Woodhall Spa – Film News

This Christmas at the famous Kinema In The Woods in this beautiful Lincolnshire village of Woodhall Spa, is a special showing of the seasonal classic film ‘Its a Wonderful Life’.

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Also as we have said before this is the home of The Dam Busters Squadron during the War – and that stylish hotel The Petwood Hotel was the meeting place for the RAF personnel at the time – and also many times afterwards at the many reunions which quite often had Richard Todd as a guest. His connection was of course his playing of Guy Gibson in the film and the fact also that he lived in Lincolnshire for many years – plus he was a real war hero as a paratrooper having taken part in the taking of Pegasus Bridge.

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I couldn’t resist including this picture – as a Lancaster Bomber swoops low over the Petwood Hotel at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire

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The Fastest Gun Alive – Glenn Ford

Watched this on Television this weekend 4 December 2016 – and took these stills from the film.

Glenn Ford as the reluctant fast gun demonstrates his skill by first shooting holes in three coins when they are tossed in the air – and secondly this scene where he asks (quite forcibly) one of the townspeople to hold his glass of beer out as far as he can – and then on  command drop the glass which he does.

Glenn draws and shoots the glass into pieces – in an impressive way.

This film was a big hit in the mid fifties – Glenn Ford was nearing his peak at this time  - and was soon to make 3-10 to Yuma and The Sheepman having just completed Jubal and Blackboard Jungle.

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Stills from the film above

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Anthea Askey

Not a name that is well remembered in film terms – although she had roles throughout the 50s in films mainly associated with her Dad, Arthur Askey.

