Harry Alan Towers

Harry Alan Towers (19 October 1920 – 31 July 2009) was a British radio and independent film producer and screenwriter. He wrote numerous screenplays for the films he produced, often under the pseudonym Peter Welbeck. He produced over 80 feature films and continued to write and produce well into his eighties. Towers was married to the actress Maria Rohm who appeared in many of his movies.

Harry Alan Towers
Producer Harry Alan Towers.jpg
Born(1920-10-19)19 October 1920
London, England, United Kingdom
Died31 July 2009(2009-07-31) (aged 88)
Other namesPeter Welbeck
OccupationFilm producer, screenwriter
Spouse(s)Maria Rohm (1964–2009; his death)


The son of a theatrical agent, he was born in Wandsworth, and became a child actor. He then became a prolific radio writer while serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II becoming head of the RAF radio unit on the British Forces Broadcasting Service[1] attaining the rank of Pilot Officer.[2]

In 1946 he and his mother Margaret Miller Towers started a company called Towers of London that sold various syndicated radio shows around the world,[3] including The Lives of Harry Lime and The Black Museum with Orson Welles, Secrets of Scotland Yard with Clive Brook, Horatio Hornblower in which Michael Hordern played the famous character created by C.S. Forester, and a series based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, featuring John Gielgud as Holmes, Ralph Richardson as Watson, and Orson Welles as Professor Moriarty.

Based on his radio success, in the mid-1950s he produced television shows for ITV[4] such as Armchair Theatre, The Golden Fleece, The Boy About the Place, Teddy Gang, The Lady Asks for Help, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Suicide Club, The Little Black Book, The New Adventures of Martin Kane, A Christmas Carol, 24 Hours a Day, Down to the Sea, Gun Rule, and many others.

On 7 April 1956 Billboard magazine announced J. Elroy McCaw's Gotham Broadcasting Corporation Radio WINS AM New York made a deal with Harry Alan Towers, for deejay Alan Freed to do a special taped 1/2 hour rock 'n' roll record show on Saturday nights over Radio Luxembourg, which beamed to most of the countries of Free Europe.

Film careerEdit

Towers began producing feature films in 1962, sometimes writing the screenplay. Towers filmed in various countries such as South Africa, Ireland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and others. A number of his films and scripts were based on the works of Sax Rohmer, such as Sumuru and the popular Fu Manchu series of five films starring Christopher Lee. He also adapted the novels of Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None and the Miss Marple series), the Marquis de Sade, and the works of Edgar Wallace. In fact Towers produced three separate film versions of And Then There Were None, each set in a different locale.

He frequently collaborated with director Jesus Franco during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Towers had a hand in writing and/or producing numerous films directed by Franco, including 99 Women (1969), The Girl from Rio aka Rio 70 (1969), Venus in Furs (1969), Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969), Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion (1970), The Bloody Judge (1970), and Count Dracula (1970). Franco also helmed the last two Fu Manchu films The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968) and The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969).

Vice activitiesEdit

In 1961 Towers, with girlfriend Mariella Novotny, was charged with operating a vice ring at a New York hotel, but he jumped bail and returned to Europe.[5] Novotny, in her statement to the FBI, claimed Towers was a Soviet agent responsible for providing compromising information on individuals for the benefit of the USSR.[6] Lobster Magazine ran an article in 1983[6][7] citing sources who alleged Towers was linked with (among others) Stephen Ward, Peter Lawford, the Soviet Union, and a vice ring at the United Nations. Hearst Corporation newspapers had already mentioned Towers' name in a 1963 article featuring coded references to a liaison between a pre-White House John F. Kennedy and Novotny, a known prostitute.[8] The charges against Towers were dropped in 1980 after he paid a £4,200 fine for jumping bail.[5]


In his last months Towers was working with Ken Russell on an adaptation of Moll Flanders.[6] He died after a short illness in hospital in Canada on 31 July 2009.


