Awful Auteurs: Coleman Francis


The life of Coleman Francis was an All-American story- born in Oklahoma, Coleman found his way to Hollywood to live his dream of becoming a movie star. He didn’t find much success as an actor, getting mostly small, uncredited parts in B-movies. After befriending a welder named Tony Cardoza, he decided to take control of his own fate by writing and directing his own films.

Tony and Coleman soon put together a trilogy of pictures that they were certain would be successful. The first film in Coleman’s trilogy of error was Beast of Yucca Flats, a motion picture that was filmed without a soundtrack to save money. Voices and narration were recorded afterwards and dubbed over the film. Clocking in at less than an hour, the nonsensical mess was hardly a triumph.

The Skydivers was arguably the best of the Coleman Francis trilogy and that’s not saying much. Featuring endless skydiving sequences, a beefy temptress and a hair helmeted leading lady, the film appears to have been written around the amenities that Coleman and Tony’s friends could offer them for free. At least the soundtrack synchronizes with the video this time!

The final film in the trilogy is a despicable picture called Red Zone Cuba that dramatizes the Bay of Pigs invasion. Coleman takes center stage in this picture, playing a piggish degenerate who somehow stumbles upon an opportunity to help the United States invade Cuba- for a price, of course. Helped out by the seemingly illiterate “Cherokee Jack”, Coleman’s “Meal Team 6” “prettie” much fails at everything it tries to accomplish.

Coleman’s trilogy didn’t make him famous or rich in his lifetime and he ended up becoming a homeless drunk who was found dead in a station wagon in Hollywood under mysterious circumstances. His pictures would get a boost twenty years after his death when they were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The fame that had eluded Coleman in his lifetime had finally arrived.