Archie Duncan – Well Known Stage, Television and Film Actor

Sword of Lancelot Archie DuncanWritten by Archie Duncan’s Great Niece

Archie Duncan was my great uncle (my grandmothers brother) and I have some lovely memories of times spent in his company as a child. He lived in a flat which was on the top floor of a large victorian property and would often recieve his guests while in bed wearing a burgandy velvet smoking jacket. He was a kind and generous man and always made me feel special, taking me backstage at the London Palladium for example and obtaining autographs of various actors and actresses for myself and my friends. Archie never married or had children though I think he had a long term relationship with an actress called Betty Cardinew (I’m not sure if that’s the correct spelling).

Theatre Play with Archie DuncanTheatre Play with Archie Duncan 2Theatre Play with Archie Duncan 3
After his death I inhereted what I consider to be a unique piece of television history. It comes in the form of a get well message sent to him by cast and crew of the 1950′s series The Adventures Of Robin Hood following his accident on set when he prevented a horse from bolting into a crowd of onlookers. For this act of bravery he was awarded the Queens Medal for Gallantry. The message is on parchment paper and contains signatures of about 30 people including Richard Greene . There is a poem too, describing with humour the events which took place on that day and the subsequent chaos as shooting schedules were disrupted.

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Roy Rogers in England – at Walsall and Scotland – Edinburgh and Glasgow 1954

Roy Rogers In England

March 1, 1954 none other than Roy Rogers and Trigger appeared at the Savoy Walsall ABC Minors – and what a draw that would have been.

He apparently stayed at the Queens Hotel in Birmingham – and Trigger at the stables of  the Mitchells and Butler Brewery

With Roy of course was his wife Dale Evans who he had met a decade before on the set of The Cowboy and the Senorita.

Distinctive in his white stetson with its silver hatband and his hand-tooled boots, the Wild West hero’s tour was a smash hit

Roy Rogers in Edinburgh 1954

 

Roy Rogers and Trigger, Edinburgh 1954

This is singing cowboy Roy Rogers and wife Dale Evans taking their golden palomino horse Trigger up the stairs at the Caledonian Hotel in the capital in February, 1954. Roy had appeared in many TV shows and films with Trigger who really was an exceptional horse. To drum up publicity on their British tour they would often book into their hotel with Trigger much to the delight of fans.

The crowd are genuinely happy to see Roy and Trigger, although there must be a nervous hotel manager lurking in the background somewhere fretting about his carpets.

The story goes that the couple visited an orphanage in Edinburgh where a 13-year-old girl, Marion Fleming, sang Won’t You Buy My Pretty Flowers? and the couple promptly adopted her and took her back to America. Think it’s maybe a little more complicated to do these days.

Roy Rogers and Marion

Above: Roy Rogers and Marion Fleming singing together.

Also this snippet from one of the forums :-
Roy Rogers did visit Glasgow, he and Dale Evans did have a room in The Central Hotel and he booked one for trigger who preferred the stables in Parliamentary Road (or was it the southside) He did ride Trigger down the hotel staircase.He also visited Edinburgh. While entertaining at Dunforth Orphanage they met 13 year old Marion Fleming who became their fourth foster child.

Another very sad report on the tragic deaths of two of their children :

Off the well-documented happy trails of their on-screen magnetism, Dale and Roy blazed a trail of compassion, caring for their Down-Syndrome baby Robin, who died before her second birthday. Dale’s best-selling book ‘Angel Unaware’, a tribute to Robin, affected millions of special needs children and their families. Also during this period, Dale penned with Robin in mind the trademark chorus “Happy Trails to you until we meet again.”

Then, in 1964, their 12-year-old daughter Debbie was killed in a bus accident during a mission trip to Mexico. And, less than one year later, their son Sandy had a freak accident and choked to death while stationed with the military in Germany.

“You are not supposed to bury your children,” said their eldest son Roy Rogers Jr., choking back tears in the film. “People realised their faith was real the way they dealt with tragedy.”

“Mom and dad knew something good had to come from whatever was bad,” said Marion Fleming Swift, a foster daughter Rogers and Evans adopted from Scotland. Out of the tragedies came more books, the proceeds of which were donated to humanitarian organisations like World Vision and Campus Crusade for Christ.

 

 

 

 

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Anthony Quayle’s London Home

I have just come across this letter that Anthony Quayle wrote to one of his fans in January of 1965 – and from the Letter Heading we can see that his address was in Pelham Crescent, London SW7

Anthony Quayle

 

The letter was written in 1965, so at that time he had been married to Dorothy Hyson for quite a few years and their Three Children would have been teenagers. His career in the Theatre and Films was pretty much at its peak then  – his first love was the theatre but financially films provided a very lucrative acting experience no doubt.

