution company. For Exploitation fans, his company was best known for releasing Blood of the Dragon, which has been found on many cheap DVDs, a few films from Rapid Film by Producer/Director Walter Boos, and Sub-Distributing for some well-remembered companies such as General Film Corporation (Arthur Marks).

1970-1972: Revolutions, Schoolgirls, and Roadshows

Harnell Independent's early years were mainly focused on Sub-Distribution, including companies like Golden Eagle Films, but was best known to Exploitation researchers as one of the Sub-Distributors of It's a Revolution Mother!, a Florida-made Documentary about the Hippie Subculture that was sold by Entertainment Systems (Miami, FLA) as an booking alternative to Woodstock. Filmed in 1968, it's small-scale release was in May of 1970. The film was Directed by Harry Kerwin, brother of William, and featured an appearance by Dick Gregory as well as the Aliens biker gang.

The Late 1972 US release of Ernst Hofbauer's first Schoolgirl Report film, re-titled The School Girls in the US, was another stepping stone to Harnell-Independent's short history. One of the many "Schoolgirl Report" films made in Germany through The 70's, this one was released by Rapid Film in Germany. Following the success of The School Girls, Harnell-Independent picked up a couple of films by Sexploitation Director Walter Boos, who worked for Rapid Film: The Swinging Co-Eds and Runaway Girls, both Early 1970's films receiving a 1974 release in the US through this company.

In 1972, the company was also reported as playing the "Birth of Triplets/No Greater Sin" Roadshow, one of the few that were still playing by then. It was also Sub-Distributing films by Benner including Virgin Witch as well as the Ginger and The Abductors from the Ginger series of films. Reportedly, they also handled the Southern Sub-Distribution for the West Coast company Ellman Enterprises (Richard Ellman) plus the famed Beauties and the Vixens, which was better known in the VHS era as The Beauties and the Beast.

1973-1974: Martial Arts, Robert J. Emery, and Wrestling Women

In Late 1973, Harnell-Independent was moving into more Action-based films which included The Wrestling Queen, starring Vivian Vachan, and Blood of the Dragon, which was a film originally called Zhui ming qiang and over-dubbed for the US with members of Atlanta's Film scene including William Dielhl, Jr. as a Production Manager for the US version and Leon Walters (Poor Pretty Eddie) as one of the Executive Producers as well as legendary/infamous Pornography dealer and Gangster Micheal Thevis as part of the backing. Both films played reportedly reasonably in the South and would be among the few films in the company's history that was not a Sub-Distribution.

In 1974, Robert J. Emery's Ride In A Pink Car was also Distributed through the company. The film starred William Kerwin. In 1975, there was an announcement of Willie's Gone, but the film instead went to Libert under the title of Willie and Scratch as Harnell-Independent was closing up shop. Emery is best known for the 1970 Cinar release, Sign of Aquarius/Ghetto Freaks.

1973 also saw the release of A Day At the White House, a film riding on the Political Satire trend, and the Action film Brother On the Run, both Sub-Distributions respectively from Southern Star (Who released the A Day... in 1972) and Rowland-Williams (Who released Brother On the Run in 1973). 1974 also saw the release of Speed Merchants, a documentary with Mario Andretti.

1975: Back to Sub-Distribution

In 1975, Harnell-Independent went back to it's strong suit of Sub-Distribution, but it was a schedule with Exploitation greats. The pairing of It Happened At Nightmare Inn and Things From the Grave, Sub-distributing films from General Film Corporation including Linda Lovelace For President, Sub-distributing Cannon's The No Mercy Man and Naughty Wives as well as Howard Mahler's pick up of The Corpse Eaters were all a part of it's last noted year. Another Martial Arts film, Challenge of the Dragon (Long hu tan) was also played.

Interestingly, among it's last releases announced was Armando de Ossorio's The Lorelei's Grasp, best known in The US under it's 1979 re-release presented as When the Screaming Stops by John J. Burzichelli with the "Red Light" gimmick. A Leon Klimovsky film, Dr. Jekyll and The Werewolf featuring Paul Naschy was also picked up by Harnell-Independent after an earlier US release through Filmaco.

After Closing

Detecting a slowing down in the Independent/Exploitation scene in the Late 70's, Harnell closed the company and later went back to National Screen Service as an Executive VP and Sales Manager, and achieved major industry success as the founder Cinema Concepts as well as developing the logo for AMC. He also appeared in the Documentary Coming Attractions: The History of the Movie Trailer. Based in Atlanta, he was the Executive Producer of the locally-filmed Kathy T. released in 2005.

Omni Pictures, then in it's post Daniel Cady era of general Exploitation films, picked up Bed Bunnies and The Swinging Co-Eds.

In the VHS era, Academy released Ride in a Pink Car while a number of companies released Blood of the Dragon, a film that appears on many budget DVD collections today.

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