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PERT AND pretty, sweet and very petite, Anthea Askey was the delightful daughter of one of the country’s all-time favourite funny men, Arthur Askey, who might very well have called himself “sweet and petite” if only in jest. The only child of Arthur and his beloved wife, May, both of whom might be described as pocket-sized, Anthea inherited her father’s spirit of comedy and her mother’s good looks. Domesticity and producing grandchildren for her parents deprived her of a fulsome career in television and faithful viewers of a major star.
Anthea Shirley Askey was born in 1933. A few weeks later  Arthur Askey was to make his first BBC radio broadcast in Saturday Night Music Hall. He felt his daughter’s birth brought him luck for within a few years he would become the star of radio’s first regular comedy series, Band Waggon, which would lead him into a string of major comedy films over the next decade.Anthea’s education at a nearby convent was interrupted by the Second World War. The Askey family evacuated themselves to Worthing, then in 1940 to Lytham in Lancashire while Arthur starred at the Blackpool Opera House, then to Portmeirion in Wales, moving to Lake Windermere in 1941, a cottage in Little Milton in 1942, after which Anthea was put into a boarding school at Bletchley.Finally in 1944 the Askeys bought a house in Sussex. Moving in at Christmas they discovered their gardener was augmenting his income by selling their prize vegetables to the local greengrocer. She made her first stage appearance in 1945 at the age of 12. She was attending boarding school on the Isle of Wight at the time. In 1948 the 15-year-old Anthea passed her radio audition and was cast as the lisping Violet Elizabeth Bott in the latest series of sit-coms based on Richmal Crompton’s Just William. Naughty schoolboy William Brown was played by David Spenser, the former newsreader Bruce Belfrage played Mr Brown, while his wife was played by none other than Enid Trevor, wife and straight-woman to comedian Claude Hulbert.just-william-radio-seriesBy 1949 Anthea Askey was a hardened “pro” and joined her father on stage in his play The Kid from Stratford. Then the Askeys upped and went to Australia, where they starred in The Love Racket. They intended to stay for three months but were such a hit they ended up spending a full year. When she finally returned home Anthea was cast in her first pantomime at Bolton.In 1954 Arthur threw her a star-studded 21st birthday party at the Dorchester Hotel. The 150 guests included his old Band Waggon partner Dickie Murdoch, Norman Wisdom, Bobby Howes and his film-star daughter Sally Ann, and the entire Crazy Gang not forgetting “Monsewer” Eddie Gray. Askey, knowing his daughter’s heart, invited as a surprise guest her secret love, the cinema heart-throb Herbert Lom.The same year Anthea made her cinema debut, backing up father in his starring vehicle The Love Match. This John Baxter production based on Glenn Melvyn’s successful play also featured Thora Hird as her mother, James Kenney, the handsome son of the popular “miserable” comedian Horace Kenney, and a guest star appearance by veteran comedian Robb Wilton in his radio role of Mr Muddlecombe JP.The following year she played her father’s daughter once again in Ramsbottom Rides Again, a comic western about the timid grandson of a tough guy sheriff.
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In the cast were the pop star Frankie Vaughan, Sharni Wallis and Sabrina, her father’s busty discovery from his BBC television series.Anthea Askey made her last film in 1959. This was father’s final starring vehicle, Make Mine a Million. He played a television make-up man while she did a guest star walk-on with her television co-star, Dickie Henderson. For by this time she had become one of the new stars of London’s latest television channel, the Independent Commercial Company, Associated-Rediffusion.She began as ever in a production starring her father. This was a serialised version of Love and Kisses, shown in five episodes at the end of 1955 and not much more than a direct full-frontal filming of the Glenn Melvyn stage play currently performing in Blackpool. The programmes were made by Jack Hylton Productions, who would make Arthur Askey’s final cinema films and most of his, and all of Anthea’s, television series. Hylton, once a dance band leader, now an impresario, was the contract comedy producer for ITV and, of course, agent for the Askeys.Next came Before Your Very Eyes (1956), taken over from the BBC and again starring father and daughter, followed by Living it Up (1957), a television version of Askey’s first ever radio series reuniting him with Dickie Murdoch 18 years later, this time they were living (on the programme) in a flat atop not Broadcasting House but Television House. Anthea played herself.In 1957 came the show that would make her a full-blown star at last. Beginning as The Dickie Henderson Show and later retitled The Dickie Henderson Half-hour, the series ran for several years. Dickie, whose first contact with Askey was singing with his sisters, the Henderson Twins, in the stage version of Band Waggon, played husband to Anthea’s wife.  In the later programmes, Anthea’s role was taken over by June Laverick.In 1956 Anthea had married Bill Stewart, her father’s stage manager in Love Match, and now fell pregnant. Unhappily their firstborn died when only three weeks old. Later she was able to present her father with three grandchildren, Jane, Andrew and William.anthea-askey-marriesShe returned to work in the 1980s and, although she had largely fallen from the public eye over the last decades, she continued to work in pantomime and on radio shows. In 1982 she had good reviews for her role of the Good Witch of the North in the play The Wizard Of Oz, and in 1984 she was, as the Financial Times observed a ‘splendidly articulate cat’ in the Richmond Theatre’s Dick Whittington. 

Tragically Anthea Askey died just a week before she was due to marry Will Fyffe Jnr, the pianist son of the Scottish comedian Will Fyffe.

Will Fyffe Jnr.  had his own musical spot at the keyboards of ocean-going cruise liners, the QE2 among them. He lived mainly in Brighton.

One of his best friends was Anthea Askey,  daughter of the comedy star Arthur, with whom he wrote and performed in a cabaret act as the offspring of two famous entertainers.

With Will Fyffe Junior. she appeared often in a show which drew on memories of both their fathers, and she died at a time when she was to due appear again with him. (They had planned to marry next month.)

Fyffe and Askey, also wrote a stage musical remembering Will Fyffe Sr. Sadly, it failed to catch the attention of today’s showbiz impresarios. Askey Jr and Fyffe Jr were close friends up to her death.

She usually managed to treat her cancer with good-humoured fortitude. She was told recently that a new cancer ‘cure’ had worked on mice. ‘Well,’ she observed, ‘I’m no bigger than a mouse.’ She leaves Will Fyffe Junior; and two sons and a daughter from her first marriage to Bill Stewart.

