Archive for September, 2012

Calamity Jane – Doris Day

Who could ever forget Doris Day in this film.  The Film is so exuberant, so joyous and so colourful that it cannot help but cheer you up!
Doris Day plays the role of her career as Calamity Jane  the wildcat tomboy of Deadwood City.   The fun starts when Calamity is sent to Chicago to find a vaudeville beauty who will perform at the local bar.     Instead she ends up with the star’s maid, Katie, who decides try to impersonate the star but with less than good results – although things turn out well in the end.

Together the two find fun, love and along the way some wonderful songs.

Above – Front of House Stills from the film. We used to look at these each time we passed the cinema as a sort of taster of what to excpect

 

My daughters loved this film and even now we watch it on occasions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickock.  I remember Howard Keel came to England to film Floods of Fear in 1958 which was a change from the films we had come to know him for but it was not a box office success although very good in it’s own way.

I hadn’t realised but there was also a low budget film made in 1950 called The Texan meets Calamity Jane.

The Texan Meets Calamity Jane 1950

The Texan meets Calamity Jane 1950 – above

That was the title and it was filmed in TruColor.    In this one the depiction of Calamitiy Jane’s love for the late lamented Hickock and her reluctance to be caught up in a flirtation with lawyer Eliison give the film an air of gravity and romance missing from most B westerns of the era. It starred Evelyn Ankers as Calamity Jane who after this film quit the movies for married life and motherhood  . She was 32- years-old and was married to Richard Denning.    She had the previous year appeared with Lex Barker in Tarzans Magic Fountain which is one of my favourites among the Tarzan movies.

Back to Doris Day – she was one of the most successful films stars of all time really – certainly during the 50s and to a lesser extent the 60s she was around in some great and enjoyable films and was able to play in musicals like this one as well as light comedies with Rock Hudson and even Clark Gable as well as dramatic roles such as The Man Who Knew Too Much AND  a lesser known one called Julie where she was being hunted down by her husband played in sinister form by Louis Jourdan culminating in a tense ending where she has to land an  airliner full of passengers.

The maniacal husband-as-stalker was a new kind of character for films in 1956.
Doris Day plays the role of a terrorized wife trying to escape from the husband who is trying to kill her, and this is such a well-done film that even audiences of today would respond to it.


Doris Day – Julie 1956

The climactic scene in which Doris Day lands the passenger plane with help from the control tower is riveting, because it is supposedly  based on fact.

 

 

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Harry Black and the Tiger 1958

Whenever I read a review of this film it always seems to be a poor one BUT I thought it was a very good adventure film beautifully filmed in India.

Any  exotic locations such as Africa or India proved a great backcloth for any adventure story of this type and particularly for a colour film in Cinemascope. .   Stewart Granger looked the part in this one – very much in the same mould as Allan Quartermain in King Solomons Mines.  His character in the film  Harry Black is far from infallible –  he is a man who survived WWII – albeit with a badly damaged leg – but is still at war with his personal demons as well as a man-eating tiger.  At times in the film there are flashbacks which are integral to the plot, and the on screen chemistry between Harry (Granger) and Christian (Barbara Rush) is palpable.  Anthony Steel plays Christian’s husband – not a very appealing role for him.

The landscape and wildlife photography is terrific and the movie does a fine job of showing the people of India and their culture.

I particularly enjoyed the depiction of the relationship of Harry and his gun-bearer Bapu (I.S. Johar – another role for him was in North West Frontier as the train driver a year later) – which appeared to be built on mutual respect.  All in all this film is definitely a “must see” for fans of classic action/adventure films.

Stewart Granger and Barbara Rush search for the man-eating tiger – above.

Stewart Granger had by this time had the best years of his film career which took him to Hollywood to star in some big budget films.

