Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 and Last Days of Denham Film Studios

 

Any film made at the legendary Denham  Film Studios is likely to be dear to my heart, as to me that location  epitomises all that is best in British Films.  Denham had been built by Alexander Korda on a scale that put it far larger than any studio in England or Europe – and certainly on a par with the Hollywood ones.

However surprisingly to me, even though this was very much a Korda picture, this film was made at Shepperton – and on location in the Scottish Highlands

This could be explained now I think of it,  because the studios had changed hands in 1945 when Sir Alexander Korda purchased British Lion Films, giving him a controlling interest in  Shepperton Studios

Maybe if this film had been made at Denham it would have fared better - that seems an illogical statement but you just never know.

David Niven said that throughout the filming there was never a finished script and it seemed to be just made up as they went along – as though this were a reason for its lack of early success – but when I think about it, only a few years earlier in Hollywood, that is exactly how things went during the filming of Casablanca – and look how that turned out

 

No – David Niven was just looking for excuses – and that seems a lame one to me

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 5

 

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 6

 

David Niven as Bonnie Prince Charlie – in my book woefully mis-cast

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948

 

I just love these Studio scenes

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 2

 

 Another posed still – again in the Studio – Margaret Leighton as Flora McDonald

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 3

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie 1948 4

 

This is another great set and so realistic – I do have another similar picture showing this film set. Very Impressive.

Denham Film Studios – someone who had worked there much of his working life – BELOW

Denham Film Studios

Herbert Smith (1901-1986) started sweeping the floors at Denham Film Studios in Buckinghamshire when he was 13 years old. He eventually became controller of the premier British studios from June 1945 until 1950. Above is a picture of Herbert (pointing towards his old office) taken on his last visit there in 1977 .

Shortly afterwards a golden era of film history ended, when those once famous studios (built by Sir Alexander Korda in 1935) were demolished.

Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) was the last major motion picture to be produced at that massive film complex.

 

 

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The Magic Carpet 1951

This film  is a low budget  Saturday matinée type film from the 1950′s but in fairness that is exactly what it was meant to be – a bit of colourful fun.

It is not dis-similar to the  1950 Universal Studio Tony Curtis “Son Of Ali Baba” type films and “Son Of Sinbad” with Vincent Price. These films may not be great, but they were really good for us young kids – at the time wanting to see these exotic adventures - and somehow we all grew up with the Hollywood version of what it was like in those far off days. Probably nothing like reality but we weren’t bothered about that.

 The Magic Carpet 1951

 

The interesting thing about the film was that  how Lucille Ball who was still under contract to Columbia did not want to do this film and the Studio Heads didn’t think that she would,  but she accepted and as soon as the film was completed she left.

Can’t say that I am – or was ever – a fan of Lucille Ball so I will quickly move on to Patricia Medina who I did like. She was at the time of this film married to Richard Greene our own Robin Hood – but that marriage ended in divorce in 1951 – about the time this was released –  and she married Joseph Cotton and lived her life in California.

I have been very lucky to find a rare interview on Youtube  with Patricia Medina – it is 30 minutes long but really interesting and insightful – trouble is, it seems impossible to transfer it on to this Blog.

She talks about her film life and work and being signed by MGM without a screen test – one of only three who could say that and one was Mickey Rooney. She also talked quite warmly of her first husband Richard Greene and said that he was probably the most handsome man she ever met.  However she describes Jospeh Cotton as the love of her life – she said that in thirty years of marriage they only spent one night apart – and she said that was Hell.

Jospeh Cotton and Patricia Medina were married at the home of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones in 1960     and there were many film people there – and the happy couple went on to have a wonderfully fulfilling and loving marriage.

Patricia and Joseph on their wedding day

After his death she admitted to sinking into depths of despair and sadness but soldiered on.  Patricia Medina said that if she watched one of his films on Television it would make her would cry – particularly if his voice came from the TV even when she might have been in another room

 

The Magic Carpet 1951 2

 

 

THE MAGIC CARPET is great fun. A Sam Katzman Super Cinecolor  costume extravaganza with John Agar, Patricia Medina and Lucille Ball 

Apparently that year Monogram’s ALADDIN and HIAWATHA were also in Super cine-color.