Year Film Based on Starring Notes
1961 Information Received William Sylvester, Sabine Sesselmann
1963 Death Drums Along the River Sanders of the River (by Edgar Wallace) Richard Todd, Marianne Koch, Albert Lieven, Walter Rilla, Vivi Bach
1964 Victim Five Lex Barker, Ronald Fraser, Ann Smyrner, Walter Rilla, Dietmar Schönherr
1965 Coast of Skeletons Sanders of the River (by Edgar Wallace) Richard Todd, Dale Robertson, Heinz Drache, Marianne Koch, Elga Andersen, Dietmar Schönherr
1965 Sandy the Seal Heinz Drache, Marianne Koch
1965 Mozambique Steve Cochran, Hildegard Knef, Paul Hubschmid, Vivi Bach, Dietmar Schönherr
1965 24 Hours to Kill Lex Barker, Mickey Rooney, Walter Slezak, France Anglade, Hans Clarin, Wolfgang Lukschy
1965 The Face of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu (by Sax Rohmer) Christopher Lee, Nigel Green, Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, James Robertson Justice, Walter Rilla, Tsai Chin, Howard Marion-Crawford
1965 Ten Little Indians And Then There Were None (by Agatha Christie) Shirley Eaton, Hugh O'Brian, Stanley Holloway, Dennis Price, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Daliah Lavi, Leo Genn, Fabian Forte, Marianne Hoppe, Mario Adorf
1966 Our Man in Marrakesh Tony Randall, Senta Berger, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Terry-Thomas, Margaret Lee, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Grégoire Aslan, John Le Mesurier
1966 Circus of Fear The Three Just Men (by Edgar Wallace) Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, Heinz Drache, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Suzy Kendall, Cecil Parker, Eddi Arent
1966 The Brides of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu (by Sax Rohmer) Christopher Lee, Douglas Wilmer, Heinz Drache, Marie Versini, Rupert Davies, Roger Hanin, Harald Leipnitz, Tsai Chin, Howard Marion-Crawford
1967 The Million Eyes of Sumuru Sumuru (by Sax Rohmer) Shirley Eaton, George Nader, Frankie Avalon, Klaus Kinski, Wilfrid Hyde-White
1967 The Vengeance of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu (by Sax Rohmer) Christopher Lee, Douglas Wilmer, Horst Frank, Wolfgang Kieling, Peter Carsten, Tony Ferrer, Tsai Chin, Howard Marion-Crawford
1967 Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon From the Earth to the Moon (by Jules Verne) Burl Ives, Troy Donahue, Gert Fröbe, Terry-Thomas, Daliah Lavi, Hermione Gingold, Lionel Jeffries, Dennis Price
1967 Five Golden Dragons Robert Cummings, Margaret Lee, Rupert Davies, Klaus Kinski, Maria Perschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Christopher Lee, George Raft, Dan Duryea, Brian Donlevy
1967 The House of 1,000 Dolls Vincent Price, Martha Hyer, George Nader, Ann Smyrner, Wolfgang Kieling, Herbert Fux
1968 Eve Celeste Yarnall, Robert Walker, Herbert Lom, Christopher Lee, Fred Clark
1968 The Blood of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu (by Sax Rohmer) Christopher Lee, Richard Greene, Götz George, Loni von Friedl, Tsai Chin, Howard Marion-Crawford, Shirley Eaton
1968 Sandy the Seal Heinz Drache, Marianne Koch Shot in 1965
1969 99 Women Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Luciana Paluzzi, Herbert Lom
1969 The Girl from Rio Sumuru (by Sax Rohmer) Shirley Eaton, George Sanders, Richard Wyler, Herbert Fleischmann, Walter Rilla
1969 Marquis de Sade: Justine Justine (by the Marquis de Sade) Klaus Kinski, Romina Power, Harald Leipnitz, Jack Palance, Akim Tamiroff, Horst Frank, Sylva Koscina, Mercedes McCambridge
1969 The Castle of Fu Manchu Fu Manchu (by Sax Rohmer) Christopher Lee, Richard Greene, Maria Perschy, Günther Stoll, Tsai Chin, Howard Marion-Crawford
1969 Venus in Furs Venus in Furs (by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch) James Darren, Barbara McNair, Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Dennis Price
1970 Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion Philosophy in the Bedroom (by the Marquis de Sade) Marie Liljedahl, Christopher Lee
1970 The Bloody Judge Christopher Lee, Maria Schell, Leo Genn, Margaret Lee
1970 Count Dracula Dracula (by Bram Stoker) Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Soledad Miranda
1970 Dorian Gray The Picture of Dorian Gray (by Oscar Wilde) Helmut Berger, Richard Todd, Herbert Lom, Marie Liljedahl, Margaret Lee, Isa Miranda
1971 Black Beauty Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell) Mark Lester, Walter Slezak, Uschi Glas, Peter Lee Lawrence
1972 Treasure Island Treasure Island (by Robert Louis Stevenson) Orson Welles, Lionel Stander, Walter Slezak, Rik Battaglia, Kim Burfield