Harry Black and the Tiger was produced and financed by John Brabourne who was the Son-In-Law of Earl Mountbatten who had an interest in film making and decided on this one. I do remember on a This is Your Life show featuring the life of Lord Brabourne back in October 1990 that Stewart Granger was one of the main guests - and the family seemed to be very good friends with him – and he re-counted experiences on this film. This was obviously well after the film had been made and in fact this was the first film he did produce.

Anthony Steel  was a British actor best known for his appearances in British war films of the 1950s such asThe Wooden Horse 1950. He was described as the perfect Imperial actor, born out of his time, blue-eyed, square-jawed, clean-cut. As another writer put it, “whenever a chunky dependable hero was required to portray grace under pressure in wartime or the concerns of a game warden in a remote corner of the empire, Steel was sure to be called upon – maybe typecast but at the time successful.    This was the case in Where No Vultures Fly and Harry Black – films which were made at each end of the decade.

Think he was in the original ‘Crossroads’ TV series for a while much later in his career. Also he was in a brilliant episode of Tales of the Unexpected in 1980 with John Mills called ‘Galloping Foxley’. I really liked that one.

Barbara Rush

She played the female lead in this film after her film career got off to a good start in 1951 when she appeared in When Worlds Collide and Black Shield of Falworth and Taza Son of Cochise among many others.

                               Above – When Worlds Collide – Barbara Rush. 

Barbara Rush married actor Jeffrey Hunter in 1950 and had a son, Christopher but they divorced in 1955.

She then married publicist  Warren Cowan in 1959 and their  daughter Claudia  is a journalist with Fox News TV.

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Esther Williams – Dangerous When Wet 1953

My daughter Joanna loved this film when it was shown on British TV in the 80s and we have kept a video copy of it to this day – in fact only this very day did Joanna ask me for a DVD copy  to share with her little girls – I am sure they will love it too.

In a dream sequence Esther Willams as  Katie does an underwater ballet with cartoon characters Tom and Jerry. Must admit I couldn’t see why this sequence was in the film but it was great fun anyway !!!

Dangerous When Wet 1953

Katie Higgins played by Esther Williams  is the  daughter of a dairy farmer. The entire family (Pa, Ma, Suzie, Katie, and Junior) start the day with a brisk song titled ‘I got out of bed on the right side’ and then in for a morning swim. One day, Katie meets traveling salesman Windy Weebe  who is instantly smitten. Weebe sells an elixir that purports to turn the user into a  fit-as-a-fiddle specimen, and upon noticing the entire family’s strength in the water, suggests that they all attempt to swim the English Channel. The family and Weebe head off to England whereupon they learn that the distance to be conquered is 20 miles “as the seagull flies” but with the currents, can be up to 42 miles. Katie is the only one in the family strong enough to attempt this so she begins training with Weebe as her coach.

On a foggy day, Katie, in the water, is separated from Weebe, in a rowboat, and is rescued by a handsome Frenchman,  Andre Lanet played by Fernando Lamas who falls for the Katie (Esther)  and begins trying to woo her. Katie tries to stay focused on her swim but is being pulled in different directions by the two men.

The film ends happily.

Esther Williams.

Williams has been married four times. She met her first husband Leonard Kovner while she was at college but she admitted that after a time she found him very dull and she didn’t need him. They dicorced in 1944

She then married singer/actor  Ben Gage in Nov 1945 and had three children to him. They separated  in 1952 and she said that he was an alcoholic who squandered 10 million dollars of her earnings. Seems a heck of a lot of money for the films she had made up to that time. They eventually divorced in 1959.

Victor and Esther – Million Dollar Mermaid – above.

She  disclosed  in her autobiography  that she had  an affair  with  actor Victor Mature while they were working on Million Dollar Mermaid because she said  that at the time her marriage was in trouble and, feeling unwanted she turned to Mature for love and affection, and he gave her all she wanted.

Earlier than this she had said that Johnny Weissmuller had been fondling round her in some kind of water show they did together – this is all in her autobiography which I have to say stretches the bounds of believability. In his book Tarzan, My Father Johnny’s son is critical of Esther William’s account of this and many of other of her claims.