The Magic Carpet 1951 3

A Newspaper advertisement for the film

The Magic Carpet 1951 4

A very colourful scene – In SuperCinecolor

Super Cinecolor

Super Cinecolor

The Magic Carpet 1951 5

ABOVE – John Agar and Patricia Medina

Raymon Burr as The Grand Vizier

Raymon Burr in The Magic Carpet.  A couple of years before his role in Rear Window – and not too long before he found fame and success with Perry Mason

Viewmaster

Viewmaster

Sometimes with these films you could but a Viewmaster – a series of colour slides from the film that you viewed through a special gadget – above is the actual Viewmaster and  ‘The Magic Carpet’  circular slide show from the film

 

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Kon Tiki – Film 1951

 

One of the most amazing stories ever to be seen on the screen is shown in ‘The Kon-Tiki Expedition’. The whole film is made up of shots taken on the actual voyage across the Pacific Ocean just after the war – and this documentary style film which was Swedish – as far as I can see was taken on by RKO Radio Pictures and given a worldwide release.

Kon-Tiki 1

 

I remember the publicity it got at the time – quite often featured on BBC Television

Kon-Tiki

 

ABOVE -  The Kon-Tiki Adventurers -  Thor Heyerdahl, Knut Haugland, Erik Hesselberg, Torstein Raaby, Herman Watzinger and Bengt Danielsson

This voyage was one of the most thrilling adventure of modern times in 1947 when Thor Heyerdahl and his crew sailed across the Pacific Ocean on a flimsy raft from Peru to the Polynesian Islands – a distance of 4300 miles.

This film was taken on the voyage so almost a diary of what went on. 8,000 ft of film was shot during the voyage

 

Kon-Tiki 2

 

ABOVE – A steady Hand on the Tiller – but just look at those mountainous seas behind him

Kon-Tiki 7

 

ABOVE – This picture I have found just has the caption ‘ Man Overboard’

 

Kon-Tiki 3

 

Above – a captured shark – apparently sharks kept the crew company and sometimes threatened disaster to the frail craft.

 

Kon-Tiki 4

 

ABOVE – Thor Heyerdahl the skipper contemplates the next meal

On April 28, 1947,  Thor Heyerdahl and five fellow scientists boarded their wooden raft, the Kon-Tiki, to sail from South America to the Polynesian Islands – they reached Raroia in the Pacific 101 days later – he brought his 16mm camera to document the journey. After the expedition, he was offered $200 for the unedited footage, but he refused – he wanted to use it for lectures.

Sweden’s Artfilm was the only Scandinavian laboratory with an optical printer that could transfer 16mm material to 35mm negative and, on January 13 1950, Kon-Tiki had its world premiere in Stockholm. Two years later it became the first (and still only) Norwegian full-length film to win an Oscar, for Best Documentary Feature

 

Kon-Tiki 5

 

It looks likely to be fish – and a whopper too.

 

Kon-Tiki 6

 

ABOVE – Journey’s End – the mariners land on a coral reef in Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean – after 101 days afloat.

 

 

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Alf Ventress – William Simons

From ‘Where No Vultures Fly’  released in 1952 and filmed in East Africa to ‘Heartbeat’ on the North Yorkshire Moors, William Simons the actor famous for playing Alf Ventress for 18 years had been a successful actor on screen throughout the intervening years.

William Simons

William Simons with Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan – Where No Vultures Fly

Where-No-Vultures-Fly-Scene

William Simons with Anthony Steel and Dinah Sheridan – Where No Vultures Fly

Where No Vultures Fly was particularly impressive being filmed in that wonderful Technicolor process and with such African locations and beautiful clear blue skies this just added to its charm. Apparently the newly released DVD which has been digitally remastered is equally stunning when viewed. It was this aspect that made this film so popular at the Box Office – and also of course it was chosen as the Royal Premier of 1952

A sequel to this ‘West of Zanzibar’ was released in 1954 with, again Anthony Steel but this time Sheila Sim played his wife – William Simons also starred.