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Anthea Shirley Askey, actress: born London 2 March 1933; married 1956 Bill Stewart (two sons, one daughter, and one son deceased); died Worthing, West Sussex 28 February 1999

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The Marauders 1955

This film was on TELEVISION on TCM in the UK yesterday Sunday 20th November 2016 – and it has actually been on a few times as is the case with TCM but I welcome that – it gives you more than one chance to view. The Two male stars are Dan Duryea and Jeff Richards  THE MARAUDERS (1955)

Jeff Richards had appeared as Benjamin in  SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). For that matter, leading lady Jarma Lewis also had a scene in this famous musical.” She also appeared as one of Frank Sinatra’s girlfriends in THE TENDER TRAP (1955), and she and Richards co-starred in another film, IT’S A DOG’S LIFE (1955).

Richards plays Corey Everett, a desert homesteader whose newly dug well makes his property highly desired by powerful ranch owner John Rutherford (Harry Shannon). Rutherford, his son (John Hudson), and his consumptive bookkeeper Avery (Duryea), along with a bunch of mercenaries headed by the one-armed “Hook” (Keenan Wynn), plan to drive Corey out with guns blazing. Another homesteader (James Anderson), who’s giving up and heading east, stumbles onto Corey’s property, along with his wife Hannah (Lewis) and their son (David Kasday), just as the invaders launch their first skirmish. Although the man initially seems to be a good sort, helping Corey in the fight, it turns out he’s the friendly con man type, and as soon as he can he runs off to Rutherford’s camp to try to strike a deal for safe passage for his family — and is promptly killed for his trouble by the psychotic Avery.

The siege set up is made interesting by the location, which is a small ranch with a water well backed up against a mountain, and the fact that it will ultimately be one man, one woman and one child against a whole gang. As the gang come to be led by Duryea’s clearly unhinged Avery, they find Everett a most resourceful foe. With cunning tactics of war, including the manufacture of a grenade launcher, there’s a fascinating battle between brains and brawn.

Extra bite comes from the respective character dynamics at work in the two camps. In the Everett ranch a turn of events offers up a neat twist that scores high for dramatic impact, while in the Avery camp his General Bastardo/Napolean Complex has the men under his charge thirsting for his blood.
Sawtell provides a dramatic musical score and the Mecca, California locale is well used by Mayer and Marzorati for claustrophobic and sweaty peril purpose. Characterisations are colourful, especially Duryea on overdrive villainy and Wynn as the hook handed second in command who finds himself caught between loyalty and fear.

It’s classic B Western stuff and firmly of interest to fans of such productions.MARAUDERS was directed by Gerald Mayer , nephew of Louis B. Mayer. It was filmed by Harold Marzorati, who had a fairly short career but had a good Stewart Granger Western, GUN GLORY (1957), among his credits.

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Diana Dors and His Majesty O Keefe

I had not realised this – that Diana Dors had met Burt Lancaster in London – in his suite at Claridges - in the early  50s and he had offered her the part of Dalabo in his forthcoming film His Majesty O Keefe which was turned down by her then husband Dennis Hamilton – who was her business manager  – in favour of a Summer Season at Blackpool as it turned out.

I am a great  fan of Joan Rice who took the part – and was very good in it, but I also am an admirer of Diana Dors who was a very good actor.

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Above: Joan Rice and Burt Lancaster in a still from the film

It appears that Burt Lancster asked to see Diana at his suite at Claridges in London and indeed she did have this meeting alone with Burt but with her husband lurking somewhere below. She later tested for the part by darkening her skin a little, donning  a sarong, and wearing a black wig but Dennis would not let her take this part. It wouldn’t be much of a guess as to why.

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I am pleased however that Joan Rice got the part – but can’t help but wonder what the film would have been like with Diana in that role – but more than that the effect it would have had on her future because she may well have seized the opportunity of such a big film as this. Her husband thought better of her spending months in Fiji on a South Sea Island with Burt Lancaster.

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Odeon Movie Club – Canada

Interesting item here from one of the many Film Annuals produced and sold in England during the 40 s and 50 s.

