Irving Allen was one of the busier, if not always one of the classier, movie producers of the post-World War II era, with a string of successful action-adventure films stretching from the end of the 1940s into the early '70s. Born Irving Applebaum in Poland in 1905, he entered the movie industry as an editor at Universal in 1929, just as synchronized sound was making editing into a new kind of art, and later worked for Paramount and Republic. He moved up to directing on short subjects with Forty Boys and a Song (1941) -- billed as Irving Applebaum -- and later made a string of low-budget features, including Avalanche (1946) and 16 Fathoms Deep (1948), as Irving Allen. The latter movie, a remake of an old adventure-thriller from the early '30s, demonstrated his cleverness as a producer -- Allen turned it into a test vehicle for a then-new German photographic process called Anscocolor, which Hollywood was looking at as a possible lower-cost alternative to Technicolor. As a result, all of the major trade papers and studio production chiefs paid attention to this low-budget film, which also achieved a somewhat wider release than would normally have been the case. On the other hand, the movie's flaws also highlighted Allen's limitations as a filmmaker, for the movie received blistering reviews for its direction and pacing (ironically enough, MGM of all studios, ended up shooting some of its features in Anscocolor). It was the short subjects that Allen produced -- most notably the two-reelers Climbing the Matterhorn (1947) and Chase of Death (1949) -- that attracted serious attention, including several award nominations.
Following the release of Slaughter Trail (1951), Allen gave up directing in favor of producing. The previous year, he'd already found one important route to success when he produced and co-directed (with credited director Burgess Meredith) the mystery thriller The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1950). The film, shot in Paris using American and British cast members, represented a new kind of production, less costly and risky than making movies in Hollywood but retaining the veneer of solid Hollywood releases with well-known stars in leading roles. In 1950, Allen met Albert R. Broccoli -- then an agent with some experience on the production side of movies -- and the two formed Warwick Productions in England to make movies for the international market. Warwick scored a hit right out of the starting gate with the World War II drama The Red Beret (aka Paratrooper, 1953) starring Alan Ladd, with a supporting cast that included such top British talent as Leo Genn and Harry Andrews. The movie wasn't that special as wartime dramas go, apart from its casting and some excellent action scenes, but it was directed by Terence Young and co-authored by Richard Maibaum, both of whom would go on to do far more significant work together in Broccoli's productions. Warwick's subsequent movies, initially distributed by RKO and then by Columbia Pictures, included Hell Below Zero and The Black Knight, both released in 1954 and starring Ladd; A Prize of Gold (1955), starring Richard Widmark; and The Cockleshell Heroes (1955), starring (and directed by) Jose Ferrer and Trevor Howard. Among the few Warwick projects that did not go forward during this period was an attempted Sherlock Holmes television series, as the Conan Doyle estate went with a rival producer.