This home was in a very sought after part of London both then  and now – particularly now because this house in Pelham Crescent was sold very recently in fact, in February 0f 2018 for £ 10,750,000 – a princely sum by any standards.

Pelham Crescent London SW7

I am not sure that the family would have kept the house on after his death – indeed I would rather doubt it.

Pelham Crescent London SW7 2

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Joan Rice in Rebecca

Now this heading may well be mis-leading to us film fans of the era but Joan Rice did star in Rebecca but this time on stage at The Theatre Royal  in Hanley, Stoke on Trent – and maybe toured around with it – I am not sure about this though.

I imagine she would play Mrs De Winter but who played her husband and Mrs Danvers is not clear

Joan Rice On Stage

This Poster at the time shows the lovely Joan Rice taking Star Billing in the famous Daphne Du Maurier story

joan rice programme

Joan Rice also toured provincial theatres in A View from The Bridge which she always maintained was her own favourite play.

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Dual In the Jungle 1954

We have looked at this film before – it is quite a good adventure film set in Africa, Very colourful and full of action with a thrilling climatic finale.

However I came across this picture in an old Film Annual in fact the Cinema Clubs Annual  - I have collected a lot of them over the years and quite often just browse through them on an evening.

Duel In The Jungle

On the Jungle set of Dual In The Jungle at Elstree Studios – this shows stars Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews showing youngsters Margaret Watson and Ian MacKay a souvenir from their travels.  I am sure this type of souvenir would NOT be acceptable today.

Dual in the Jungle 1

Dual in the Jungle 2

 

Portions of the film were shot in South Africa at Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, in Bechuanaland (now Botswana), and at Victoria Falls (on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border).

However an October 1953 Daily Variety news item stated that scenes were shot at Kruger National Park.

During production, this was the last film for assistant director Anthony Kelly. He died when he was thrown from his overturned canoe into a whirlpool on the Zambesi River and then into the jaws of crocodiles

Actually his body was never found and one of the theories is that he was eaten by crocodiles after he drowned whilst trying to save the camera equipment in the upturned boat.

 

 

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The Golden Stallion – In Trucolor 1949

Apparently this Roy Rogers film is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favourites.

The Golden Stallion

It was directed by prolific B-movie/serial specialist, William Witney, and co-stars Dale Evans and Trigger, “The Smartest Horse in the Movies.” The storyline involves a diamond smuggling operation in which Trigger is enlisted to replace the stallion of the title when he goes missing. Trigger was separated from Rogers in the first place when he took the fall for his “best friend” following a (false) accusation of murder. Had he not done so, Trigger would have been killed in an instant.

The Golden Stallion 3

Along the way  the bad guys are outsmarted and Trigger and the stallion produce a foal, Trigger Jr.

Roy Rogers 2

 

Filming The Golden Stallion

In the New York Times article, “Watching Movies With Quentin Tarantino” , he discusses the film in depth, finding the relationship between Rogers and Trigger particularly moving: “You know, in some movies, a cowboy might go to jail to save his best friend from being shot down dead. Well, Trigger is Roy’s best friend. It’s the easiest leap to have him do that here, yet it’s so powerful and so unexpected. What’s great is that you buy it, you absolutely buy it, and I don’t know that I really would buy it from anybody else but Roy and Trigger.”

Roy Rogers

It should be noted that “The Golden Stallion” is one of Rogers’ more “mature” efforts, and that it’s more of a drama than a musical. Although it doesn’t seem to have much in common with his own work, Tarantino fanatics are sure to want to check it out to see why he holds Witney — along with Rogers, Evans and Trigger — in such high esteem.

The Golden Stallion 2

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Duel of the Titans – Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott

Dual of the Titans 6

Duel of the Titans. The legendary brothers Romulus and Remus go into conflict as to who will ultimately survive and found the city of Caesars.  Steve Reeves (Romulus) and Gordon Scott (Remus) are brought into competition.

They are shown from their earliest beginnings as abandoned babes on the Tiber River, destined to face all sorts of challenges. First come their adventures after they are adopted by a female wolf as her own offspring. Then they later handle catastrophes like an erupting volcano or combat with an angry bear. Once the two brothers have reached adulthood, they become enemies, as Remus seeks to asert his power and Romulus seeks to contain him.

Dual of the Titans

Dual of the Titans 2

This is an enjoyable film with struggles, love and hatred, tortures and including spectacular  battle scenes. Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott are perfect as the mythical heroes who encounter pretty risky situations while trying to find a location for the foundation a city.

I imagine they had a great time making this film in Italy.

Dual of the Titans 3

When this film is seen  in ideal circumstances— with an excellent print and in the original widescreen format —  DUEL OF THE TITANS  is one of the best.

