During December the Murray Theater showed a special matinee, with an unusually enthusiastic crowd in attendance. Audience members cheered and hooted and carried on - adults and kids - in an extraordinary way. Especially when the film's young hero was kissed by a bosomy princess toward the end of the film.
Afterward, in the lobby, 14-year-old Corbin Allred was the center of attention as a flood of people left the auditorium to congratulate him and say what a terrific job he did.The film in question was "Quest of the Delta Knights," but the Murray Theater's one-day, two-showings event was the only local theatrical run for the straight-to-video, sword-and-sorcery epic.
Corbin has the lead role, opposite veteran British actor David Warner, who plays two parts, the campy villain and the lad's mentor, who becomes a martyr about halfway through the picture. (The "Star Wars" influence is obvious and acknowledged by director/cinematographer James Dodson.)
Trained as a "Delta Knight," Corbin is a "sage" who is destined to find the magical "Lost Storehouse" and lead an oppressed medieval people out of slavery. It was his first movie and he had to affect an English accent.
But he has since followed it up with a bit part in Mel Brooks' "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and a supporting role in the upcoming comedy, "No Dessert Dad, Until You Mow the Lawn."
Corbin's proud parents, Mike and Diane Allred, haven't pushed their son into show business, but they have supported him along the way.
"It was about two summers ago," Corbin says of his first audition experience. "I went to an open casting call for a movie, `A Far Off Place.' I didn't get that, but I met the casting director (Shari Rhodes) and we just hit it off. She just explained to me every way that you can make it in the movie business."
Later, when Rhodes returned to Utah to cast "The Sandlot," they met again and she suggested Corbin and his parents go to Los Angeles and try to land a manager and agent. The agent "looked him up and down and felt he had it," says Diane. "And we started going to auditions the next day."
The auditions were wild rides all their own - sitting down with Daniel Stern to try out for "Rookie of the Year" and getting to do a screen test with Arnold Schwar-zenegger for "Last Action Hero."
"Big arms," Corbin says of Schwarzenegger. "In part of the scene I had to grab his arm and act like I was pulling him. But I couldn't grab his arm, it was too huge, so I had to grab his shirt!"
Corbin landed the job in "Quest of the Delta Knights" after thinking he had failed the audition. "They said, `OK, thank you very much, and I said, `Oh, well, that one's down the drain.' Then two weeks later, I got a call from the director saying, `Can you be at my house in a half-hour?' I went over there and it was down to two boys - it was me and Corey Feldman's little brother."
Diane says the producers balked about using Corbin because he had never been in a film. But Dodson said, "I think he can do this."
The film was shot in Santa Rosa, Calif., for six weeks beginning in August 1992. "They didn't make me learn too much in one night, and every day they'd give me a paper and tell me what scenes they were doing the next day."
Warner was a great help, Corbin says, and they became friends on the set. "He's the greatest guy I know. He made it work for me. He'd make suggestions and tell me if I did something good."
Warner, who has been a familiar character actor since he starred in the '60s cult hit "Morgan!" is more recently familiar to younger moviegoers as a "Star Trek" movie villain. But Corbin knew him from a 1979 B-horror movie about vampire bats, "Nightwing." "It's my favorite movie, and when I found out David Warner was going to be the guy in this movie, I said, `Wow.' "
Diane says Warner was a bit chagrined, since the film is not his favorite credit. But he went home and found a souvenir picture book that was put together on the set of "Nightwing" and gave it to Corbin.
Corbin's second film was "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," and he was hired from a videotape audition. Though he admired Mel Brooks' professionalism and creativity, he says Brooks was "kind of grumpy." Mike says it was with good reason, however, as torrential rains in Southern California washed away most of the set. "I shot three days and I was there six weeks," says Corbin.
"One time I was standing there and he (Brooks) says, `OK, say your line.' And I said, `I don't have a line here.' And he said, `Oh, well, we'll give you one.' And he did."
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this newfound career is missing school. On the set, Corbin has a tutor but otherwise he's on his own at Union Middle School. "Last year, eighth grade, I missed about three months. I came back and was swamped with all the stuff I had to do. It was hard to get caught up."
"The hardest part for us," says Diane, "is to be away from the family. We try to write it into the contracts that the family (which includes Corbin's older brother Jason and two younger sisters Aleece and Kelsey) gets to be flown down to visit."
But the family has no intention of moving to Los Angeles, though people there tend to bring it up with some frequency, says Diane. "What everybody says is, `What we love about Corbin is that he's so natural. He's not L.A.' And then they turn around and say, `So, when are you moving down?' "
"It's a very adult world there," says Corbin. "And some kids, they never have a childhood. I can still be a goofball here."
Corbin's parents are also protective about what he can and cannot play in a movie. "They wanted him for (Stephen King's) `Needful Things,' " said Diane, "but I didn't want him doing a suicide."
"I wouldn't want to do a suicide," says Corbin. "We let people know on the set of `Delta Knights' on the first day what we would put up with."
"Actually," adds Diane, "They announced it. We didn't do it, but the casting people said, `They're sensitive people from Utah, so please keep your language clean.' And they were very good to us.
"We won't do anything sexual. We won't do any gratuitous violence. Not just shoot-'em-up. Corbin auditioned for a new film, was it called `The Tree House'?"
"Oh, yeah," says Corbin, rolling his eyes. "I was supposed to rape a baby sitter. Hel-lo!"
Corbin says he hopes to continue in the business and wouldn't mind doing a television sitcom - if he didn't have to relocate. Family comes first.
"We work and take care of our kids and the people in California just don't understand it," says Diane.
"I'll say, `You know, my son's soccer games are as important as this.' And they just look at me like, `Lady, don't you understand what this is?' "