1972 The Call of the Wild The Call of the Wild (by Jack London) Charlton Heston, Michèle Mercier, Raimund Harmstorf, George Eastman, Rik Battaglia
1973 White Fang White Fang (by Jack London) Franco Nero, Virna Lisi, Fernando Rey, Raimund Harmstorf, John Steiner
1974 And Then There Were None And Then There Were None (by Agatha Christie) Oliver Reed, Elke Sommer, Richard Attenborough, Charles Aznavour, Gert Fröbe, Stéphane Audran, Herbert Lom, Adolfo Celi
1976 Blue Belle Annie Belle, Charles Fawcett, Al Cliver, Rik Battaglia
1979 H. G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come The Shape of Things to Come (by H. G. Wells) Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland
1979 King Solomon's Treasure King Solomon's Mines (by H. Rider Haggard) David McCallum, John Colicos, Patrick Macnee, Britt Ekland, Wilfrid Hyde-White
1980 Klondike Fever Jack London Jeff East, Angie Dickinson, Rod Steiger, Lorne Greene
1983 Black Venus Honoré de Balzac Josephine Jacqueline Jones
1983 Fanny Hill Fanny Hill (by John Cleland) Lisa Foster, Oliver Reed, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Shelley Winters
1984 Lady Libertine Frank and I (by an anonymous writer) Jennifer Inch, Christopher Pearson
1984 Christina Jewel Shepard
1985 Black Arrow The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (by Robert Louis Stevenson) Benedict Taylor, Oliver Reed, Fernando Rey, Donald Pleasence, Georgia Slowe
1986 Lightning, the White Stallion Mickey Rooney, Susan George
1987 Gor Gor (by John Norman) Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Oliver Reed
1988 Platoon Leader Michael Dudikoff
1988 Howling IV: The Original Nightmare The Howling (by Gary Brandner) Romy Windsor
1988 Outlaw of Gor Gor (by John Norman) Urbano Barberini, Rebecca Ferratti, Jack Palance
1989 Edge of Sanity Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (by Robert Louis Stevenson) Anthony Perkins, Glynis Barber
1989 American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt David Bradley, Steve James
1989 River of Death River of Death (by Alistair MacLean) Michael Dudikoff, Robert Vaughn, Donald Pleasence, Herbert Lom, L. Q. Jones
1989 Ten Little Indians And Then There Were None (by Agatha Christie) Donald Pleasence, Herbert Lom, Brenda Vaccaro, Frank Stallone
1989 The Phantom of the Opera The Phantom of the Opera (by Gaston Leroux) Robert Englund
1990 Buried Alive The Premature Burial (by Edgar Allan Poe) Robert Vaughn, Donald Pleasence, John Carradine
1990 Oddball Hall Don Ameche, Burgess Meredith
1991 Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady Sherlock Holmes (by Arthur Conan Doyle) Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee, Morgan Fairchild
1992 Incident at Victoria Falls Sherlock Holmes (by Arthur Conan Doyle) Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee, Jenny Seagrove, Joss Ackland, Richard Todd
1992 The Lost World The Lost World (by Arthur Conan Doyle) John Rhys-Davies, David Warner
1992 Return to the Lost World The Lost World (by Arthur Conan Doyle) John Rhys-Davies, David Warner
1992 Dance Macabre Robert Englund
1993 Night Terrors Robert Englund
1995 The Mangler The Mangler (by Stephen King) Robert Englund
1995 Bullet to Beijing Harry Palmer (by Len Deighton) Michael Caine, Jason Connery, Mia Sara, Michael Gambon, Michael Sarrazin
1995 Cry, the Beloved Country Cry, the Beloved Country (by Alan Paton) James Earl Jones, Richard Harris
1996 Midnight in Saint Petersburg Harry Palmer (by Len Deighton) Michael Caine, Jason Connery, Michael Gambon, Michael Sarrazin
1998 Owd Bob Owd Bob (by Alfred Ollivant) James Cromwell, Colm Meaney, Jemima Rooper, Dylan Provencher
1999 Treasure Island Treasure Island (by Robert Louis Stevenson) Jack Palance
2000 Death, Deceit and Destiny Aboard the Orient Express Richard Grieco, Christoph Waltz, Romina Mondello, Götz Otto, Nicky Henson
2003 Sumuru Sumuru (by Sax Rohmer) Alexandra Kamp, Michael Shanks
2004 Pact with the Devil The Picture of Dorian Gray (by Oscar Wilde) Ethan Erickson, Malcolm McDowell, Christoph Waltz


  1. ^ The Independent
  2. ^ p.13 Mann, Dave Harry Alan Towers: The Transnational Career of a Cinematic Contrarian McFarland, 20 Oct 2014
  3. ^ Pat Saperstein "B-movie guru Towers dies at 88", Variety, 2 August 2009
  4. ^ Teletronic.co.uk
  5. ^ a b Cy Young "Harry Alan Towers: Prolific radio, television and film producer and screenwriter", The Independent, 4 November 2009
  6. ^ a b c Ronald Bergan Obituary, The Guardian, 1 October 2009
  7. ^ Stephen Dorril "Maria Novotny: From Prague With Love", Lobster, no.2, 1983, [p11-21]
  8. ^ JFK - The Scandals: Revealed, a tv documentary directed by Harvey Lilley for Quickfire Media, 2006.

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