This particular feature centres on the Odeon Cinema Clubs and their young members in Canada.

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This one, in fact,  in the  Boys and Girls Cinema Clubs Annual – was given as a Christmas present in 1951 – that much we know from the handwriting inside the front cover.

The thing that impresses me from this – and other – Film Annuals is the Colour – which was so rich, bright and glossy. Loved it.

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Kansas Pacific – 1953 Western

This film was on a number of times on TCM over last weekend – early November 2016 – and I watched it with interest. Firstly a well shot Colour Film and to be fair, quite a good story.

The leading lady was  Eve Miller – not someone I knew - but she was very good. Previously she had starred in The Big Trees with Kirk Douglas and after that and Kansas Pacific, she seemed to go somewhat down hill and appeared further down the cast list in films – and on many Television series. However she continued acting for many more years but not in the major roles she had in these two pictures.

Eve Miller.

Born – Marilyn Miller
8 August 23 She is born in Hollywood / Los Angeles, California
is raised in San Francisco, where her father is in the piano business
Early 40s works as a welder in the shipyard during the war
Early 45 works as a department store clerk and showgirl before signing with 20th Century-Fox
begins working at the famed Follies Bergere in San Francisco
45 is a showgirl in Diamond Horseshoe
is spotted by producer-director Ida Lupino who “gives her a first real break in pictures”
Early June 51 is heralded to start location filming for The Tanks Are Coming at Fort Knox, Kentucky
June 51 is replaced in Warner Brothers’ The Tanks Are Coming because studio bosses decide that a girl so extraordinarily pretty should not be wasted in a war drama
Summer 51 is on location in southern Humboldt, California, for several weeks for the filming of The Big Trees
an old fashioned movie technique returns to modern day Hollywood—studio musicians to render mood music so two actors can effectively portray a dramatic scene of parting. On the set of The Big Trees, she and Kirk Douglas cannot seem to achieve Director Felix E. Feist’s desired level of emotion. So, the two put their heads together and come up with the idea of mood music. After listening to a few Debussy melodies, they complete the desired affect on the first take.
February 52 the press claims she’s an Oakland girl
16 February 52 The Big Trees premiers in Eureka, California, at both the Eureka and State Theaters. She, Patrice Wymore, and Edgar Buchanan participate. City festivities begin; residents are invited to dress in period costumes. There is a logging truck parade.the-big-trees-1952-eve-miller
as part of the festivities, she and Patrice Wymore are “kidnapped” by a group of burly Paul Bunyans from Roseburg, Oregon. The actresses are seized by the invading woodsmen at the Eureka Inn and spirited away in a car despite the “resistance” put up by Eureka police.
columnist Harrison Carroll reports that she and Pat Wymore were kicked out of their own The Big Trees premiere at a Eureka, California, movie theater. As Pat tells it, she and Eve decided they would like to see the picture. There wasn’t a seat left in the house, so they sneaked up into the balcony in their evening clothes and perched on the steps. Presently, a fireman told them they’d have to leave. Pat admits she flew into a temper. ‘I told him I had been kicked out of better places than that, and then I stamped out of the theater.”
30 July 52 is the subject of Lydia Lane’s newspaper column: “Though Eve Miller was born in Hollywood, she told me she had to go to New York to realize her ambition to be in pictures. ‘As far back as I can remember,” Eve confided, ‘I dreamed some day of having a Hollywood contract.’”
When asked how much she feels her appearance has contributed to her success, she replies: “Appearance usually means the way you look, but I would rather say that the impression you make is the thing that counts. This consists of not only your appearance but of the way you talk, what you say and also how you smell.” Laughing, she continues, “I really think the English language needs another word — something that we could use when the nose was pleased so that the word smell could mean only when we didn’t like it. But anyway, the point I’m driving at is that perfume has played an important part in my life. A scent I was wearing started a chain of events which had a decisive impact on my career, every time I look at this particular bottle of perfume, inwardly I throw it a kiss.”
When asked about fragrance, she replies: “I have favorites, but I like to change around for the weather, time of day or the occasion. I don’t think the type of perfume you’d wear to a big party would be appropriate for a game of tennis. And then, too, certain fragrances are more attractive in hot weather than others.
“I think it’s a mistake to put perfume around your hair, ears or only on the upper parts of your body because perfume rises and so much of it is lost. I like to spray the hem of my petticoats, my stockings and my underthings. If you give a little thought to building a symphony of scents you’ll be surprised how effective this is. Not everyone may tell you how nice you smell, but they will enjoy being next to you.”
September 52 tours the Hollywood late spots with Kirk Douglas and his old pal Captain Paul Caruso
July 54 meets young actor Glase Lohman
c. December 54 becomes engaged to Universal-International bit player Glase Lohman. He’s about 29; she’s 21.
21 July 55 early in the day, she attempts suicide at her North Hollywood apartment after an argument with Lohman. When Lohman informs her that he won’t marry her until he’s financially stable, she stabs herself in the abdomen with a paring knife. Lohman tells the police that she brought up the subject of marriage and an argument ensued. Lohman says he tried to persuade her to keep calm, but when he started to leave her apartment she ran into the kitchen and exclaimed: “You will be sorry, because you will find me dead in the morning.”
the police find her on the kitchen floor, surrounded by letters she had written to Lohman. She is rushed to North Hollywood Receiving Hospital for emergency treatment and then taken to General Hospital, where she undergoes four hours of surgery for her knife wound.
17 August 73 as Eve Miller, she dies at age 50 in Van Nuys, California, by suicide

