Archive for December, 2013

Hurricane Island 1951

 The recent terrible floods along the North Sea coast on England and inland too, reminds me of this film and I will tell you why.  A man I know in the local pub is originally from a village near  Mablethorpe a seaside town in Lincolnshire, England and he told me the story of going to the local cinema in the town on a night in 1953 to see Hurricane Island with Jon Hall.  Mid way through the performance the film stopped and water began coming into the cinema so they all got out safely. He lived inland and on higher ground so was able to leave the town quite easily, but there was loss of life there that night sadly due to the sea flooding along the whole of that coast and down to Norfolk as well.

 

The film was showing at The Lyric – now no longer a cinema like so many more.  He did tell me that he has never seen the end of that film because  it has not been on television or shown  since.

 

Jon Hall had made a career our of this sort of film

Jon Hall -  athletic leading man who was once crowned “the King of Technicolor” (his queen was Maria Montez), Hall started in films as a bit player billed under his own name. The dark-haired, handsome actor worked his way up to substantial roles in Here’s to Romance, Charlie Chan in Shanghai (both 1935), The Lion Man and The Mysterious Avenger (both 1936), among others, before being cast as Dorothy Lamour’s sarong-clad native lover in John Ford’s The Hurricane (1937), a huge success. See picture below :-

He became a leading man, and freelanced for several studios, appearing in South of Pago Pago, Kit Carson (both 1940), Aloma of the South Seas (1941), and Eagle Squadron (1942), before being paired with exotic Maria Montez in a Technicolor spectacle for Universal, Arabian Nights (1942). Escape-hungry wartime audiences made it a big hit, and Universal kept the Hall-Montez team together in White Savage (1943), Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Cobra Woman, GypsyWildcat (all 1944), and Sudan (1945). When the formula finally petered out, Hall’s star began to wane.

He made several Westerns, among them The Vigilantes Return (1947), Deputy Marshal (1949, costarring then-wife Frances Langford), and When the Redskins Rode (1951), before starring as “Ramar of the Jungle” in a 1952-54 syndicated TV series, some episodes of which were cut together and released as feature films. Overweight and lethargic, he never regained his box-office standing, although he did stay in the movie business by renting out some expensive photographic equipment he’d collected over the years. He also directed one film, The Beachgirls and the Monster (1965, aka Monster from the Surf Hall married actress Raquel Torres in 1959, and shot himself  after spending several months in bed following an operation for bladder cancer.

Jon was an inventor and highly skilled aviator. He held patents on an underwater camera, optivision lenses and the design of the hulls of PT boats for the US Navy.

Jon Hall has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for Motion Pictures at 1724 Vine Street and for television at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard.

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Rob Roy The Highland Rogue

Walt Disney came to England in 1949 and made Treasure Island at Denham Film Studios  followed by The Story of Robin Hood 1952 again at Denham and starring Richard Todd in the title role with Joan Rice. These two were very good films indeed – in fact I would go so far as to say that Robin Hood was a great film - and they were quickly  quickly followed by  The Sword and the Rose  and then Rob Roy The Highland Rogue and these too also starred Richard Todd who made three major films for Disney – all in England  -  I reckon he was in these three films within the space of just under two years.

In fact  Treasure Island (1950) grossed $4 million, returning to the studio a profit of between $2.2 and $2.4 million and The Story of Robin Hood did even better.

However Rob Roy The Highland Rogue missed the mark at the Box Office and didn’t fare anywhere near as well, and in fact probably because of this, Walt Disney took his next Live Action films to Hollywood and did not return to England for a few years.

Here – above –  is an interesting item – a book of the film which would have been sold at the time.

This film was chosen for the Royal Film Premiere of the year in 1953 but it seems that later papers released in 2010 shows that The Queen was not happy with the choice.

Here is an extract from the Daily Mail article of 2010 :-

For nearly 50 years the Queen has graced the red carpet at Royal Film  Performances.

Queen Elizabeth II arriving for a Royal Film Premier of Rob Roy in 1953.

Ghastly ordeal: Queen Elizabeth II arriving for a Royal  Film Premier of Rob Roy in 1953. She was not impressed by the film

But newly discovered documents show that in the early years  of her reign she found the movies so dreadful she complained to then Prime  Minister Sir Winston Churchill during an audience at Buckingham Palace.

She may have once even considered boycotting the event.

The 1954 Royal Performance of the film Beau Brummell – starring Stewart  Granger and Elizabeth Taylor – was a particular cause of displeasure. The Queen  and her officials were also unimpressed by three previous films – Where No  Vultures Fly, Because You’re Mine and Rob Roy The Highland Rogue.

The Queen had told the Prime Minister Winston Churchill,  what a bad  film it was and he, on his own initiative, wanted to see what could be done  about it for the future.’