Dual of the Titans 4

This is not a muscleman fantasy with superhuman feats of strength, like HERCULES, but a serious retelling of the foundation myth of Rome. Various elements of the Romulus and Remus story are freely but intelligently reinterpreted, the sets and costumes have a convincing  look, and the larger-than-life characters of the legendary Twins are strongly portrayed by Gordon Scott and Steve Reeves. Both actors are at the peak of their considerable cinematic charisma. (Virna Lisi as Julia and Ornella Vanoni  are also impressive!)

Dual of the Titans 5

I liked Steve Reeves – he had a limited range of course but made the very best of what he could do. Gordon Scott also – from the peak of his career in the Tarzan films – where he did pretty well – after following Lex Barker and Johnny Weismuller in the role – and this was a pretty tough act to follow. Lex had proved a brilliant Tarzan after the legendary Johnny.

 

Dual of the Titans 7

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Act of Murder 1964

Now this one is a really terrific film. Part of the Edgar Wallace series made in the late 50s and into the 60s – and this one like most of them only runs for 62 minutes but certainly packs a punch – as we the viewers,  are unable to work out just where this one is going.

John Carson plays the spurned lover of Justine Lord (who is given many close-ups by James Wilson’s excellent camera work) while Anthony Bate plays the wary husband. The plot is unusual, and the tension mounts, as Carson plays a dangerous psychological game. Twenty minutes in you  think you know where this is going but the plot takes some twists and turns.

Act of Murder

Act of Murder 2

Act of Murder 3

This was the directorial debut of Alan Bridges, and I just loved the change of pace and style with unusual camera angles and intense close-ups particularly of the very lovely Justine Lord who played her part brilliantly and very confidently too. That could be said also of John Carson and Anthony Bate – both of whom were excellent in this one – and both went on to have long and successful careers.

Act of Murder 4

 

At times this is worrying and sinister.

Act of Murder 8

Act of Murder 5

Above: A grizzly find for Justine Lord and Anthony Bate.

Act of Murder 6

Above: Anthony Bate starting to realise what might be going on. He now walks away troubled.

Act of Murder 7

Above: John Carson runs awaybut from what

It is one that I do remember seeing at the cinema – and I particularly remember the ending from that time but not much else.  Please do get a copy of this and watch it. You will not be disappointed.

Justine Lord BELOW:

Justine Lord

Justine Lord (born Jennifer Schooling; 1937, Bromley, Kent) is an English actress, active on television throughout the 1960s.

She began her acting career in repertory theatre, and in the 1960s made guest appearances on The Avengers, The Saint, The Prisoner (“The Girl Who Was Death”, 1968) and Man in a Suitcase as well as playing regular roles on Crossroads, Compact, The Troubleshooters and The Doctors

Justine Lord married James Ridler in 1971.

After being THE GIRL in The Prisoner and all that, she slipped away to New Zealand  It believed that  she married a schoolteacher and basically became a dorm matron to his pupils. They returned to the UK late 70s or early 80s

Below In an Episode of The Saint – The Fiction Makers

Justine Lord and Roger Moore inTheSaint-TheFictionMakers

Early Life

She had to work and to express herself. Her early ballet ambitions gave way to acting aspirations, and she switched to straight acting , displaying her sense of comedy very early in her new career when she played the bride in SAILOR BEWARE ! on tour, and then toured with the Hulberts in STAR MAKER.

She then went into repertory, appeared in SALAD DAYS, and made her television debut in CHARLESWORTH (as a nun !) She found her niche in television, with leads in series such as THE AVENGERS, NO HIDING PLACE, GIDEON’S WAY, THE BARON, MAN IN A SUITCASE, a running role in COMPACT, and setting up an all-time record by being Roger Moore’s leading lady six times in THE SAINT. She has also appeared in several feature films, including WARLOVER, TAMAHINE, and RING OF SPIES, and, returning to the theatre, has played Shakespeare at the Bristol Old Vic. Since THE PRISONER she has appeared in THE TROUBLESHOOTERS and CROSSROADS, amongst other things, and now prefers to list the programmes she has NOT appeared in ! Between roles she is active in teaching at a school in Kent.

‘I could never be happy as a member of a group. It didn’t take me long to realise that I would never become a great ballerina, and I simply couldn’t bear the thought of being just one of a corps de ballet. And I could never subject myself to the rigid discipline required’

Not only did she do Shakespeare in her early days, at the Bristol Old Vic, but also George Bernard Shaw. Specifically, in 1964, ‘Arms and the Man’, with John Franklyn Robbins, Freddie Jaeger, Edith MacArthur, Dudley Jones, Patricia Brake.
She remarried and moved to the Dordogne in mid-80s. She spent a number of years as a semi-pro tennis player but recently had a hip operation. Turned up recently at a Prisoner convention in Portmeirion

 

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The Phantom of the Opera 1943 with Claude Rains

We have become so used to the wonderful Andrew Lloyd Webber stage version of this story that this older Colour film version goes by these days mostly un-noticed which is a great pity because this is a good film. There was a later version made by Hammer Films in England with Herbert Lom as the Phantom made in 1959 – it too was good.