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Kansas Pacific” is another railroad picture that turns out to be quite good. It was produced by Allied Artists on a larger than normal budget for “B” western. It was shot in colour and contains some great shots of vintage trains as well as, some exciting battle sequences. There’s one particularly convincing attack where the confederate supporters blow up an entire train.

The story takes place just prior to the American Civil War. A railroad is being built by the Union Army to supply its western posts. Confederate sympathizers are trying to prevent its completion.

Union engineer John Nelson (Sterling Hayden) is sent out from Washington to oversee the building of the railroad. Construction boss Cal Bruce (Barton MacLane) and his engineer “Smokestack” (Harry Shannon) have been experiencing troubles from unknown sources. It turns out that southern sympathizer Bill Quantrill (Reed Hadley)is behind the problems. Bruce’s daughter Barbara (Eve Miller) is the token heroine who provides the love interest for Hayden.

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There are many familiar faces to western fans in the supporting cast. Members of Hadley’s gang include the likes of Douglas Fowley, Lane Bradford, Myron Healey, Riley Hill and a moustachioed Clayton Moore. James Griffith plays Joe Farley, a railroad guard. Hill was never a major player as a villain in westerns but he could always be singled out in the gang because he was usually clean cut and wore a “hero style” white hat. Moore of course was better known as TV’s “The Lone Ranger” and had appeared in many Republic and Columbia serials.

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Sterling Hayden was a big man,  and was always more convincing in his screen fights than many of his contemporaries. MacLane although giving a good performance, was usually on the wrong side of the law in his movies and was better suited to brutish villainous roles.

Good Colour Film about the railroad.

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Bill Beaudine – Legendary Film Director

William Beaudine was a prolific director of films throughout the Twenties, Thirties, Forties, and Fifties and in his early years was highly regarded for his ability and skill in films to such an extent that he was highly paid. He came to England in the mid Thirties and directed a couple of Will Hay films and one for George Formby. He directed Kidnapped in 1947 by then back in Hollywood and continued to involve himself with Television as well as films.

One-Shot Beaudine

William Beaudine started making films in 1909, bringing nearly fifty years of expertise so that he delivered nearly every film he directed on-time and on-budget. From May 1955 through September 1956, directed  five serials, many Circus Day episodes, and a full-length feature film for Disney.