 

 

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Eleanor Parker dies aged 91

Eleanor Parker, who has died aged 91, was an American screen and stage actress, best-remembered for her role as the Baroness Elsa Schraeder, co-star to Julie Andrews in the Oscar-winning 1965 film, The Sound of Music.

Clad in beaded gowns and ash-blonde wigs (she was naturally brunette), Eleanor Parker cut a mature, icily elegant figure next to Julie Andrews, who was then a newcomer. Charmian Carr, playing the eldest Von Trapp daughter, remembered her as “the bona fide movie star in the cast” .

Above – A Very famous scene from The Sound Of Music 1965

In a statement, Christopher Plummer said: ‘Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known.

‘Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.’

Parker’s death comes at a time when The Sound Of Music is back in the spotlight.

With her rich, husky voice and striking good looks, she had proven herself equally adept in both dramatic and lighter roles.  At the Venice Film Festival in 1950 she had won an international award for Caged, as a first-time offender who is brutally mistreated by the prison matron.

Her performance in Scaramouche (1952), as the strong-willed theatre player Lenore, had showed her at her most alluring and entertaining. Yet, though nominated for an Oscar three times, she never triumphed at the award ceremony. At Warner Brothers, however, her versatility won her great acclaim, and saw her publicised to cinema audiences as “The Woman of a Thousand Faces”.

Eleanor Jean Parker was born on June 26 1922 in Cedarville, Ohio, the youngest of three children. Her father, Lester Parker, was a mathematics teacher . She aspired to be an actress from a young age and eventually she headed in 1940 for the Pasadena Playhouse, where she caught the attention of a Warner Bros talent scout. She was signed on to the company just three days after her nineteenth birthday.

Her career though diod not get off to a flying start.  . Her scenes cut entirely from They Died With Their Boots On (1941) which starred Errol Flynn, and her next films (both 1942) were ignored.

Below:  She seems to be enjoying herself with Errol Flynn.

Gradually she was acquiring the reputation of a serious actress . In 1945,  director Edmund Goulding approached her for the role of Mildred, the conniving Cockney waitress of Somerset Maugham’s novel Of Human Bondage but the film was not a success.

Above – Never Say Goodbye 1946 a romantic comedy film about a divorcing couple and the daughter who works to bring them back together with Errol Flynn.

Her fortunes revived with the wartime comedy The Voice of the Turtle (1947), and by the 1950s her career had hit its first peak. Caged provided her with the kind of complex role that most appealed; at 27, she played a 19 year-old widowed during – and subsequently imprisoned for – an attempted robbery.  The part won her a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards.

In 1951 she left Warner Bros and had her next big commercial success with Scaramouche, a swashbuckling MGM adventure set in 18th-century France which gave Stewart Granger a very good role – and featured – as the climax to the film – one of the best sword fights ever put on screen.. Detective Story (1951) won her another Oscar nomination. Her third and last came three years later, for Interrupted Melody (1955). The film also starred Glenn Ford.  Based on a bestselling biography, the film told the story of the Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence, who overcame poliomyelitis to take audiences by storm. Eleanor’s singing was dubbed by Eileen Farrell, a leading American soprano, who was deeply impressed by the actress’s commitment to the part. “In a lot of old Hollywood movies, the lip-synching was pretty sloppy,” she wrote in her memoirs, Can’t Help Singing. “Eleanor wanted hers to be completely convincing.”

From the early 1960s Eleanor Parker began to appear on television . Her performance in The Eleventh Hour (1963), a medical drama for NBC, received an Emmy nomination. From 1969-70 she was the principal star of Bracken’s World, but walked out after 16 episodes citing a “lack of creative satisfaction”.

She continued in regular big-screen appearances throughout this period, of which her best-known was The Sound of Music – though it was an unflattering role. “I was the so-called ‘heavy’,” she recalled, while emphasising that she was “very proud to have been in the film. If anyone asks me what I’ve done, I look to see how young they are and say: ‘There’s one film you will know…’”

At 42, however, the best of her career was behind her. Her last big-screen appearance, Sunburn, (1979), was a box-office failure. She continued to make infrequent television appearances up until 1991, but otherwise lived quietly in Palm Springs, California.

Eleanor Parker married, in 1943, Lieutenant Fred Losee, a Navy dentist. The marriage was dissolved the following year. She married, secondly, Bert Friedlob, with whom she had three children. Her third marriage, in 1954, was to the American portrait painter Paul Clemens; they divorced in 1965. In 1966 she married Raymond Hirsch, a Chicago theatre executive. He predeceased her in 2001.

Above – She christens The California Zephyr train in 1949

 

So the curtain comes down once more on one of the  Film Stars of the Fifties even though probably her best remembered film was made in 1965.  We have made reference to her before in The Naked Jungle with Charlton Heston – and a cast of millions of ants !!!  Maybe she will not be remembered as one of the screens greatest but she certainly has her place in film history.