The most outrageous allegation concerned her liaison with actor Jeff Chandler who she says was a cross dresser something that his friends totally refute.   Jane Russell described this as absolute rubbish.

Above – Jeff Chandler in one of his famous western films

She then married actor Fernando Lamas and they lived together until he died.         She now lives in Beverley Hills with her fourth  husband Edward Bell, whom she married on October 24, 1994.

Her autobigraphy gained much interest mainly because of the bizarre claims she made – as featured above - and it must be regarded more as piece of fiction and outrageous fiction at that – always against stars who were already dead and had no means of denying such preposterous allegations.

To be fair to Esther Williams though she was a very popular film star of the late forties and fifties and her films did well and cinemagoers of the time seemed to love them.     Someone once – I can’t remember – who is quoted as saying  that when she was wet she was a star but dry she wasn’t   - maybe that just goes to show that the studios were able to find enough material to make sure she was always wet  – because she had a very successful  film career.

In all  Esther Williams appeared in more than 25 films.

I have to say also, that  from a personal point of view,    I rather liked Esther Williams.

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Herbert Lom dies aged 95

Herbert Lom – who I have mentioned before in a film featured here earlier ‘Third Man On The Mountain’    has died at the age of 95

 The headlines show him as one of the stars of The Pink Panther but I will recall him for all those roles throughout the fifties like in North West Frontier from 1959 which conicidentally I have just been preparing for a post very shortly.  There were  others –  The Ladykillers ,  Fire Down Below and War and Peace among many.  He was a prolific film actor of the time and a very good one at that.

But my main memory will be of him as Dr. Roger Corder in one of my favourite TV series of all time The Human Jungle from the sixties

Above – Herbert Lom in North West Frontier 1959

The above still from North West Frontier I feel really captures the style of Herbert Lom in this role as Van Liden in a thrilling railway escape through India.

His son Alec  said: “Like many actors, he never wanted to be pigeon-holed in a particular role and, after having played the role of East European gangster in many films, it was a delight to him later in his career to be cast by Pink Panther producer and director Blake Edwards in a comedy role opposite Peter Sellers, and he hugely enjoyed that move.

“He had many funny stories about the antics that he and Peter Sellers got up to on the set. It was a nightmare working with Peter because he was a terrible giggler and, between my father and Peter’s laughter, they ruined dozens and dozens of takes.” 

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Something I didn’t know was that in the early 1950s, Herbert Lom had a huge stage success as the King of Siam in the original London production of musical hit The King And I at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane opposite Valerie Hobson. It was the part that had been made famous by Yul Brynner on Broadway who also starred in the film version.

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Bomba and the Hidden City – Johnny Sheffield

This is a real B movie. I saw it many years ago at the local Jubilee Cinema in the town – now no longer there – as a very young boy and seem to think there was a Bowery Boys film on with it.

Johnny Sheffield had been cast as Boy in the Tarzan series with Johnny Weismuller but by the late 40s both were getting too old for their parts. Johnny Sheffield then accepted the part of Bomba The Jungle Boy in a series of 12 films- all made very much on the cheap by Monogram. They were mainly filmed on indoor studio sound stages and in and around  the eucalyptus trees of the Santa Anita Botanic Gardens in Los Angeles and possibly the director’s back garden !

                                      Bomba and The Hidden City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However  they appeared to be good fun and juvenile audiences liked them – that’s probably why so many were made.

After the Bomba series ended he tried to get a TV show called Bantu the Zebra Boy going – indeed a pilot episode was made but it failed to catch the TV people’s interest so he left acting and set up in property and apparently did quite well to such an extent that for some time he lived in Pacific Palisades but died in Chula Vista Southern California.