When you look back at his career, it seems that he was never out of work from 1952 right up to the end of ‘Heartbeat’ in 2011. In fact although he appeared as Alf Ventress in 355 episodes, he was also in The Royal which was a spin-off show – and very good too – in fact he was in 6 of these episodes, but he had been in Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Inspector Alleyn and many many more.

Alf Ventress

His portrayal of Alf Ventress was perfect. We learned so m uch about Alf over the years but although Mrs Ventress his wife was often referred to, she never appeared much like Captain Mainwairing’s wife in Dad’s Army.  When referring to his wife he always said ‘Mrs Ventress’ although she did seem to be a formidable woman or so we imagined.   I well remember one episode when there was a dramatic climax to the story and crooks had been cornered along with Alf in a farmyard. There was a lot of shooting and when it was all over his colleagues feared for Alf’s safety but he emerged from a farm building unscathed. When asked how he had evaded the gunman, Alf said that ‘My Commando training and experience in the War had taught me how to hide from gun fire’ then added ‘ and 30 years of marriage to Mrs. Ventress has taught me when to lie low’

Brilliant lines, I thought – and perfectly delivered by Alf

Only last September 2018, we heard that another ‘Heartbeat’ regular Peter Benson who played Bernie Scripps had died. He had played in 235 episodes and one for The Royal.

Alf Ventress 2

 

A publicity Still – William Simons as Alf Ventress – in real life William was a non smoker and herbal cigarettes were used when filming.

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Kynaston Reeves as Quelch – Billy Bunter on BBC Television

I am thinking  back now to one of my favourite horror films of the 1950s and this one was a British Picture.  ‘Fiend Without a Face’ 1958 originally had a budget of £ 50,000 but this stretched to £80,000 by the time they had finished with extra special effects – quite a meagre amount even by the standards of those days

It starred among others Kynaston Reeves – who was famous as playing Quelch the Headmaster in Billy Bunter of BBC Television just before this film was made.

Kynaston Reeves had played one of his  notable acting parts on television, namely that of Henry Quelch, form master to theFat Owl of the Remove‘,  Billy Bunter, in the long-running television series Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School. He was actually in only 16 episodes between 1952 and 1957 but somehow he is best remembered as Quelch – it was his most famous role even though he had one of the leading roles in ‘Fiend Without  a Face’ in  1958 and later in the Sixties in ‘The Forsyte Saga’

 

Gerald Campion as Billy Bunter

Billy Bunter played by Gerald Campion – He was actually 29 when he played the part and almost 40 by the time the series ended. He did become type cast and was forever remembered for this role. He did later play Mr Toad but in many ways it was a similar character wnyway

Joy Harrington BBC

 

ABOVE: Producer Joy Harington – This was a name that was on our BBC screens throughout the Fifties and beyond because she produced so many top shows quite often for children but of course watched by everyone.

In those days we had a weekly 6 part serial very often – and I can think of a number she produced – Kidnapped with Patrick Troughton as Alan Brech in 1952 – then again in 1957 with Patrick Troughton playing the same role with a different set of actors. In between came ‘Robin Hood’ again with Patrick Troughton – I remember it and to my mind he did not fit the role well. Maybe that was because we still had Richard Todd in our minds as Robin from the 1952 film – and later came Richard Greene in the ITV series.

A distinguished producer of early children’s television programmes, Joy Harington had started as an actress (her first professional appearance had been in 1933) and had appeared in various repertory companies. In 1938 she travelled to the US and continued touring on stage before going to Hollywood to work at Paramount Studios as a script editor and dialogue director.

During her Hollywood stint she also appeared in 13 films (often uncredited), including the MGM productions of Gaslight (d. George Cukor, 1944) and National Velvet (d. Clarence Brown, 1945). (Some information sources for this period give her name as Joy Harrington.)

Back in London after the war, Harington joined the BBC as a stage manager when the television service re-opened in 1946. She became producer of BBC Children’s Television in 1950 and for the next ten years excelled in productions of children’s classics such as Treasure Island (BBC, 1951), Kidnapped (BBC, 1952; restaged 1956), Jo’s Boys (BBC, 1959) and Heidi (BBC, 1959).