I will print again the tribute from Christopher Plummer, which I found wonderful and very touching. He said of Eleanor Parker -

‘Eleanor Parker was and is one of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known.

‘Both as a person and as a beauty. I hardly believe the sad news for I was sure she was enchanted and would live forever.’

 

 

 

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Marty Wilde – Jet Storm 1959

Marty Wilde in the very first year of his incredibly long career – he is still performing today – steps into this film Jet Storm as a young pop star (which he was – a trend in films of the day for example Cliff Richard in Serious Charge and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo not to mention Elvis in Love Me Tender.

A few years earlier we had the very good The High and the Mighty starring John Wayne and Robert Stack among a veritable Whos Who of top sceen actors. That film had a cast together of very well known actors but Jet Storm’s passengers must be considered a B list from the film acting fraternity at least in comparison.

The action of this film takes place on an airliner bound for New York and the passenger list reads like a who’s who of up and coming names – Diane Cilento, Virginia Maskell, Marty Wilde, future TV star Paul Eddington, established stars – Mai Zetterling, Elizabeth Sellers, Megs Jenkins, David Kossoff, Stanley Baker and would you believe -  Dame Sybil Thorndyke.

Richard Attenborough was one of the best young character actors in Britain when he emerged in the 40s. In 1948 he came to notice in 3 outstanding Rank films – “Brighton Rock” (playing a baby faced psychopath), “London Belongs to Me” (a bumbling murderer) and “The Guinea Pig” (a poor school boy who is given a scholarship to an exclusive boy’s school).
Among the passengers are the usual suspects, harassed parents, a jet setting pop star, a TV comedian (Harry Secombe), sensible elderly citizen, people with secrets etc. Among the latter is Ernest Tilley (Richard Attenborough) a rather worried looking man, travelling with his caring wife (Mai Zetterling). He is a man on a mission – he has followed a man on board who he believes is responsible for killing his little girl in a hit and run. He is bitter at the world and has had a vendetta against this man for two years. He has bought on board a device that he intends to use to blow up the plane but his ramblings are heard by two other passengers and they alert the Captain.
Stanley Baker  plays the caring level headed Captain, who tries to talk some common sense into Tilley, but to no avail. As the film progresses the passengers get to hear of it and the passengers seem to split into two groups – the potential have-a-go s and the hystericals. (Hermione Baddeley is great as a hysterical passenger). There is a revolt between these two factions, but the plan goes wrong and the man at the centre of the dispute (the hit and run driver) is sucked out of the plane window – in a scene a few years before the same fate befell Goldfinger.  As a last resort, a little boy is sent down to Tilley, to appeal to his deep down kindness of heart.

Marty Wilde.

Marty Wilde (born Reginald Leonard Smith, 15 April 1939) is an English singer and songwriter. He was among the first generation of British pop stars to emulate American rock and roll, and is the father of pop singers Ricky Wilde, Kim Wilde and Roxanne Wilde.

Marty Wilde was born in Blackheath, London. He was performing under the name Reg Patterson at London’s Condor Club in 1957, when he was spotted by impresario Larry Parnes. Parnes gave his protégées stage names like Billy Fury, Duffy Power and Dickie Pride, hence the change to Wilde. The ‘Marty’ came from the commended 1955 film, Marty.  He was signed to the British recording arm of Philips Records.

 

Between 1958 and 1962 Marty had thirteen consecutive hit records, including Endless Sleep (which reached number 4 in the charts), Donna (3), Teenager In Love (2), Sea of Love (3), the self-penned Bad Boy (7), Rubber Ball (9), Little Girl (16), Jezebel (19) and Tomorrow’s Clown (33) and, after a hugely successful appearance on the BBC’s ’6-5 Special’ – which led to an avalanche of fan mail – Marty secured a residency on the cult ABC TV programme, ‘Oh Boy!’ before hosting the original ‘Boy Meets Girl’ Show.
Marty’s backing group had The Wildcats as his backing group.  In 1962 Marty took to the West End stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre starring to critical acclaim in the musical ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’, before a flirtation with the silver screen, taking lead roles in ‘Jetstorm’, The Hellions’ and ‘What A Crazy World’ (with Joe Brown). Much later, in 1974, Marty was to play the role of David Essex’s manager in ‘Stardust’, the hugely successful follow up to ‘That’ll Be The Day’.
Much later on Marty fomred The Wilde Three – with his wife, Joyce, and the future Moody Blues vocalist, Justin Hayward – and, almost uniquely for UK performers in those days, by further developing his songwriting talents (which had previously borne fruit with the top three single, ‘Bad Boy’). Marty penned hits for Status Quo (Ice In The Sun), Lulu (I’m A Tiger), The Casuals (Jesamine), Peter Shelly (Love Me Love My Dog) and for himself (Abergavenny), whilst No Trams To Lime Street, a breakthrough in TV musical plays, gave him a perfect opportunity to demonstrate his considerable versatility.
However, performing was never far from Marty’s thoughts  in fact he still performs as many shows as possible today.   He has topped the bill on five extensive ‘Solid Gold Rock’n’Roll’ tours and presents his own ‘Born To Rock’n’Roll’ show at theatres across the UK. To celebrate the 50th Year of a unique career, a retrospective CD, ‘Marty Wilde – The Greatest Hits, Born To Rock’n’Roll’, featuring duets with daughters Roxanne and Kim, was released by Universal Music in March 2007.