Violinist Erique Claudin played by Claude Rains, is dismissed from the Paris Opera House after revealing that he is losing the use of the fingers of his left hand. Unbeknown to the conductor, who assumes Claudin is able to support himself,  the musician has used all his money to help anonymously fund the voice lessons for Christine Dubois, a young soprano with whom he has fallen in love.  In a desperate attempt to earn money, Claudin submits a piano concerto he has written for publication.

Claude Raines as he Phantom of the Opera

After submitting it and not hearing a response, he becomes worried and returns to the publishers, Pleyel & Desjardins, to ask about it. No one there knows what happened to it, and do not seem to care. Claudin persists, but Maurice Pleyel rudely tells him to leave and goes back to the etchings he was working on.

The Phantom of the Opera

Finally giving up, Claudin stands there for a moment and hangs his head sadly. Someone begins to play music in the next room, and he looks up in shock when he hears it. It is his concerto that is merely being endorsed and praised by Franz Liszt. Convinced that Pleyel is trying to steal his concerto, Claudin leaps up and begins to strangle him. Just as he tosses the body of Pleyel to the floor, Georgette, the publisher’s assistant, throws etching acid at Claudin. Screaming and wailing, he dashes out the door clutching his face. Now being hunted down by the police for murder, he flees to the sewers of the Opera. Claudin steals a prop mask from the costume department to cover his now-disfigured face.

The Phantom of the Opera 4

Above – The Paris Opera House

Back now to the Hammer version with Herbert Lom.
Herbert Lom as The Phantom of the Opera
In this particular “Phantom,” from Hammer Studios, the Phantom (Herbert Lom), and here Christine’s suitor is the manager of the opera house (Edward de Souza). There is also a real villain, a plagiarist in the form of Lord d’Arcy (Michael Gough).
Michael Gough in The Phantom of the Opera
Michael Gough is a really wicked villain and the supposed composer of the opera; Edward de Souza is a  a good romantic interest for Christine; and Heather Sears as Christine is very sweet.
Herbert Lom  is a great Phantom although is not a huge role in this film, but an effective and highly sympathetic one.
Herbert Lom as The Phantom
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Monster from the Ocean Floor 1954

This was the producing debut of the B-movie king Roger Corman.

Many of his films were about unknown dangers lurking in the vast and unexplored ocean, and he produced/directed many profitable ones. In this one we have a giant one-eyed octopus skulking amongst a coastline in Mexico.

Monster from the Ocean Floor 1954

While holidaying in Mexico, Julie Blair (Anne Kimbell) learns about a mysterious monster who has eaten various residents of the sea-side town. The only clues it leaves behinds are massive drag marks that resident Pablo (director Wyott Ordung) describes as “not a seal.”

Marine biologist Steve Dunning (Stuart Wade) picks her up in his mini-submarine and the two hit it off,  but Steve is not at all convinced by Julie’s concerns about the mythical creature. With Steve moving on for further exploration, Julie is left on her own, with one of the local residents whispering in Pablo’s ear that a human sacrifice may cause the creature to go back into hibernation.

I didn’t know much about the two leading actors in this film but it looks as though it was Stuart Wade’s debut film. He seemed to continue until 1964 in roles – some not credited but at least  he took one of the starring roles in this one. I will try to find out more about him.

Anne Kimbell  had a more successful acting career – in fact she did come to London and appeared in a West End play directed by Vivien Leigh – and met and married her husband here,  who was in the diplomatic service – so after films she lived in various place in the world with her family.

She does seem to have been an interesting person.

Anne Kimbell

 Anne Kimbell with Bomba in The Golden Idol

Above – Anne Kimbell with Johnny Sheffield in Bomba and The Golden Idol 1954

The same year as Monster from the Ocean Floor

In 1992, Anne Kimbell travelled to Colorado with the intention of purchasing a horse ranch.  She acquired the ranch as planned, but also purchased the Jones Theater in Westcliffe, Colorado,  which the previous owner had intended to convert into a Laundromat.  She wanted to preserve the theater as a working cultural landmark in the Wet Mountain Valley.  She founded the Westcliffe Centre for the Performing Arts and based it at the theatre.  She and her business partner, Tom Stagg, expanded the WCPA and oversaw the addition of the new Studio 2 onto the existing Jones Theater.

Anne  Kimbell  also developed the Shakespeare in the Park festival, which is now held annually in Westcliffe.She served as the WCPA’s president, producer and, finally, its artistic director until her death in 2017.

 She developed women’s cultural programs in Tunisia  and a school for women in Chad.

 She was the author of several novels, including To Catch a Spy, The Ibeji Twins and Assignment Paris.

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