One of her more light-hearted projects during this period was in bringing the Frank Richards stories of Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School (BBC, 1952-61) to television. These prankish schoolboy yarns – a kind of early sitcom for children – were broadcast live and were the first TV episodes to be presented with matinee and evening performances on the same day. Contemporary critics were at first wary of a television translation that was based on 40-year-old stories (Richards had started writing the Bunter stories in 1908) intended for readers in a less sophisticated time. But with the venerable Richards himself providing many of the scripts, the series soon became a confirmed favourite with junior school-aged children.

But perhaps what is considered her most notable work for television was the eight-part Sunday serial Jesus of Nazareth (BBC, 1956) for which she received the 1956 award of the Guild of Television Producers and Directors (now BAFTA), the first to be presented for a children’s serial. A live studio production with exteriors filmed on location in Galilee and Jerusalem, it was a courageous undertaking. At that time, censorship regulations prohibited the portrayal of Christ by an actor in public performances. However, the Central Religious Council approved the project and Tom Fleming was cast as Jesus Christ. The serial was an outstanding success. Harington followed with a similar ten-part series, Paul of Tarsus (BBC, 1960), for which the exteriors were filmed mainly in Crete.

Until her retirement from the BBC in 1970, Harington worked for religious programmes, schools and further education. She returned to acting in the late 1970s and appeared regularly in the Sykes series (BBC, 1960-65; 1971-79) as well as the occasional Are You Being Served? (BBC, 1973-83) episode and in the fourth Quatermass (ITV, 1979) serial.

billy bunter

Billy Bunter Set BBC

This Picture  ABOVE is one showing the BBC Studio for a ‘live’production of Billy Bunter. Just look how tight the whole thing is – to the right we have the boys in their room then behind that could be one of he school corridors – then on to the school room with a view through the window. To the left there looks to be the school garden or outside area even with small trees  and shrubs.  All seems to be done with two cameras.

The ABOVE  photograph was taken in Studio H of the Lime Grove Studios

BIlly Bunter

 

The ABOVE Picture shows a scene which you can see was done at the Studio On the set above towards the left of the picture in the ‘outside’ area.

It shows Headmaster Quelch played by Kynaston Reeves on the floor with Billy Bunter Gerald Campion looking on.

 

Billy Bunter

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Jaws – New Photographs of the Filming

This was a very good film indeed and extremely well made by Steven Spielberg and his crew.

These pictures are from a private collection and have apparently only just come  to light.

 

Jaws

ABOVE: Relaxing on the beach - Steven Spielberg in the deck chair

Jaws 2

ABOVE: Popular tourist destination Martha’s Vineyard was taken over by trucks and huge wooden structures to help pull of the dramatic motion picture

Jaws 3

 

ABOVE: A black-and-white shot shows what Jaws look like in its entirety as the filmmakers film at an  island in Dukes County

Jaws 4

ABOVE:

Oaks Bluffs harbour - fake fins were seen in the water and  kept  on accidentally sinking

Jaws 5

 

Some boat shots  AS ABOVE are from a time when a victim played by Teddy Grossman flips over in his boat and is eaten by the shark

Jaws 6

 ABOVE: Robert Shaw about to come to a really bad end

Jaws 11

Jaws 7

ABOVE – That same scene – a crew member in the shark’s mouth – setting up the scene

Jaws 8

The Above shot seems to show the shark of some kind of wheel and possibly resting between shots. The water doesn’t look that deep here though

Jaws 9

ABOVE – Just checking

Jaws 10

 

 

ABOVE: Director Steven Spielberg, camera operator Michael Chapman and cinematographer Bill Butler on the set of the Universal Pictures production

Jaws 12

A dramatic scene – the final confrontation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia McKenna

 

A film star for many years from way back in the early fifties actually – and here is a rare interview with her. It was actually a longer version than this but I finished it just before she had success with Born Free

 

Virginia McKenna with Lambs

 

 

Here below is an extract from an interview she did some time ago which gives an insight into how she got into and flourished in the acting profession :-

I was born in London in 1931. My father was chief auctioneer at Christies and my mother was a wonderful pianist. She was in cabaret act called ‘That Certain Trio’ and they played the Savoy and other high profile venues.

