Anthony J. Xydias

Active - 1922 - 1937  |   Born - May 22, 1879 in Tinos, Greece  |   Died - Oct 27, 1952 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Western, Historical Film

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A former exhibitor, Greek-born American film executive Anthony J. Xydias founded Sunset Pictures in 1922 to produce inexpensive Westerns starring former rodeo rider Jack Hoxie. Despite their meager budgets, the Hoxie oaters proved well above par for the period, but Xydias found himself without a star when Hoxie left in favor of Universal. Kenneth McDonald, whom Xydias chose from the ranks of supporting players, did not fill the bill and was quickly replaced by J.B. Warner, a lanky cowboy from Nebraska. When Warner died of tuberculosis after only six Westerns, Xydias turned his attention to saluting the country that had received him so warmly by producing a series of historical melodramas featuring heroes from America's past. In short order, Sunset released Kit Carson Over the Great Divide (1925), Buffalo Bill on the U.P. Trail (1926), Daniel Boone Through the Wilderness (1926), Davy Crockett at the Fall of the Alamo (1926), General Custer at Little Big Horn (1926), and finally, Sitting Bull at the Spirit Lake Massacre (1927). Judging from the surviving Davy Crockett at the Fall of the Alamo, Xydias' salute to American history was not exactly on a lavish scale, but at least his films were refreshing departures from the usual run-of-the-mill oaters churned out by the truckloads in the latter part of the silent era. Retired due to ill health in 1931, Xydias returned to the scene six years later with the promise of remaking his six historical "epics," this time, of course, with sound. In the end, only Heroes of the Alamo was actually produced and it proved the slipshod affair expected from the veteran penny pincher. Retired from the movie business following the less than spectacular reception of Heroes of the Alamo, Xydias was unfortunate enough to be caught behind enemy lines while visiting the Philippines in 1941. He spent the duration of the war in the infamous Santo Tomas camp.