In 1938, in Seattle, Washington, a twenty-year old budding filmmaker using his own equipment, had already created 58 plays and 9 never released, award-winning films. This director would go on to work for Disney Studios, and direct and edit a 1950 Academy Award documentary. Richard H. Lyford’s films have developed a following among film-historians, since his early “amateur” films are some of the first “indie” films ever created outside of Hollywood. Lyford experimented with special effects, and models, was an excellent director, editor, make-up artist, cinematographer (he developed his own film), and actor. His final and most challenging film of this era was “As the Earth Turns”, with a screenplay based on "The Man Who Rocked the Earth" by Arthur Train and Robert Williams Wood (1915). It was filmed in the Pacific Northwest, in and around Seattle. “As the Earth Turns”, is presented for the first time after 80 years of development!
To finish his vision, a professionally mixed orchestral soundtrack, by film composer, Ed Hartman has been added to the presentation. “As the Earth Turns” is a 45 minute, sci-fi film that foresaw WWII, future technology, climate change, and the extreme need for peace, as the world was drifting back into world war again. The main character, “PAX” (“Peace” in Latin), is played by Lyford, himself, a scientist who desperately wants peace. He uses climate changing science to keep mankind from war. The lead actress, Barbara Berger (AKA Barbara Berjer) portrays a hard working newspaper reporter. Her strong character, “Julie Weston” leads the hunt for the villain all the way to the end of the film. Berger had a long career on Broadway and television (ironically including “As the World Turns”).
The acting is dramatic, professional and realistic. Lyford used early homemade FX including controlled dynamite explosions and miniature models similar to those used in “Flash Gordon” (1936 Serial). His make-up work was excellent (he loved Lugosi and horror films) and his framing of the picture is mature and developed. Lyford was very capable of directing his acting troupe, as well. A legendary location in Seattle, “Gasworks” was used for PAX’s lair. The film has similar themes to “Things to Come”(1936), “In Like Flint” (1967), and even a little “Austin Powers” (1997). Some of the dialogue seems to come out of the TV series “Star Trek” (1966), and even “Dr. Strangelove”(1964). The last scene is dramatic, and foreshadows, “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).