My parents divorced when I was four. I lived with my father and we moved to Slinfold. I actually wrote to the people who now live in my old home and they asked if I would like to come and visit. I went and had coffee with them, walked around the garden and saw where my bedroom was.

I attended Herons Ghyll School near Horsham until the war started. I was boarding at the school and we were in the shelter every night. My father wanted me to be safe so he asked my mother to take me to South Africa. We sailed over and I lived there for six years.

 

I returned to England and to Herons Ghyll aged 14 and took what was called a Higher Certificate. I was always very interested in writing, reading and literature. I wanted to go to University to read English in order to become a journalist, but I had to earn my money more quickly.

My parents had seen me in school plays and encouraged me to go into acting. I went to an audition at The Old Vic but failed. I was however accepted at the Central School of Speech and Drama, where I satisfied my more academic side by taking a diploma course too.

An agent saw me in one of the school performances and told me he would like to look after me once I left drama school. He found me some work over the school holidays at the Dundee Repertory – a place where many famous actors have started out – Richard Todd springs to mind as one of them – and I absolutely loved it. I felt I was ready to learn out oi the field so I spoke to the Head Mistress and asked if she would allow me to leave a year early. I felt that I was ready. Fortunately, she said ‘yes’.

Today there are so few reps around so people finishing drama school nowadays usually have to start in television, where the technique is completely different from theatre. In theatre, not only do you have to portray your feelings, you have to project them to the front row of the stalls and to the back row of the upper circle. That is a challenge.

Whilst I was at Dundee, playing Estella in Great Expectations, I was watched by Daphne Rye. She was a representative of H.M Tennent, a big London theatre company of the time. They were casting a play called ‘A Penny for a Song’ and thought I would be right for the part of Dorcas. So I left Scotland for the Haymarket Theatre.

I was in some amazing productions with incredible people. H.M Tennent was also putting on A Winter’s Tale with John Gielgud, Dianna Wynyard and Flora Robson, and I went into that and played Perdita. I was very nervous. I remember trembling with fear in the aisles with a young actor, Richard Gale,  who played Florizel. I remember John Gielgud came up to us and said ‘You two, what’s the matter?’ We told him we were worried we would not be good enough and he said ‘Nonsense! It will be perfectly fine.’ He gave us a pat on the shoulder and we wondered if someone had done the same for him once. He was the most lovely man.

My first television show was Shout Aloud Salvation, which was a great success. It was live television in those days, so one shoot would take place in one studio and you would literally have to run along the passageways, throwing on a hat or changing as you went, to make it to another studio for the next scene. You can’t stop. If you made a mistake, you had to cover it up.

The Second Mrs Tanqueray, filmed at the Riverside Studios, was my debut film. I don’t think many people have seen that film, which is probably quite good really!

I married Denholm Elliott, who I met on set of The Cruel Sea in 1953. It was a very short marriage. It was not right for either of us, let’s put it like that.

Virginia McKenna marries Denholm Elliott

A Town Like Alice was shot over three months in 1956, which was quite long in those days. I never went to Malaya or Australia, as it was all filmed at Pinewood. There are shots of us withered women prisoners in the last stages of decline, all traipsing through a swamp. We actually plodded through a pond in Burnham Beeches. It was freezing cold, so they were spraying glycerine on our faces to make it seem swelteringly hot!

A wonderful actress of the time called Marie Löhr was also in the film. Marie had known my father. She gave me a beautiful locket that he had given to her years before, and I still treasure it.

I won the BAFTA for Best British Actress, and my co-star Peter Finch won the Best Actor award. It was a surprise to me, as everything is always a surprise. You do what you do. You are not thinking of prizes. Awards are quite hyped these days, but it was a little more reserved in those days. I can’t remember what I said!

At one point I did a series of cameos, as I wanted so much to work with the person I would be doing the scene with. They included Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper and Donald Sutherland. I was so lucky to have that chance of working in that golden era.