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Background

Born William Washington Beaudine in the Bronx on January 15, 1892, his father was also William Beaudine, a driver for a milk company; his mother was Ella Moran. Bill Beaudine was the oldest of three sons. His father and his youngest brother Ted died of pneumonia in 1905, so by age thirteen he was sole support for his mother and little brother Harold. This early assumption of responsibility gave him a practical outlook on life and directing, a determination to keep working no matter what.

Beaudine entered show business in 1909, as a clerk at the Biograph Company in New York City. He doubled as an extra on D. W. Griffith shorts, worked as both cameraman and assistant director for Mack Sennett, while continuing to play bit parts. In October 1914 Bill was offered a job at Kalem Film Company in California. He immediately married his fiance Marguerite Fleischer, and after one year as an assistant director, he was promoted to director with Minnie the Tiger (1915). In 1916 he switched to Universal Film Manufacturing Company, directing shorts for them, on many of which he worked with writer Jack Cunningham. (Many years later, Bill Beaudine would hire Jack Cunningham Jr as an assistant director for Disney serials).

From 1918 to 1921 Beaudine went from one studio to another, as companies went under or decided they could do without him. His brother Harold also came out from New York as a director of silent shorts. He was eventually picked up by Warner Brothers, who often loaned him out. With Watch Your Step (1922) for Goldwyn, Bill Beaudine made the jump to feature length films (five reels), and by 1930 had gone freelance, and was living in a Beverly Hills mansion with his wife, four children, and servants.

One of his best films was Penrod and Sam (1931), but after that, he fell afoul of Sam Briskin at Columbia, and was out of work for six months, the longest period in his life. By the time he picked up work again at Paramount, all five of the banks in which he kept his savings had failed. Paramount itself went bankrupt, and Beaudine scrambled to find work wherever he could, sometimes directing shorts for MGM using the screen name “William X. Crowley”. He made his most successful film with W. C. Fields, The Old-Fashioned Way (1934), but despite its popularity he received only one job offer, from a British film company.

Beaudine was one of a number of experienced directors (including Raoul Walsh and Allan Dwan) who were brought to England from Hollywood in the 1930s to work on what were in all other respects very British productions. Beaudine directed four films there starring Will Hay, including Boys Will Be Boys (1935) and Where There’s a Will  (1936), and the George Formby comedy Feather Your Nest (1937).

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Beaudine returned to America in 1937 and had trouble re-establishing himself at the major studios. Once widely known as an A-list director of important productions, Beaudine had commanded a premium salary in the late 1920s that Hollywood producers of the late 1930s didn’t want to match. He worked briefly at Warner Brothers, with whom he had been associated in Britain, and then waited for offers on his terms. They never came. Beaudine had lost much of his personal fortune through no fault of his own (a bank he bought an interest in had failed, and much of his income was claimed by the British government in taxes).

In 1940 publicist-turned-producer Jed Buell approached Beaudine to direct an all-black-cast feature for Buell’s Dixie National Pictures. The salary was a flat $500 for one week’s work. Beaudine knew that if he accepted this job, he would henceforth be associated with low-budget films and would never command his old salary again, but with his finances at a low ebb Beaudine accepted the assignment.

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Returning to the states in 1938, he found that he was forgotten in Hollywood. He had difficulty getting and keeping jobs with major studios, so he went to work for “poverty row” independents. The films he made in the late thirties and forties were almost all “B” grade, and he soon acquired the reputation of a competent workman-like director, who was always well-prepared, and obsessed with maintaining the shooting schedule. He in turn grew a little cynical about the mediocre screenplays and barebone budgets he had to work with. When on one rare occasion he was admonished for falling behind schedule in making a shoestring potboiler, he replied “You mean someone out there is actually waiting to see this?” He was reportedly known for his refusal to do retakes, no matter what mistakes cropped up in the first shot, though the nickname “One-Shot” was not applied to him during his lifetime.