He moved partly into all-round entertainment, appearing in musicals such as in  the original West End production of Bye Bye Birdie and several films.

He and his wife Joyce have four children, Kim (born 1960), Ricky (born 1961), Roxanne (born 1979) and the youngest, Marty Jr. (born 1983), who was a contestant on The Golf Channel’s The Big Break IV: USA vs. Europe in 2005. Kim, Ricky and Roxanne have worked in the music industry, like their parents.

 

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‘Fast and Furious’ Star killed in Car Crash

Tragic accident: Representatives for actor Paul Walker have confirmed that the star died in a car accident this afternoon
 It has been confirmed that filmactor Paul Walker  has died in a car accident Saturday afternoon

 

Actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in  the Fast & Furious action movies, has died in a car crash after his friend  lost control of a Porsche GT which  smashed into a pole and a tree.

The high-powered super-car burst into flames  after it crashed in Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, at 3:30pm,  yesterday.

Walker, 40, who was in five of the six films  about illegal street racing and heists, had been at an event for his charity  Reach Out Worldwide before deciding to take the car out for a drive with his  friend.

The fundraiser, to benefit victims of Typhoon  Haiyan, was taking place in a race car shop near to the scene of the crash.

Guests rushed to put out the flames with fire  extinguishers but the fireball had already engulfed the car.

The star’s representatives and official  Facebook page confirmed his death.

The LA County Sheriff’s department said two  people died but is yet to release names.

However Ame Van Iden, Walker’s publicist,  said in an email: ‘Sadly, I must confirm that Paul did pass away this afternoon  in a car accident.’

The actor’s official Facebook page was also  updated with the message: ‘It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm  that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a  charity event for his organisation Reach Out Worldwide.

‘He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in  which both lost their lives.

‘We appreciate your patience as we too are  stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news.

‘Thank you for keeping his family and friends  in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you  apprised on where to send condolences.

 

Universal Pictures also issued a statement, saying studio staff were “heartbroken” by Walker’s death.

“Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the Fast & Furious films, and to countless fans.

“We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

Walker played undercover agent Brian O’Conner in the Fast & Furious movies.

The first film of the franchise was released in 2001 and the seventh is in development.

Paul Walker began acting as a young boy when his mother, a model, took him to auditions for commercials.

After drifting away from acting, he got his big break when a casting director remembered him from years before, tracked him down and gave him a role in the TV series Touched by an Angel.

Walker later won a recurring part in the soap The Young and the Restless before moving on to supporting roles in teen films in the late 1990s with Varsity Blues, She’s All That and The Skulls.

After the success of the first Fast & Furious film, Walker became the leading man for the second instalment when Vin Diesel dropped out.

Fast & Furious 6
The sixth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise topped the US box office

Diesel later returned, however, and the six-film franchise has earned an estimated $2.4bn (£1.5bn) at global box offices. The series has not lost its appeal, with the latest instalment, the sixth, the most lucrative so far.

The seventh instalment began filming in September but has not been completed. It had been scheduled for release in July.

Walker has also filmed Hurricane Katrina drama Hours, which is due to be released on 13 December.

Another forthcoming film is Brick Mansions, a remake of the French action film District B13, for film studio Relativity.

Relativity President Tucker Tooley said in a statement: “Paul was an incredibly talented artist, devoted philanthropist and friend.”

Link to the FIFTIES FILMS  – Johnny Dark.

This is a racing car film of  1954 and really does not have much to relate it to the Fast and the Furious films but it is the only one from that era that I can think of.  The film is mainly about car racing with  a youngish Tony Curtis (in the lead as Johnny) and Piper Laurie (as Liz). Both are strong willed so romance isn’t easygoing at the start.

Johnny is the auto engineer who is determined to drive his new model race car to win the 2200-mile race from Canada to Mexico and Liz, when she realizes her love for him, supports him entirely.
Lots of action throughout from players and race cars. The speeding cars keep you on the edge of your seat – great film shots from the air and the road as they blaze along from stop to stop during the race.

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