I first met Bill Travers in a play called ‘I Captured the Castle’ by Dodie Smith. I was playing Cassandra, and Bill was given a part and we met. But at that time, in 1953, I was about to marry, Bill was married already, and that was the end of that. We didn’t see each other until a good while later when we met by chance. We were having dinner with different people in the same restaurant and saw each other again. We met up then and never stopped meeting up. We married in 1957.

I was always testing myself. That’s life. You have got to take risks.

The Smallest Show on Earth 1957 4

Sometimes Bill and I were in films together. We made a film together called The Smallest Show on Earth. The cast included Peter Sellers, Leslie Phillips, Margaret Rutherford and Bernard Miles and as it was a comedy we were laughing every five seconds. Leslie and I are the survivors of that film and we are still friends today.

The Smallest Show on Earth 1957

ABOVE – I love this shot and remember it so well. Virginia McKenna gazes at Peter Sellers the projectionis who is totally in love with the films and the magic of the film show. Bill Travers looks on.

I certainly knew someone a few years ago who found that certain something from film shows that Peter Sellers portrayed here.

 

The Smallest Show on Earth 1957 2

 

The Smallest Show on Earth 1957 3

ABOVE – Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers with Margaret Rutherford

We followed that with The Barretts of Wimpole Street with John Gielgud and Jennifer Jones, then Passionate Summer and Two Living, One Dead. We had masses of work. Bill enjoyed a great personal success with a film called Geordie in the mid-1950s that led to a lot of work for him.

After marrying, we had two children quite quickly before a little gap and then two more children. They would travel with us as we filmed all over the world. When we made Born Free in 1964, three of the children came with us. William was five when we left for Kenya, and he has adored the continent ever since.

 

 

 

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Jack Hawkins goes back down ‘Memory Lane’ in 1955

In the summer of 1955, Jack Hawkins took a stroll back down memory lane with interesting results.

 

His first stop was at Trinity County School in Wood Green where he met up again with former Headmaster  Dr. E.E. Jones who remembered him as the boy who put acting before everything else including school.  At the time Dr. Jones thought quite reasonably that his stage training was interfering with Jack’s homework. He was probably right – however  Jack’s Father seemed convinced of his son’s dramatic talents so he encouraged him along the acting path.

At the age of 14, Jack was appearing in Rainbows End at the Holborn Empire in the afternoons and as a page in Sybil Thorndyke’s Saint Joan in the evenings while still at school.

Jack Hawkins 1937

ABOVE – Jack Hawkins as he appeared in the play ‘Autumn’ in 1937

Jack Hawkins 1

 

ABOVE – Down at the Seaside – Bit before ‘The Cruel Sea’ though

Jack Hawkins 3

 

ABOVE – A rehearsal in the Garden – Jack Hawkins was 11 years old then

Jack Hawkins 2

ABOVE – ‘You were quite a trial’ says Headmaster Dr. Jones

 

Jack Hawkins 4

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins still has a problem with Geometry

Jack Hawkins

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins looks back at his ‘record’ along with Dr.  Jones and the current Headmaster

Jack Hawkins 1

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins in ‘Journey’s End’ which ran for 18 months on Broadway

Jack Hawkins 2

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins strolls past St. Michaels In Wood Green, London.

 

Jack Hawkins then later in the day moved on to the Italia Conti school of acting where he visited aspiring young actors.

Jack Hawkins

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins with young stage hopefuls at the Italia Conti School

Jack Hawkins 2

ABOVE -  With younger ones in the drama class  - Italia Conti School

Jack Hawkins 3

ABOVE -  This time he tries and adagio – and finds it ‘very pleasant too’

Jack Hawkins 4

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins talks over old times with Jimmy Eastwood and Editor Eric Warman in No. 1 Dressing Room at the New Theatre, St. Martin’s Lane

Jack Hawkins 5

    ABOVE -  Saying goodbye to Mr. Hunter at the Stage Door – New Theatre St.Martin’s Lane

 

After lunch Jack and his guest drove to Jack’s home in Kensington Gardands and met hid wife – actress Doreen Lawrence and their two small sone Nicholas 6 and Andrew 4

Jack Hawkins

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins with his wife ( actress Doreen Lawrence ) and family at Round Pond in Kensington Gardens

Jack Hawkins 1

ABOVE -  Captain Jackie Broome ( Cruel Sea adviser ) shows how it’s done

 

BELOW – Jack visiting his former flat in Sloane Square

Jack Hawkins 2

ABOVE -  Jack Hawkins revisits his old basement flat in Sloane Square

Jack Hawkins was obviously steeped in acting from a vear early age. He had been married to actress Jessica Tandy. He married Doreen Lawrence in 1947 after they met in India.