 

The film is African Treasure 1952

Lauretta Luez and Johnny Sheffield

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Sheffield’s death in October 2010 at the age of 79 came after he had fallen out of a tree he was trimming which resulted in him having  a fatal heart attack about four hours later  - ironic really for a man who had made a long career swinging through the treetops.

B Movies were an essential part of cinema life through the forties before fading out in the mid fifties. They were usually made for between 70 and 80,000 dollars and the aim was to bring in a profit of say 10,000 dollars. Sometimes they did hit the jackpot though.

 

They relied on studio bound sets and stock footage from newsreel and older films.

Lord of the Jungle from 1955 was in fact the very last of the 12 films in the Bomba series – after this one Johnny Sheffield never made another film.

Johnny Weissmuller

Needs no introduction at all to film fans of all ages and Johnny Sheffield played alongside him in many of the great Tarzan films of the forties – partcularly the MGM ones. When Weissmuller died Johnny Sheffield said of him:

 “I can only say that working with Big John was one of the highlights of my life. He was a Star (with a capital “S”) and he gave off a special light and some of that light got into me. Knowing and being with Johnny Weissmuller during my formative years had a lasting influence on my life.”

For his contribution to the motion picture industry,  Johnny Weissmuller has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame  at 6541 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood – and so he should have !

Lord of the Jungle from 1955 with Wayne Morris.

Wayne Morris played the villain in this although apparently he does not appear that much in it.   He does however share star billing with Johnny Sheffield which was understandable because he was a well know movie actor.

Wayne Morris had developed quite a good movie career before the war.

However he had become interested in flying in 1940 and became a pilot. He joined the Naval Reserve and became a Navy flier in 1942  leaving his film career behind for the duration of the war.      Morris shot down seven Japanese planes and contributed to the sinking of five ships. He was awarded four DFCs  and two Air Medals

Following the war, Morris returned to films, but his nearly four-year absence had cost him his career.  He continued to act in movies, but the pictures generally were not of the best quality and in the early fifties he was playing in mediocre westerns.

He did come over to England in 1955 to make Cross Channel and The Gelignite Gang – which gets a very good review.

He had become overweight and was a heavy smoker

He had started a TV career in Westerns but this was was cut short when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 45 on September 14, 1959.     Morris had been a guest of his World War II commander and was watching aerial maneuvers on an aircraft carrier when he died.

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The War of the Worlds 1953 – Gene Barry

I hadn’t realised until quite recently that George Pal originally wanted the last third of the film in 3D but this was abandoned probably due to cost.   It would have been great in 3D though and of course it’s release coincided with a great many 3D films being around.   Directing the film was Byron Haskin – great film director !!

Gene Barry was really good in the leading role here – many of us will remember him from the later TV series we had from the USA ‘Burkes Law’ which was very popular here in the UK - in fact apart from Burkes Law and The War of the Worlds I can’t think of any other picture he was in off the top of my head.

 A lobby card showing the final minutes of the film where sheltered in a church they prepare for the end – not knowing that the smallest living beings on this earth would save them and the world.

Even by todays standards  this is classic,  and an almost perfect  masterpiece.    Brilliant design work on the alien ships, incredible sound effects, and sharp, vivid colours are in evidence here.    Director Byron Haskin’s pacing of the  film is tight and he draws out a masterful performance from Gene Barry as a scientist in  awe of the alien’s capabilities.     The realism of the story telling is unrivalled in most modern science fiction films.

Maybe it’s not true to H.G.Wells’ original story but so what – this is a great film..

GENE BARRY

Gene Barry was born Eugene Klass on June 14 1919 in New York City.

A radio contract led to a prewar stint as a vocalist with Teddy Powell’s band during which he was spotted by the producer Max Reinhardt, who cast him as The Bat in the Broadway show Rosalinda. Two years later he went into The Merry Widow.

In 1944 Barry found himself unemployed but in 1951 his luck changed when  Paramount offered him a film contract.

