Episode #152 — Judith Harris on Producer Jack Harris
“Starring Steve McQueen and a cast of exciting young people!” We don’t know about you but hearing that announced in a movie trailer would make us run — not walk — to our nearest air-conditioned theater. Or at least run online for Blobfest 2021, which is exactly what we did on July 9th through 11th. This year’s fest featured a special celebration of the producer of “The Blob,” Jack Harris. If Steve McQueen and the other exciting young people of 1958 aren’t enough to make you want to see the movie, there are lots of other reasons. Watch it to study how it ushered in a new type of horror movie to popular culture. Experience it to analyze what the Blob from outer space represented to Cold War America. View it to learn how to make your very own slime. But most of all, give it a try to remind you of a great love story. And we’re not talking about teenagers making out in their cars, watching the Blob fall to Earth. We’re talking about the love story shared by Jack Harris’s wife, Judith, about the life they had together.
For those of you who couldn’t care less about romance, or classic horror movies, Judith Harris is still a fascinating interview subject. While the focus was largely on her husband and the legacy he left behind, we also want to point out that Judith is a wonderful interview subject in her own right. She is a producer, entrepreneur, and so much more. We can see why audiences around the world are charmed by her when she talks about “The Blob” and other Blob-related movies.
Surprisingly, Judith wasn’t a huge fan of “The Blob,” or horror movies in general, even after she met Jack Harris. To be fair, she was only eight years old when it first came out. (Then again, some of us were probably around eight when we first watched “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Halloween.” It didn’t affect us in any negative ways. Plenty of adults check the closets every night before bed and steer clear of anyone wearing a striped sweater…) But it didn’t take long for Judith to see what made Jack’s movie choices so special — and why “The Blob” became a classic. She shared with us how his drive led him from his early days working in a movie theater to talking with movie executives about making a different kind of horror movie. He came to the movie business from many different angles, and he was determined to do something entirely different and new. And he was prepared to mortgage his house to make it happen. Like we said, drive.
Judith walked us through Jack’s motivation in getting “The Blob” made, what got him into producing movies in the first place, and what it would mean to him to see how much love people have for his movies today. Judith also had some great details about how a young Steve McQueen was cast in “The Blob.” (Yes, the very same Steven McQueen mentioned in our first sentence, along with that song by Sheryl Crow, that other song by M83, and yet another song in “A Chorus Line.” Seriously, Steve McQueen is mentioned in a ton of songs. We might have just stumbled upon a trivia fact that could finally help you beat your archrival team, The Quiznos, at your local bar trivia night.)
Fear not, romantics, we haven’t forgotten that you were promised a great love story. It’s Judith’s story to tell, so listen to the episode and hear it from the source, but we will leave you with a few teasers: loved in past lives, early proposals, friends who know how to set two people up, and overcoming terrible side effects of MS to find true love. Could it be that a Blob has oozed its way into our cold hearts and reminded us that pure love exists? It’s either that or the five Blob-themed Philly cheesesteaks we just ate.