 

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Joan Rice and Donald Sinden

These two were around at about the same time.

 

Joan Rice at first looked to be having a much more successful career with ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ which was very popular – and then  ‘His Majesty O’Keefe’ both of which were world targeted films.

This should have been the springboard to a top film career but after this she just seemed to fade away and many of us have speculated endlessly, as to why – with no real conclusion.

Joan Rice and Donald Sinden

 

ABOVE – this picture I reckon was taken in the grounds of Pinewood Studios where there is a small bridge over a lake which has been used many times in films.

On the other hand Donald Sinden looked like another film actor who might just make a fringe career,  but never be leading man material.  In some ways that was true but he did seem to carve out a long run in British Films and later Television

Joan Rice 2

ABOVE – A Day to Remember 1953 –  I notice that Joan Rice is also teamed up with her former ‘Friar Tuck’ the wonderful James Hayter

Joan Rice

 

ABOVE – Another scene from  ‘A Day to Remember’ 1953

These two actors were together in ‘A Day to Remember’ – indeed Joan Rice was top billed in this. Later in 1959 they were on screen together in ‘Operation Bullshine’

They also did public appearances – one of which was when the two of them visited Gainsborough in Lincolnshire.

The Gaumont Cinema in Gainsborough was modernised in early-1954, reopening on 29 March 1954 with Edward G. Robinson in “The Glass Webb” and with film stars Joan Rice and Donald Sinden making personal appearances there

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Walt Disneys Love of Railways – and his vision for the future

 

Walt Disney was always fascinated with future technology and what it would be like and its effect on people all over the world.

By today’s standards, the technology with which Walt Disney made his name looks primitive: thousands of individual hand-drawn frames assembled into a film running at 24 frames per second.  I

n 1937, Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. his first feature-length animation which had been  widely referred to as Disney’s Folly because it seemed too ambitious to work.

They were proved very wrong on this one.

Roy and his brother Roy Disney

 

Walt Disney was also fascinated by trains – this must have come from his upbringing in the mid West of America. He later built a very large and elaborate railway in his garden at his home in the Holmby Hills in Hollywood.

 

Bill McAlpines's Railway

 

Bill McAlpines's Railway 2

 

Bill McAlpines's Railway 3

ABOVE – Bill McAlpine’s Railway with stations at Fawley Hill nr Henley on Thames – Walt Disney would have loved this

 

That just does reminds me of the Railway in  an English garden – at the home of the late Bill McAlpine at Fawley Hill near Henley on Thames – which my wife and I were lucky enough to visit on the occasion of an Open Day a few years ago, Wonderful day. This was on a scale that would be greeted with astonishment had you not seen it – a full size railway along with stations

Aside from pushing the filmmaking technology of his time, Walt Disney was fascinated in what future technology would be like and how it would change the lives of regular people. His most detailed predictions come from a letter he wrote in 1956.

Walt speculated that “the extension of radar and other as-yet untapped sources of cosmic force” would change everything, and in fact that is what has happened with the Internet.

 

We can only imagine how amazed  Walt Disney would be by the power of the smartphones we carry in our pockets, but he certainly realised that there’d be ever-increasing needs for power. 

The world’s first nuclear power plant was opened in the UK in 1956, so it makes sense that Walt would expect it to become a major power source – and it has. Our harnessing of solar power has become a very key area as a source of heating and electricity generation.

Walt Disney

As well as speculating about future tech, Walt was prepared to back this financially. Rather than just a theme park, his original plan for the Floridian Disney World was to create an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

We now know it as Epcot. Epcot was intended to be a living, working city that was a blueprint for how American cities could evolve into cleaner, safer places.

Disneyland

ABOVE - Disneyland

 

 

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