They put him first in  The Atomic City and  then came this one War Of The Worlds  BELOW

This was followed by  Soldier of Fortune (1955), with Clark Gable, and in 1957 he was twice used by Samuel Fuller, in China Gate and Forty Guns.

Gene Barry made TWO films  in the 1960s – Maroc 7 in 1967 and Subterfuge with Joan Collins two years later – but they were judged to be dire.

He was however  nominated for a Tony award for his portrayal of Georges in the 1983 Broadway production of La Cage aux Folles, the magnificent farce about a homosexual couple in St Tropez.

When not acting, Barry performed a cabaret turn in which he sang, danced and told jokes. He was frequently seen on British television in ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium and starred at The Talk of the Town in the 1960s and 1970s.

Gene Barry travelled everywhere in a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and dressed to suit this image.  His home was a colonial-style Hollywood mansion complete with enormous swimming pool.

Gene Barry died  on December 9th 2009 at the age of 90 of congestive heart failure at Sunrise Assisted Living in Woodland Hills, California but had lived at his home  in Beverly Hills until about a year before.

BYRON HASKIN – Director.Oregon.

We have featured Byron Haskin as a film director before on this Blog – and I make no aplogies for that !   - On Treasure Island and His Majesty O’Keefe

He is remembered today for directing 1953′s  The War of the Worlds one of many films where he teamed with producer George Pal.    In his early career he was a special effects artist for which he earned Three Oscar nominations but later in the1940s he turned to directing and came to England to make  Treasure Island for Walt Disney at Denham Film Studios – He did a superb job on it too.   Another he directed was The Naked Jungle with Charlton Heston and with him at the climax of the film were  millions of ants.

ANN ROBINSON.

She played the female lead in this film BUT I have to say that I don’t know anything much about her. However here are some snippets I have discovered.

Ann Robinson grew up close to the Hollywood film studios,  acted in a few  school plays and then later fibbed her way into the movie business as a stunt woman.   She became part of Paramount’s golden circle of new stars in the early 1950s  but War of the Worlds was her only starring role up to that time.   In 1957, she ran off to Mexico to marry a famous matador Jaime Bravo  (“and blew my career right out of the water”).  They had two sons.

Since 1987 Ann Robinson has been married to real estate broker Joseph Valdez.

She is a fixture at sci-fi conventions and autograph shows mainly on the back of this film.

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I just wonder what H.G. Wells would have made of this film – I rather think and hope – that he would have liked it

 

 

 

 

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The Browning Version 1951 – Michael Redgrave

 This is one of my all time favourite films with Michael Redgrave giving a wonderfully moving  performance as schoolmaster Andrew Crocker-Harris – from the Terence Rattigan play.

It is a touching story of how the confidence of an elderly and unsuccessful schoolmaster  Andrew Crocker-Harris is restored through affection of one of his pupils and the friendly advice of other teachers.  This is regarded with some justification as Terence Rattigan’s best serious achievement in the theatre, and this film adaptation manages the transition to the screen very well.

The Film is, quite rightly, dominated by Redgrave’s brilliant performance as the prim, ailing, seemingly unlikeable schoolmaster, a beautifully written part,   played with technical mastery and finely controlled feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Redgrave is completely and touchingly convincing as the pathetically unsuccessful and cruelly treated schoolmaster – a memorable figure and a memorable piece of acting.      Jean Kent is alarmingly credible also as his wife, selfish, snobbish and repulsively possessive – this is not giving her any redeeming features at all – however in the dialogue Crocker Harris justifies his wife’s behaviour and says that when they married they had both required a different form of love from each other and as the years went by he had hoped that they would  grow closer but in fact those differences had become magnified and had torn them apart.   

 Jean Kent didn’t get many parts in her career as good as this one.        Nigel Patrick is the wife’s repentant lover and Wilfrid Hyde White plays the unctuously amiable Headmaster.         Brian Smith plays Taplow the schoolboy whose gift of the Browning Version of the Agamemnon deeply touches Crocker-Harris.

