Burt Topper

Active - 1958 - 1979  |   Born - Jul 31, 1928   |   Died - Apr 3, 2007   |   Genres - Drama, War, Action

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Burt Topper was a 30-year-old veteran of the TV mills when he made his big-screen directorial debut with Hell Squad, which he also produced and scripted. Subsequent Topper film efforts bore such lurid titles as The Diary of a High School Bride (1959), War is Hell (1959) and The Devil's Eye (1969). Perhaps because he upheld the traditions of the low-budget 1950s exploitation picture into the comparatively more sophisticated 1960s, Topper was embraced as a near-genius by French film critics. This surfeit of adulation served to make Topper an object of ridicule amongst American critics, though in fact his films aren't really all that bad: The Strangler (1964), for example, boasts some startlingly effective moments, as well as a standout leading performance by Victor Buono. Topper also served as executive producer of several worthwhile films, among them the 1968 speculative thriller Wild in the Streets (1968), which was as overpraised by mainstream critics as most of his earlier efforts were underappreciated. Burt Topper hasn't been heard from since his 1976 "comeback" picture, the tantalizingly titled The Day the Lord Got Busted.

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