Contribution

Beaudine had known Walt Disney since the mid-twenties. In early May 1955 he approached Walt with an idea for a film about a teenage girl and her dog in the West. Walt liked the concept, and assigned his long-time friend Lillie Hayward to adapt it as a serial for the Mickey Mouse Club. Bill was hired for what he thought would be a twelve-week stint, directing Corky and White Shadow. There was no contract with the studio, just a handshake with Walt Disney. The twelve weeks would turn into sixteen months.

Before Corky and White Shadow could be scheduled for filming the Disney Studio had another directing assignment for Beaudine. He spent several weeks in June and early July directing Circus Boy shows, after which he was unexpectedly handed the reins for another serial to be filmed at Golden Oak Ranch. The Adventures of Spin and Marty had been originally assigned to Pete Lyons, who did all the directorial prep work on it. Beaudine was able to start filming on July 13, 1955, and finished it on September 3rd, with a week lost to an actor’s strike.

Directing 'The Adventures of Spin and Marty' Directing 'The Adventures of Spin and Marty' Directing 'The Adventures of Spin and Marty' Directing 'The Adventures of Spin and Marty'

This serial proved to be the single most popular feature of the Mickey Mouse Club, generating enormous amounts of fan mail. Beaudine used a spare, natural style that worked perfectly.  The first Spin and Marty serial has a rustic simplicity that markedly differs from the sequels. Beaudine wisely let the interaction of the boys carry the load, keeping the adults in the background whenever possible.

Beaudine returned to filming Circus Boy episodes during September, after which he could finally start production on Corky and White Shadow in October 1955. Location filming was done at Big Bear Lake and Corriganville, with interior scenes shot at the Burbank studio. For this, his own project, Beaudine employed a slightly campy directorial stance, somewhat akin to the exaggerations of the silent era from which he had got his start.

He was then given a feature film assignment for Disney. Westward Ho, the Wagons! starred Fess Parker as a wagon-train leader in the mid-19th Century. The movie was shot on location during the early spring of 1956. The film’s second unit director, Yakima Canutt, handled the large-scale action sequences, while Beaudine took care of the interrelationships between characters in the wagon train and the Indians. Filming completed in mid-spring of 1956, but the picture, though profitable, was not a great success when released later that year.

At the start of the second season of the Mickey Mouse Club, Beaudine directed a short semi-documentary serial called Sierra Pack Trip. In late spring he was handed a hurriedly written serial called Adventure in Dairyland, to be filmed on location in Madison, Wisconsin. This was a replacement for the second What I Want To Be serial, which had been cancelled. This serial, filmed in June 1956, starred Annette Funicello and Sammy Ogg, and marked the Disney debut of Kevin Corcoran. All three actors would also appear in Beaudine’s next assignment, Further Adventures of Spin and Marty, which started filming July 30, 1956. On September 4th, with several episodes still left to film, Beaudine fell ill with peritonitis, and was replaced by dialogue coach Fred Hartsook. The serial was shortened by several pages of script due to his illness. It would be two years before William Beaudine Sr returned to Disney.

 

Aftermath

Beaudine directed several episodes of Walt Disney Presents following the end of the Mickey Mouse Club. For the completion of a two-part serial called Moochie of the Little League (1959), he was presented with a golden megaphone trophy by actor Kevin Corcoran, in celebration of his fifty years of film-making. He then moved over to CBS where he directed many episodes of Lassie during the sixties.

In the mid-sixties Beaudine made a couple of campy teen-horror-westerns, with titles like Billy the Kid vs Dracula, and directed episodes of the television show The Green Hornet. He also directed the televised 40th Anniversary Celebration for Mickey Mouse in 1968, in which twelve of the original Mouseketeers also took part. By this time Beaudine was the longest-working director in cinema history, and was recognised  with a AFI tribute in 1969. He died March 18, 1970, in Canoga Park, California, of uremic poisoning.