Above:   Taplow gives a copy of the Browning Version of the  Agamemnon  to  Crocker-Harris.

Interesting to see that Terence Rattigan actually wrote the screenplay for the film adapting it from the stage version.

It was made in 1951 and Directed by Anthony Asquith.   I do remember Robert Morley saying that Asquith was always referred to as  ‘Puffin’ – he didn’t know why though BUT he did say that he always directed his films dressed in a Boiler Suit.       His greatest films were  Pygmalion, The Way to the Stars, The Winslow Boy, The Browning Version, and The Importance of Being Earnest -  although there were many more.      The Winslow Boy made in 1948 was, of course, from another Terence Rattigan play.

The Browning Version was shot at Pinewood Film Studios and the school exteriors were filmed on location at Sherborne School  in Dorset.

Dead of Night – couldnt resist putting this film still in – this shows Michael Redgrave in a segment of the film Dead of Night – and I have to say that this story about the ventriloquist is probably the most frightening I have ever seen.

 

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The Man Who Watched Trains Go By – who remembers this one ?

I don’t know why but I quite often think of this film title – particularly when crossing a rail line or even on a train journey.   Funny because I have never seen the film – and it is NOT widely known these days.

Maybe it is just the that title intrigues me. Who knows.

This is a rarity, an obscure colour film starring Claude Rains late in his career – he was 63 when it was made.           He plays a quiet and respectable Chief Clerk of a Dutch manufacturing firm which is owned by Herbert Lom and his aged father.     Unknown to everyone, Lom has been obsessed for some time by a scheming and criminal Parisian prostitute  played  by Marta Toren.     He has looted the company of all of its cash and left it a bankrupt shell  prior to running off to Paris to a new life with his beloved.

This is discovered at the last minute by Rains, who has sunk his entire family’s savings in the company, and hence lost everything.   Rains snaps and turns on Lom, pushing him into a canal in a rage, where Lom drowns. Rains takes Lom’s suitcase containing all the company’s remaining cash and runs off to Paris, which he has always wanted to visit. He has been a train-spotter all his life, and for years has been noting the passage of the Paris Express.    Now at last he is on it.

Marius Goring is a Dutch policeman who suspects Lom, and now trails Rains. When he arrives in Paris,   Rains wants to find Marta Toren and he asks directions of a young prostitute in the street  played by the 20 year-old Anouk Aimée.      Eventually, Rains meets up with Toren, who at first laughs at him as a ridiculous old man and throws him out. Her attitude towards him changes however when she realizes he has Lom’s money.   Things go from bad to worse  as Rains sinks deeper and deeper into delusion and intrigue. 

The film is only mildly interesting, but the performance of Claude Rains is masterful, and truly makes something out of nothing.

Admirers of Claude Rains will like watching this.

Rains served in World War One  in the London Scottish Regiment with  fellow actors Basil Rathbone, Ronald Colman  and Herbert Marshall.   He was involved in a gas attack that left him nearly blind in one eye for the rest of his life. However, the war did aid his social advancement and, by its end, he had risen to the rank of Captain.

 

From his glitteringly successful film career I can think back to a colour version of The Pahntom of The Opera 1943 – before I could remember BUT sometimes seen on TV.

Very Good Version too.

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Alan Ladd – Botany Bay

When it comes to Film Stars then there aren’t many who could rival this man who  fits the title Movie Star  perfectly.     Alan Ladd was a major film star throughout the forties and the fifties – indeed it is early in the 50s that he had , maybe, his greatest role in the Western ‘Shane’ – one that will certainly be featured on this Blog in the future.

This film Botany Bay was made some time after  Shane but was released around the same time but it  did not have the budget it deserved possibly because Alan Ladd’s contract at Paramount was coming to an end – something that quite honestly amazes me because Shane had been such a massive Box Office hit grossing some $20 million dollars.   Normally Hollywood would hold on to a star of such financial clout. That does baffle me as I say –  but it does seem that Alan and his agent wife Sue Carol made a decision to move to Warner Brothers – and I think that was the real point here.

 

Having said that Botany Bay is not a bad film and it certainly did give American audiences some idea about the founding of Australia as a haven for convict prisoners.

Alan Ladd is Keel-Hauled AND Flogged by sadistic captain James Mason – See Below.

Among the prisoners of a convict ship heading for Botany Bay in 1787  is Hugh Tallant (Alan Ladd) an American Medical Student wrongly convicted of being a highwayman.His repeated efforts to escape arouse the hosility of Captain Gilbert (James Mason).  On the long voyage brutal treatment is meted out to many of the prisoners and Alan Ladd is lashed and keel-hauled but survives.     An attractive girl on board Sally Monroe (Patricia Medina) takes the eye of the captain and also Tallant.

On their arrival in Australia the Governor Cedric Hardwicke sympathises with Hugh Tallant.     Captain Gilbert tries to trick and frame him though but an attack by aborigines sees the violent end of the Captain.  There then follows an outbreak of the plague which Tallant copes well with earning a pardon and leaving him free to live happily ever after with Patricia Medina.

Patricia Medina is the  lovely girl that Alan  Ladd wins in the end.

There were some brilliant studio sets including this one  above - the very last shot of the film (showing a Happy Ending )

James Mason talked about the film much later in 1974 and said of Alan Ladd:

‘Having been fascinated by the Alan Ladd phenomenon, I had now the opportunity to study it at close quarters. It turned out that he had the exquisite coordination and rythm of an athlete and it was interesting to watch him play out his scenes’

Not a bad film  but not the greatest of send offs for one of Paramount’s biggest stars.

 

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Hammer Film Releases 1957

From To-Days Cinema Magazine of 8th August 1957 – this advertisement for the Film Distributors shows what would be coming up in the near future.

The Curse of Frankenstein was a big one for Hammer and went incredibly well here and in the USA which was a market that needed cracked by the British Film Companies if they could.

Hammer Films was really a very good studio - not just for horror movies but also for war ones. Remember Val Guest’s films such as CAMP ON BLOOD ISLAND and YESTERDAY’S ENEMY. These films were very tense, well paced, sharply shot, with very deep characters. 

I don’t know much about The Steel Bayonet but have found out that it is the story of a group of British soldiers, during WW2, in Tunisia, who get orders to hold a position, in the middle of the desert, in order to prevent Afrika Korps advancing.

The Abominable Snowman was also a good one but I think in Black and White and I reckon Forrest Tucker was in that with Peter Cushing.

The Snorkel Poster

The Snorkel is directed by Guy Green who had early in the fifties been the colour camera expert on The Story of Robin Hood for Disney. The film stars Peter van Eyck, Betta St. John, Mandy Miller, Gregoire Aslan & William Franklyn.

 The story has us witness the perfect murder of a wife and mother, and we know who perpetrated it as well, it’s the husband! There’s a gimmick, the snorkel of the title, and film’s success mostly hinges on a devilish twist for the finale. In between the plot revolves around the daughter of the deceased, Candy – Mandy Miller, trying to prove her stepfather has killed her mother even though it appears near impossible for him to have done it. Stepfather has plans for Candy as well.

You will remember Many Miller for films BUT I featured her earlier in Adventures in the Hopfields – which is good.  I don’t remember this film at all – BUT it does sound good.

The Camp on Blood Island I well remember and when I see the picture above it  shows just how horrifying an ordeal it must have been  for those servicemen who were taken prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War. It stars one of my favourite actors Andre Morell.   Also cast is Edward Underdown – who much later was in Dads Army very odd times – and also Hammer stalwart Barbara Shelley. I will return to this film in a ater post I am sure !

 

 

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