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The Cabin in The Clearing – BBC TV 1954

For some reason I remember this as a child from long ago and remember it having good studio sets with trees and the Cabin and a lot of foliage but this was obviously studio bound. In those days it was not possible to transmit from outside the studios and any such action had to be filmed and slotted into the ‘live’ programme.  It seems that Ewen Solon played Mul keep mo which is a name that I have remembered and even used from time to time over the years – although it is difficult to think of such a name being slotted into a conversation I must say. Anyway I came across this summary of the actual play and storyline as follows :-

The Cabin in the Clearing’ (1954)

Besieged in their log cabin by Shawnee Indians, Silas Sutherland, his wife Polly, and his daughter Alice, are cut off from all help. Their negro servant Scipio is captured, whilst out looking for an escaped cow, by the Indians who had already found and eaten the cow, and held prisoner in the forest outside, though lurking nearby are Mul-keep-mo, a friendly Miami Indian and young Brayton Ripley, a white scout. Scipio escapes by clubbing his guard with the cow’s skull and then joins Brayton Ripley. But the Indians have kindled a fire under the wall of the cabin . . .

There was a love interest between Brayton and Alice Sutherland. Brayton was “blood brother” to Mul-keep-mo, each saving the other’s life.  There were tomahawk fights between the Indians. The Sutherland women attempted to escape by waggon but were themselves captured, but saved by the men.

A television play in 5 episodes. Adapted by Felix Felton and Susan Ashman from the novel by E.S. Ellis. Produced by Rex Tucker and directed by Patrick Dowling.

Cast: Silas Sutherland – Shaun Sutton; Polly his wife – Peggy Mount; Alice, his daughter – Ann Hanslip; Scipio – Charles Swain; Brayton Ripley – Derek Aylward; Mul-keep-mo – Ewen Solon; Haw-bu-da – Carl Duering; The Owl – Shaw Taylor; Shawnee Indians – Saul David, John Hoskin.

Settings by Richard Henry.

The incidental music was Dvorak’s New World Symphony

1—’Friends and Foes’
‘The Redskins had dug up the hatchet-the Miami and Shawnee tribes were attacking the white settlers, and we in our lonely cabin were in deadly peril….’

2—’Besieged’
Besieged n their log cabin in the Ohio wilderness, with Chief Haw-hu-da and his Shawnee Indians on the warpath outside, Silas Sutherland and his wife and daughter have no choice but to fight on in the hope that help will come from the blockhouse fifty miles away. But outside in the forest, unknown to the Indians, are Brayton Ripley-a young woodsman friend of the family-and Mul-keep-mo, a Miami Indian, whose life Ripley had saved.

3—’Ordeal by Fire’
Besieged in their log cabin by Shawnee Indians Silas Sutherland, his wife Polly, and his daughter Alice, are cut off from all help. Their servant Scipio is held prisoner in the forest outside, though lurking nearby are Mul-keep-mo, a friendly Miami Indian, and young Brayton Ripley, a white scout. But the Indians have kindled a fire under the wall of the cabin…..

4—’A Desperate Plan’

5—’The Break-Out’

The BBC screened another production of the play in 1958.

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Showboat 1951

What a colourful film this one was. I have been over in Australia and whilst there purchased  the DVD of Showboat in Cairns and watched it at my daughters home. Beautiful colour and those close ups of Ava Gardner in technicolor are just terrific.

The songs which we all know are unforgettable and some of the high notes hit by Kathryn Grayson are simply superb. She plays the part of Magnolia very well and Howard Keel is Gaylord Ravenal -  the no good gambler, and he too is good.

William Warfield delivers the song ‘Old Man River’  and to be fair does it well although for me he sings it too slowly but it is a thankless task really to sing a powerful song made famous – and almost belonging to – the legendary Paul Robson who had been in the successful stage versions both on Broadway and in the West End of London.

Cotton Blossom - Showboat 1951Above is the actual Showboat or The Cotton Blossom as it is on the MGM backlot.Showboat 1951 film

I have seen the 1936 Black and White version which I really liked and preferred in many ways.  Paul Robson was of course in this film and needless to say he was superb.

The film was a great success at the Box Office grossing worldwide some 7.61 million dollars and presumably the later TV release, then the video and DVD arrival would have further boosted these figures many years later.

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